The Holy Britannian Empire (also known as the Britannian Empire or just Britannia) is a superpower in theonering3434's Code Geass/Game of Thrones crossover fan-fiction Game of Geass. It is one of the 7 Great Nations that largely influence Earth in the early 21st century, the others being the United States of America, the European Ultra-Union (EUU), the Chinese Federation, the Russian Federation, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and the State of Japan.
Britannia Gratam Edit
The story of Britannia begins in the distant past, in a group of islands off the north-western coast of Europe. Some time between the 7th and the 1st century BC those islands came to be inhabited by a subgroup of a people whom history would call the Celts. Divided into various tribal groups, the Celts of ancient Britain possessed a civilization remarkably advanced for its time, with sophisticated agriculture, a system of wooden roads, and even metal coinage. This island world would see a period of dramatic change, beginning in 55 BC with the arrival of Julius Caesar. Britain had been known in the classical world for centuries as a source of Tin, and was reputed to be a wealthy land; perhaps wealthy enough to be worth conquering. Caesar's first landing was more of a reconnaissance than an invasion, seeking to ascertain whether or not the Britons had been helping their Gallic cousins against him. He established a firm foothold, only to be forced to withdraw when bad weather in the English Channel threatened his supply lines. When he returned the next year with a larger force, it was ostensibly in support of Mandubracius, heir to the murdered King of the Trinovante tribe. Caesar defeated the warlord responsible, Cassivellaunus, and established Mandubracius as King of the Trinovantes; henceforth a loyal ally of Rome.
It is at that point that the man known as Eowyn enters the pages of history. Even to this day, scholars still debate on whether or not he even existed. Many of the facts around Eowyn came at the behest of Emperor Aegon val Britannia I of the Holy Britannian Empire during the early 19th Century. According to such facts, a great leader arose among the Britons; a man named Eowyn, who defeated Caesar and drove the Romans from Britain once and for all. This account, though colorful, has no more inherent truth to it than the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth or Chretien du Troyes. Much like King Arthur, the 'Eowyn' of Britannian tradition may have been a single person, the combined exploits of multiple persons, or merely a legend. He is nevertheless regarded as the first of a line of Romano-British Kings and Queens (and later Emperors and Empresses), thusly dubbed the Eowynids.
The nearest equivalent to the mythic Eowyn was a man called Eudeyrn, who emerged as King of the Trinovantes around ten years after Mandubracius' return. Eudeyrn was an ally and client of the Romans, a relationship he used to maximum effect as he expanded his power across southern Britannia. What made Eudeyrn stand out was his personal army of armored swordsmen, known as the 'Chosen Swordsmen' or simply 'The Chosen.' Organized and trained in imitation of the Roman legions, these troops gave Eudeyrn a tremendous advantage. Precisely how Eudeyrn managed to create such an army, in the face of considerable cultural differences, remains unclear. Indeed, the Roman historian Tacitus describes him buying young slaves as recruits after his people reacted badly to Roman training methods and discipline. Estimates of their numbers have also varied wildly, from a personal retinue of a few hundred to as many as ten thousand. Regardless of the practicalities, Eudeyrn was able to conquer his way across southern Britain; co-opting the willing and crushing the stubborn.
Sternit ad Imperium Edit
The Romans would not return to Britain for almost a hundred years. Eudeyrn's domain appears to have survived in some shape or form, ruled over by King Addedomarus and later by his son Dubnovellaunus, whose existence has been confirmed by studies of contemporary coinage. Both are listed as descendants of Eowyn in the Britannian legend. The kingdom's capital was at Camulodunum, modern Colchester.
But return the Romans did, and in 43 AD, Emperor Claudius dispatched a force of four legions under the command of Aulus Plautius to bring the Britons to heel. By this time the Eowynid Kingdom was under the leadership of Caratacus, son of the successful conqueror Cunobelinus, and another descendant of Eowyn according to the Britannian Legend. He failed to prevent Plautius landing his troops in Kent, a happenstance the legend blames on an argument with his brother Togodumnus. He nevertheless reacted quickly, marching his troops to face the Romans somewhere along the river Medway. The battle ended in a Roman victory, and when Claudius himself arrived shortly afterward Togodumnus swore allegiance to Rome as King of the Britons. Caratacus continued his resistance for a time but disappears from the historical record at around 51 AD. Rome's decision to retain the Eowynid Kingdom, as opposed to splitting it into smaller entities, was a turning point in British history.
Though legions were stationed in Britannia to keep them honest, Togodumnus and his descendants had a free hand to expand their territory into the 'barbarian' lands to the north and west. This they did with a policy not unlike that of their Roman overlords, combining outright conquest with clientage. High-status Britannians increasingly adopted Roman lifestyles and sent their sons to Rome to be educated. The administration was expanded and improved along Roman lines, and the settling of Roman colonia on Britannian soil helped to spread Roman culture and values.
This did not go without resistance. Of all the complications encountered by the Eowynid/Alwynid Kings of Britannia, the most recalcitrant was by far the druids. Described by the Romans as priests and judges both, little else is known about them with any certainty. Both Roman and Britannian accounts nevertheless put them at the center of resistance to Eowynid/Alwynid rule, encouraging and helping to organize disobedience and even outright revolt. It is worth noting that the force sent to crush the druids in their stronghold at Ynys Mon (later Anglesey) was made up entirely of Romans, under the command of Suetonius Paulinus. Togodumnus's own soldiers may have been unwilling to carry out the task themselves. The destruction of Ynys Mon marked the effective destruction of druidic culture and the end of their role in resisting Roman and Eowynid/Alwynid rule.
But it was the revolt of the Iceni tribe, located in what is now Norfolk, that would truly go down in history. It began with the death of Prasutagus, King of the Iceni and client of Cogidumnus. In the hope of preserving his kingdom, Prasutagus had willed it jointly to Emperor Nero, Cogidumnus, and his own two daughters. The Iceni territories were promptly overrun and incorporated into the Britannian kingdom, with Tacitus adding that Prasutagus' wife Boudicca was flogged and their daughters raped. The histories disagree over who precisely was responsible, but the affair seems to have been a joint effort by Romans and Britannians alike.
The result was a full-scale revolt, first by the Iceni, then spreading across Britannia. Boudicca's followers ambushed and destroyed a Britannian army, and then a Roman legion sent to reinforce it, before proceeding to burn Camulodunum to the ground. Suetonius hurried back with his legions but was unable to prevent the destruction of Londinium and Verulamium. Suetonius Paulinus returned with his legions and defeated Boudicca at the Battle of Watling Street. Boudicca is thought to have died either during or shortly after the battle.
Supported by Rome, Britannian kings extended their rule to the north and east, even into the lands later known as Scotland. The Britannian legend claims that they came to rule the whole of the British Isles, including Ireland, but there is nothing to substantiate this. At the turning of the 4th and 5th centuries, these glory days came to an end. Weakened by civil wars, invasion, and economic and social strife, the Western Roman Empire had long been in decline. The legions were finally withdrawn sometime in the first decade of the 5th century, leaving the Britannians to fend for themselves in an increasingly hostile world. Attacked by Picts from the north, 'Scoti' from Ireland, and Germanic and Scandinavian raiders from across the sea, Britannia entered its own long decline. The economy deteriorated as Imperial trade networks collapsed, and whole cities were abandoned as urban life ceased to be viable.
The historian St Gildas, writing in the 6th century, gives the name of Britannia's ruler as Vortigern. Curiously Gildas does not name him as King, but rather as tyrannus superbus, implying him to be a usurper or warlord of some kind. The Britannian legend portrays him as a cruel and ineffectual tyrant and mirrors Gildas by having him invite Saxon mercenaries to shore up his rule. Taking land in payment for their services, the Saxons established themselves in Britannia, along with others such as the Angles and Jutes. For whatever reason, they turned on the Britannians and carved out kingdoms of their own.
The two centuries that follow are shrouded in mystery, concealed from human knowledge by a lack of written records. The Britannian legend fills the gap in its own special way, with the exploits of the Pendragon dynasty; otherwise known as the Artorian dynasty, so-named for its most famous member. Placing the Arthur of song and story in real history is at best fraught with difficulty, at worst nigh-impossible. What is known is that the Britannians enjoyed a brief period of stability, despite Germanic invaders having overrun much of the country. This stability and success went so far as to allow the establishment of colonies in France and Spain. The legacy of the former, Armorica, lives on as modern Brittany.
Britannian legend lays this golden age at the feet of Uther Pendragon, and his better-remembered son Arthur. Indeed, this period (or the stories told of it) can be said to form the basis of modern Britannian culture. The legend places Uther as the descendant of Caratacus, the deposed King of ancient Britannia. The tyrant Vortigern somehow became aware of Uther's heritage and sought to imprison him, but did not destroy him for fear of a curse from the wizard Merlin. Vortigern's death at the hands of the Saxons allowed Uther to escape into the wilderness, where over time he rose to become a leader of warriors. During his career, he acquired the name Pendragon, a name which has itself attracted its fair share of storytelling. Some tales ascribed it to him owning a pet dragon or being a tamer of dragons. One theory even claimed he had acquired the secret of Greek Fire from the distant Eastern Roman Empire. A simpler, but more likely theory ascribed it to his use of a dragon as his symbol.
The origins of Uther's son Arthur are even less clear than his own. The Britannian legend puts him simply as the son of Uther by his wife Igraine, the 19th-century version dismissing the more fanciful accounts as slander. Similarly, much of the mythological content of his life, such as drawing Excalibur from the stone, was removed in the 'official' version. Nevertheless treated as fact is his marriage to Guinevere, his assembling of the Knights of the Round Table, his victory at Mount Badon (around 500 AD according to Gildas) and his death at the hands of Mordred at the Battle of Camlann. His death brought about the chaos and civil war described by Gildas, and the resultant collapse of what remained of Britannia.
The Anglo-Saxons came to dominate the southern and eastern portion of Britannia, while the Britannians themselves lingered on to the north and west. These holdouts included Dumnonia in the south, the 'Welsh' kingdoms of Dyfed, Gwynedd, and Powys in the west, and Elmet, Rheged, Gododdin, and Strathclyde further north. Some of these retained their independence from Saxon rule for many decades, but they were only ever a shadow of the Britannia that had once been. The Saxons enjoyed nearly three centuries of dominance, absorbing several of the Britannian successor kingdoms. These glory days came to an end as the ninth century began, as Scandinavian warriors launched plundering raids against the Saxon kingdoms.
History would dub these marauders 'Vikings', for the Norse term meaning raiders. Between their legendary seamanship and their excellent ships, they could strike and retreat as they pleased, even sailing up rivers to attack villages and towns that thought themselves safe. Neither the divided Saxons nor the weakened Britannians could stop them, and by 867 they had overrun the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria and would go on to conquer much of the country for themselves. Only in the reign of Alfred the Great of Wessex, from 871 to 899, did the Saxons finally turn the tide. For all his victories, Alfred's true legacy was something far greater. It was a country called England.
As the fortunes of the Saxons waxed and waned, the last Britannians clung on in distant places. Of these holdouts, the largest was a kingdom known to history as Alt Clut, but whose rulers called it Britannia. Located in Strathclyde, this last remnant was well-placed to avoid the worst attentions of the Saxons. Doubtless many of the Britannian refugees who ended up there hoped that it might prove the launchpad for an eventual reclamation of the entire country. But with the Saxons to the south, the Picts to the north-east, the Gaels of Dal Riata to the west, the rival Britannian holdout of Gododdin to the east, Alt-Clut had more immediate problems.
The Britannians had to wait for their time to come, but come it did. As Viking power waned, the rulers of Strathclyde saw their chance. They expanded their lands at the Vikings' expense, acquiring the Brythonic-speaking Cumbria to the south. Though they lost some northern territory to the newly-founded Kingdom of Alba, the Britannians managed to expand further to the south and west, their borders reaching to the River Tyne. This, invariably, brought the revived Britannia into conflict with the rising power of England. How Britannia found the strength to resist the Vikings, let alone overrun a considerable portion of their territory, remains unclear.
Contemporary accounts describe an army not much different from those of the English and the Vikings, and some hint that the Britannians marched alongside Viking allies. The Britannian legend even claims that some Viking warlords swore allegiance to Britannia's Kings. A possible explanation is a religious conflict, with both the legend and other accounts claiming that these particular Vikings were Celtic Christians, as opposed to the Roman Catholicism of the English and the Paganism still preferred by many Vikings. It is equally likely that the Britannians merely took advantage of a weakened, divided Danelaw.
Sic Transit Gloria Edit
Britannia would gain even more with the accession of Edward the Elder to the throne of Wessex in 899 AD. Doubtless preferring to have Britannia as an ally than an enemy, Edward offered the hand of his daughter Eadhild to Britannia's new King, Malcolm. Their marriage in 924, the first of many intermarriages between the two Royal families, did not merely bind Britannia and Wessex together as allies. It also sowed the seeds for the long-dreamed-of revival of the ancient Kingdom of Britannia. Edward died that same year, replaced by his son Aethelstan. Together, the royal brothers-in-law expanded their respective kingdoms at the expense of the Vikings, with the river Tees becoming the shared border. Both fought side by side at the epic battle of Brunanburh against the Scots and their Viking allies, their victory stabilizing the land, but leaving them militarily weakened.
Though both suffered Norse raids from time to time, relations remained relatively stable until the reign of Aethelred the Unready, beginning in 978. His failures as King were many, but perhaps the worst was ordering the massacre of all Danish men in England on St Brice's Day in 1002. This deed provoked or was a convenient excuse for, King Svein 'Forkbeard' of Denmark to invade in 1013. Aethelred proved as ineffective on the battlefield as on the throne, and he fled to France. His son Edmund, disgusted by his father's weakness, chose to remain and carry on the fight; his valor earning him the nickname 'Ironside'. He established himself in the Midlands and sought help from Britannia to the north. Svein died in 1014, and his son Cnut was forced to withdraw to Denmark when Aethelred returned with an army. But Edmund's anger still burned, and he defied his father by marrying the widow Ealdgyth, who was reputed to be of Royal Britannian blood.
Father and son squared off, but the timing proved fatal, as Cnut launched his own invasion in 1015, overrunning much of the country. Aethelred fled once again, and Edmund took up the fight alongside his principal ally, King Duncan of Britannia. Both fought hard, but Cnut was his father's equal in the skills of war, and many Saxons accepted his rule, preferring his strength to Aethelred's weakness and incompetence. When the armies faced off one last time at Assandun in October of 1016, it was Cnut who emerged victoriously. With Duncan dead, and his army destroyed, a sick and dying Edmund accepted a peace treaty which allowed him to retain Wessex, though with Cnut as his heir. His death the next month left Cnut as King of the whole of England, whose resources he promptly turned against Britannia. By 1020 he had conquered up to the Scottish border, and although his line would not outlast him long, he would be remembered as Cnut the Great.
After Cnut's death in 1035, the newly-unified England was ruled-over by his sons Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut until the latter's death in 1042. The beneficiary was Edward, son of Aethelred the Unready and his second wife Emma of Normandy, who had married Cnut after her husband's death. This made him the half-brother of not only Edmund Ironside, but Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut. Edward used this to maximum effect, presenting himself as an Englishman to the English and a Britannian to the Britannians. He further deepened his connection to his Britannian subjects by marrying Enid, a Britannian princess, and daughter of the late King Duncan. This highly symbolic event helped stabilize relations between the English, Britannian, and Scandinavian communities, continuing the work of Cnut.
Wrath of the Conqueror Edit
But all was not well around the throne of England. The most powerful man after Edward was Godwin, Earl of Wessex. A consummate survivor, Godwin had been a loyal servant of Aethelred, then Cnut, and both of his sons. Edward had reason to be suspicious of Godwin, for he was widely suspected of having murdered his older brother Alfred, a charge Godwin always denied. Godwin, in turn, had reason to worry, for when Edward returned from exile in Normandy he brought with him many Norman courtiers and followers, to whom he gave lands and important positions. In 1045 Godwin asserted himself by persuading or forcing Edward to divorce his wife Enid, who had failed to bear him a child and replace her with his own daughter Edith. Rumors abounded that Enid had borne Edward a son, who had been spirited away lest Godwin have him killed. The truth may never be known.
Edward neither forgot nor forgave the humiliation, and tensions simmered for a further six years in which he failed or refused to impregnate Edith. He made his move against Godwin in 1051, staging a fight between the people of Dover and the retinue of his brother-in-law, Count Eustace of Boulogne. Forced to choose between disobeying his King and punishing his own people with fire and sword, Godwin chose rebellion, only to flee to Flanders when the uprising fizzled. Edward's victory did not last long, for Godwin returned the next year with an army, and the King's support evaporated. Deprived of his Norman courtiers and reduced to little more than a puppet King, Edward turned increasingly to religion. He would forever afterward be known as 'the Confessor.'
Godwin did not long enjoy his victory. He died in 1053, replaced as Earl of Wessex and foremost over-mighty subject by his son Harold Godwinson, much to the annoyance of Edward's Britannian subjects. They had not forgotten the way Enid had been treated, and many may have believed in the rumored son and heir. Their ill-feeling was made all the worse by the rule of Harold's brother Tostig, made Earl of Northumbria in 1055. Heavy-handed and greedy, Tostig alienated Britannian, Saxon, and Dane alike. When in 1065 the Northumbrian lords rebelled against Tostig, Britannians supported them in great numbers. Faced with civil war, Harold put the good of the kingdom above brotherly love, and Tostig fled to Scandinavia, vowing revenge.
But if the Britannians resented the power of Harold Godwinson, this was as nothing to the hatred he provoked in William, Duke of Normandy. Regarding himself as the rightful heir to Edward's throne, William had in 1064 managed to extract an oath of support from Harold, reputedly on holy relics and almost certainly under duress. When Edward died in 1066, Harold broke his oath and accepted the crown. He readied himself to resist a Norman invasion, but the first challenge came in the north when King Harald Hardrada of Norway landed a fleet of three-hundred ships at Tynemouth. Supported by the exiled Tostig and his followers, Harald sought to take the throne of England for himself. Harold rushed north, and miraculously managed to defeat and kill both Harald and Tostig at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
It is at that moment when a Britannian nobleman named Ellyll vi Bretan finally made his move. His family, the House of Bretan, claimed descent from Alba Bretanus, the youngest daughter of Caratacus and the adoptive daughter of Atticus Bretanus, thus making the Bretans the descendants of Eowyn. According to the Bretan Legend, the youngest daughter of Caratacus, an infant named Arwyn, was abandoned after the baby's mother died of childbirth and Caratacus left her to die out of grief for his lost wife. The baby was then found by a Roman soldier named Atticus Bretanus. Bretanus presented the baby to Aulus Plautius. Plautius, out of pity for the baby, let Bretanus adopt Arywn and raise her as his own daughter, who was then dubbed Alba Bretanus. Whether or not this actually happened, the legend would prove crucial in the centuries to come.
Returning to Ellyll vi Bretan, he had seen both the threat and opportunity William presented. Therefore, he secretly sent a letter to William, promising to aid him in his conquest of England in exchange that he keep his lands and titles. William agreed to Ellyll’s terms. When William landed in Kent, Harold and his vassal Ellyll came south to face him, only for the latter to betray and kill Harold and aid William in winning the Battle of Hastings. William was crowned King of England in December and named Ellyll vi Bretan the Duke of Hastings. However, it would take many years before England was pacified under William’s rule.
Normans and Angevins Edit
As England was governed by the Norman and later the Plantagenet dynasties, the name of Britannia would be lost to history. The English would later claim the figure of Arthur for themselves, his story retold by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century. His account includes many elements taken for granted in Arthurian stories, such as his fathering by Uther Pendragon upon Igraine under cover of Merlin's magic, his marriage with Guinevere, and his death at the hands of his nephew Mordred at Camlann. Other popular elements, such as the city of Camelot, the Round Table, and Mordred as Arthur's son by his sister Morgan le Fay, were added in the romances of later centuries; by such contributors as Thomas Malory, Chretien du Troyes, and even Geoffrey Chaucer. But the Neo-Britannian kingdom that survived for nearly five hundred years largely vanished from history, its Royal line lost along with that of Wessex, its people and culture absorbed into a greater whole. It lingered on in song and story, and in the traditions of a handful of noble families. Eight centuries would pass before the Britannian Legend would have a chance to express itself.
Returning to William, he eventually died in 1087 and was succeeded by his son, William Rufus. William II was a great soldier and at times an effective ruler, but never a popular one. He enjoyed considerable military success in France and succeeded in driving off a Scottish invasion. But extracting ten thousand marks in taxation to loan to his brother Robert to finance a crusade was a particularly unpopular gesture. William Rufus died in 1100, struck by an arrow while hunting. He was replaced on the throne by his brother Henry I - whom some say was responsible for the killing. Ruling for thirty-five years, he proved a more effective administrator than his older brother had been; improving the judicial and taxation systems, and resolving a series of theological contentions. He even managed to prevent his older brother Robert from taking his throne by force, and then captured him and conquered Normandy. Under his reign, men of obscure origin - some of then Anglo-Saxons - rose to power under his patronage, and his Queen was the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon princess. All in all, his reign represented a gradual coming-together of Normans and Anglo-Saxons.
But an otherwise successful reign was marred when, in 1120, his son and heir William Adelin drowned off the coast of Normandy. Despite a second marriage, Henry would have no more children. Instead, he named his daughter Matilda, the Dowager Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, as his heir; marrying her to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and Maine, to strengthen her position. But when Henry finally died in December of 1135, Matilda's succession did not go smoothly. Unsettled by the thought of a female ruler, many nobles turned to Stephen of Blois, a nephew of Henry by his sister Adela, Dowager Countess of Blois. Stephen declared himself King in late December, but Matilda did not withdraw her claim. What followed was a period of civil war lasting until 1153, known afterward as 'The Anarchy', which left large parts of England devastated.
The ultimate beneficiary of this dark time was Matilda's eldest son, Henry. After invading England in 1153, he managed to persuade a war-weary Stephen to name him as his heir - passing over his son William, Count of Boulogne - in return for peace. When Stephen died in 1154, Henry took the throne as Henry II, the first of England's Angevin Kings. The Angevins would rule England from 1145 to 1485, being finally brought down by a period of internecine conflict remembered as the 'Wars of the Roses'; this came to an end in 1485, when King Richard III met his end at the Battle of Bosworth Field. His replacement as King, Henry Tudor, was the first of what would prove a mighty dynasty.
The Tudors Edit
He was succeeded in 1491 by his son Henry VIII, whose long and tumultuous reign would see England remove itself from the Roman Catholic Church. He, in turn, was succeeded by his son Edward VI in 1547, who is remembered primarily for his extreme Protestantism, and his attempt to remove his half-sisters from the succession in favor of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. His death by tuberculosis in 1553 brought his half-sister Mary to the throne, who sought to reverse his religious reforms in favor of Roman Catholicism. It is for her ruthless brutality in this cause that she is remembered, perhaps unfairly. She was succeeded in 1558 by her half-sister Elizabeth, who in the course of her reign managed to stabilize England and lead it to power and prosperity.
It was during Mary I's reign that the name of Britannia rose once again, in the form of Theon el Bretan, Duke of Hastings. Like many of the northern nobles, he was a Catholic, and he professed undying devotion to Mary. But when Mary commanded in 1558 that he marry her Protestant sister Elizabeth, Theon jumped at the chance. Mary was dying, and the marriage was a last-ditch attempt to preserve her re-Catholicization of England. But despite this, Mary had no intention of allowing Theon to become King of England, as a letter to Elizabeth shows;
“...he shall not have from my hand the crown of England, and I charge you never to grant it. For he is of that northern race that was Kings in ancient time, and would fain be Kings again.”
The marriage went ahead, with Theon attempting to get Elizabeth pregnant per the marriage customs. This he failed to do, leading to rumors both of his own impotence and that Elizabeth was using various underhand means to prevent pregnancy. He eventually succeeded in impregnating Elizabeth, but too late, for Mary died in November 1558; Elizabeth was subsequently crowned Queen in her own right, with the pregnancy remaining unconfirmed until several weeks later.
Elizabeth gave birth to a healthy son in August of 1559, naming him Henry. Theon was permitted to see the child but would have a limited part in his upbringing. Surprisingly, Theon voiced no opposition to this edict, as proven in one of his journal entries:
“I do not care about trying to gain more power via my marriage to her Majesty. The only thing that matters is my dear son, Henry, for he is precious to me, and all that I ask of my son is for him to be a good and just king. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
Perhaps it is because of this mentality, that Elizabeth allowed Theon to be more active in Henry’s upbringing. Despite this, however, he found himself to be ridiculed by other nobles due to his refusal to make a move for the crown. Thomas Howard, Earl of Norfolk, is said to have mockingly dubbed him the 'Duke of Britannia', referring to his boasted heritage. Theon embraced the title and took it with pride and dignity, an act that would pride the House of Bretan for centuries to come. Meanwhile, a lingering complication in Elizabeth's reign was her relationship with her son. Henry had inherited his mother's formidable intellect and his grandfather's hot blood; a dangerous combination at the best of times. Born in the year of her coronation, he would wait forty-five years to ascend the throne, a delay he endured with a remarkable grace and patience. But for all that, there was tension aplenty between mother and son, though not over any great difference of opinion, or any wrong that Elizabeth might have done Henry. As William Cecil once quipped, the dread lieth not in their enmity, but in their likeness; mother and son were simply too similar to get along peacefully. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was broadly able to manage her brilliant and increasingly restless son, usually by the expedience of slowly expanding his responsibilities. he most significant of these was being responsible for overseeing the settling and maintenance of overseas colonies, a cause he pursued with great enthusiasm.
The First Golden Age Edit
Elizabeth would face many challenges in the course of her long reign. Of those, among the most significant was the threat posed by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland. Mary regarded herself as the rightful Queen of England as well as Scotland, a claim in which she enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the Papacy. It was feared by many in England that Mary would use Scotland as a springboard for an invasion, backed by French and possibly even Spanish forces. This never materialized, due in part to Mary's difficulties in bringing her fractious kingdom under control, while France and Spain had plans of their own for England. Mary was ultimately let down by a combination of naivete and desire, leading her to unwise choices in friends, lovers, and husbands.
Her second husband - her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley - was by all accounts a drunken wastrel with a penchant for domestic violence, whose only meaningful contribution was fathering Mary's heir, James. Mary was later implicated in her husband's death in February of 1567, and in April of that year she was abducted by her current suitor and ally - James Hepburn, Lord Bothwell - and taken to his castle at Dunbar. A month later they were married, leading to a revolt led by Mary's half-brother, James Stuart, Earl of Moray. Having captured Mary and forced Bothwell into exile, James declared himself Regent with the support of Scotland's Presbyterian nobles; the Lords of the Congregation.
Elizabeth's reign is remembered as a great success. She successfully steered her country through forty-five difficult and vulnerable years, seeing off multiple rebellions and at least one major invasion attempt. Henry took the throne on his mother's death in 1603, by which point he was already married and the father of three children. His Queen was Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of the Earl of Moray, giving him and his descendants a blood tie to the throne of Scotland; a choice that had not sat well with his mother. Henry IX's reign is remembered primarily for colonial expansion. Under his rule, English colonies and trading posts in North America and India were expanded, and a large-scale program of colonization begun in Ireland; this was known as the 'Plantation of Ulster'.
North America was colonized in a series of individual efforts, led by a mixture of private individuals and companies. The most famous of these was the Virginia Company, which established Henrytown in 1604 as part of their Virginia colony. The success rate of these early colonies was mixed, but Henry's determination drove the project on, to the point of personally financing several Caribbean colonies. Experiments in the cultivation of cash crops such as sugar and tobacco proved highly profitable, providing the Crown with a lucrative source of income.
It is in this context that Henry's reign took a dark turn. One problem that had consistently dogged colonization of the New World was a shortage of willing manpower. Europeans had been traveling to North America throughout his and his mother's reigns in a steady trickle; their number included religious minorities such as the Puritans, the latter best remembered for those who arrived in 1620 aboard the Mayflower. Though some were willing to accept the authority of the English Crown, they were not enough to meet England's needs. During his mother's reign, Henry had found two methods to be effective, and he expanded both during his own reign.
One was to offer incentives, such as money or land; a policy Henry limited to would-be colonists with vital skills due to the expense involved. The other was the enforced transportation of convicted criminals, a practice Henry would come to depend on. He greatly expanded the number of crimes punishable by transportation, until his laws were popularly known as the 'Sail Code'. The experience of these unfortunates depended on the severity of their crimes. Those convicted of lesser offenses, such as theft or vagrancy, would step off the ships as free men, able to seek their own fortunes. Those found guilty of more serious crimes were sent as indentured labor, regarded even at the time as slavery by any other name.
Crown and Commonwealth Edit
By the time Henry died in 1625, England was a prosperous and powerful state, one of Europe's rising stars. But success concealed deep-rooted and festering divisions, both political and religious. As the threat of invasion receded, the unity of English and Scottish Protestantism began to break down as old divisions resurfaced. Though the Anglican Church encompassed a broad majority, there existed a substantial and growing minority of more extreme Protestants, notably the Puritans. They rejected the religious settlement the Church represented; its bishops, vestments, and ceremonies were a little too Catholic for their liking. Their ill-feeling was given greater vehemence by a regular stream of horror stories from Europe, itself in the grip of a series of conflicts that would come to be known as the Thirty Years War. Hard-line Protestants were outraged by reports of atrocities against their co-religionists and infuriated by the unwillingness of Crown or Parliament to do anything about it. To many, the only possible answer was a Catholic conspiracy at the heart of government.
The ascension of Henry's son Edward to the throne in 1625 brought this conflict to the surface. Edward was different from his father and grandmother in many respects. A childhood spent caught in the middle between his parents and his formidable grandmother had bred in him a tendency to be charming, to tell others what they wanted to hear in order to extricate himself from hard choices. This could be useful at times, but it also gained him a reputation for being two-faced and untrustworthy. He had a horror of conflict and recoiled from what he saw as the bigotry and intolerance of the hardliners, taking refuge in the color and ritual of high-church Christianity. Worse, in the eyes of hardliners, was his support for Charles I, then King of Scotland. The two Kings were second cousins via their grandparents - Mary Queen of Scots and her half-brother James - and brothers-in-law via Charles' sister Margaret, who married Edward in 1615. Charles, like his father James VI, sought to rule as an absolute monarch and shared Edward's high-church tastes. This, along with his marriage to the French Princess Henrietta Maria, put him at odds with hardline Protestants in Scotland.
The other center of resistance to the Crown was Parliament, an institution whose power had grown over the past century. By this point, it was bicameral, with the nobility being represented in the House of Lords and everyone else being represented in the House of Commons. In practice, the Commons were represented by a relative minority of rural gentry, elected via a limited franchise system developed in the 13th century. It could only be summoned by the King, and its primary purpose was to levy new taxes, granting the Crown revenue far in excess of what it would normally collect. The Commons had come to realize their importance over the years; the gentry, in particular, were the only ones with the authority and ability to collect new taxes at the local level. When combined with new religious and political ideals rising from the Reformation and the Renaissance respectively, the Parliamentarians began to get ideas. These included the notion, radical at the time, that Parliament should meet continuously whether the King summoned it or not. Even more radical was the idea that the King should be able to pass no new laws of any kind without Parliament's consent.
The stage was set for a clash of personalities and ideas, with tragic consequences for all concerned. Edward found himself faced with a Parliament that protested loyalty while barraging him with demands he found both unreasonable and insulting. These included the dismissal of many of his closest servants and allies, an end to his high church policies, and that he give up his Caribbean monopolies. The latter was particularly important, for it was the one thing allowing Edward to govern without Parliamentary taxes, as well as maintaining the guard regiments left to him by his father. Edward responded by dismissing Parliament in 1629 and ruling alone for eleven years. The crisis came in 1638 when Scottish Presbyterians formed a 'National Covenant' and rose in arms against Charles. Forced to flee to England with his family and closest supporters, Charles turned to Edward for help,
But Edward did not have the funds to raise a large enough army to oppose the Covenanters and was forced to summon Parliament in 1640. Parliament proved less than sympathetic, with many MPs siding openly with the Covenanters. Far from voting money and troops to support Charles, they raised a case against Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, Edward's Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, who commanded the only real army at Edward's disposal. When an attempted impeachment failed for lack of evidence, Pym resorted to an Act of Attainder, which needed less evidence but required the King's seal. Edward initially refused, unwilling to destroy a loyal and capable servant on the basis of hearsay. His resistance confirmed all of Parliament's suspicions, while Parliament's determination to destroy Strafford confirmed all of Edward's prejudices in turn. In the end, Strafford wrote to Edward asking him to sign the attainder, and condemn him to death for the unity of the nation. Edward would neither forgive nor forget.
Strafford's execution in 1641 sparked off of a full-scale uprising in Ireland. The revolt began as a coup attempt by Catholic Irish gentry, such as Phelim O'Neill and Rory O'Moore; their goal was to gain control of Ireland and negotiate for religious toleration and legal equality between the native Irish, the Catholic 'Old English' and the Protestant 'New English.' The authorities in Dublin over-reacted convinced that it heralded a general uprising by Catholic Irish against Protestant settlers. The brutality of their response merely widened the confrontation, and the prophecy became self-fulfilling as Catholic peasants attacked Protestant settlers; generally robbing and expelling them, in some cases killing them. The death toll is thought to have reached around twelve thousand, but English and Scottish pamphleteers put the number at anything up to two hundred thousand.
The killings provoked a wave of hysteria throughout England, and whatever calming effect had arisen from Strafford's execution was undone. Amid the hysteria arose old stories of indestructible men, and witches with mind-controlling powers. In January 1641 Edward attempted to arrest five Parliamentary leaders, only to discover that they had fled. Fearing for his and his family's lives, Edward fled the city and met up with his guard regiments, which Parliament had forbidden him to bring into London. Seeing no alternative, Edward raised the Royal standard at Nottingham. The English Civil War had begun.
The English Civil War Edit
The English Civil War was a slow starter. Large pitched battles were comparatively rare in the early years, with much of the violence consisting of small-scale local clashes; in many cases little more than gang-fights. With their armies numbering only around 15,000 men each, neither side was willing to risk all on a decisive engagement. The first pitched battle, at Edgehill in October of 1642, was an indecisive affair. During 1643, Yorkshire and the West Country emerged as the major theatres of war; located as they were between the Royalist heartland of the North, Wales, and Cornwall, and the Parliamentarian heartland of London and much of the south. Edward rather cautiously kept his main army at Oxford, at the center of a Royalist salient. On the whole, the major cities tended to favor Parliament, while rural areas favored the King.
1643 saw a gradual shift in the territory as both sides sought to consolidate their heartlands and isolate enemy territories. The Royalists consolidated their position in Wales and secured the West Country through to Cornwall; creating a Royalist crescent from northern Wales down to the south coast. Meanwhile, the Parliamentarians managed to push north and take Lancashire, cutting the Royalists off from their territory in the north and north-east. All the while, the war remained a curiously genteel affair; as both sides sought to end the war by negotiation. Even relatively hardline Parliamentarians sought to keep the King on his throne, while Edward knew that his best hope of re-establishing acceptable civil government after the war was with the cooperation of Parliament. This only added to the general indecisiveness of the conflict and stoked frustration in certain quarters.
The tribulations of the Parliamentarian cause saw the rise of one of the great names in English history, Oliver Cromwell. A Puritan MP who had fought in the war from the beginning, Cromwell had no time for the endless squabbling of the Parliamentarian leadership. Unlike most of them, he understood that the Royalists believed in the monarchy and were willing to fight and die for it, giving them an advantage over the disunited Parliamentarian forces. His answer was to create an organized, professional army, with hardline Puritanism as its ideological glue. Cromwell first tested these ideas with his own regiment of cavalry, dubbed the 'Ironsides.' Combining the dash and valor of the Royalist cavalry with iron discipline and religious fervor, they swept all before them.
This approach was expanded to the entire army in 1645, when Parliament established the 'New Model Army', with Cromwell as second-in-command. The New Model saw its first major victory at Naseby, forcing Edward to retreat north while the New Model conquered Royalist territory in the south-west. A subsequent victory at Langport destroyed the last Royalist field army. Edward was forced to flee north and spent the next year vainly attempting to replenish his forces. In May of 1646, he surrendered himself to a Scottish Covenanter army in Nottinghamshire.
To the Parliamentarians, it must have seemed like a victory. But it was not to be. Edward's cousin Charles remained free and was even then in secret negotiation with the Covenanters. Fearful of being sidelined by the hardline Puritan faction growing amid the Parliamentarians, the Covenanters signed a treaty with Charles in December of 1647, agreeing to restore him to his throne in return for religious freedom. Despite this, Charles had difficulty in convincing his people to attack England on behalf of his cousin. His desire to do so was driven as much by dynastic ambitions as a sense of loyalty to Edward, as his son Charles was betrothed to Edward's youngest sister Elizabeth. But the Scots were war-weary and reluctant to invade England for the sake of a King who did not share their faith; even if that King's enemies were little better. It would take a drastic turn of events in England to change their minds.
For Parliament, the growing influence of Puritan hardliners was bad enough. But a new force was rising in the shadow of the New Model Army, and gaining an ever greater hold over the Puritan movement. It was a group of officers, theologians, and political thinkers, who sought to reconcile the reformist zeal of the Puritans with the practical necessities of government. Coming to be known as the Conclave of Saints, or simply the Conclave, their plan was to take total control of the country and reorganize it into a perfect society in which a purified church and a godly state were ones and the same, and every man was equal under God. Their ideas won them support in the New Model Army, and they took advantage of the suffering wrought by the war to build a popular militia of sorts, known simply as the Poor Men. Edward's capture in 1646 was a turning point for the Conclave, who called loudest of all for the death of the King. Their numbers alone made them difficult to ignore, but the willingness of the Poor Men to riot on their behalf made them downright dangerous. Suspicious, but realizing that he could not afford to fight the Conclave, Cromwell went along with their policy.
Edward was put on trial, charged with personal responsibility for all the death and destruction inflicted by the war. The death toll is thought to have been around three hundred thousand, or six percent of the population. Perhaps knowing that he was doomed, with a mob of Poor Men surrounding the High Court of Justice, Edward did not even offer a plea. Needless to say, he was found guilty, in a trial that was by both contemporary and modern standards a farce, and executed by beheading on August 10, 1647. His death sent shockwaves across a Europe nigh-inured to bloodshed by the horrors of the Thirty Years War. None was more horrified than his cousin Charles, who is said to have turned deathly pale and collapsed in his seat upon hearing the news. This, combined with word of the excesses of the Conclave and the Poor Men, was finally enough to win the support of the Scottish Parliament, and the people, for war against England.
The Rise of the Bishops Edit
The war proved a disaster for the Scots. Despite the horror at Edward's execution and widespread fears of possible English aggression, neither the Scottish Parliament nor Charles' advisors could agree on the best course of action. As a result, the Scottish invasion of April 1648 was a confused, overly-cautious affair; despite the best efforts of its leader, the Crown Prince Charles. The Scottish army was large and comparatively well-armed, but political divisions between its commanders, especially between Covenanters and former Royalists such as the Marquis of Montrose, weakened its cohesion. Contradictory orders from Edinburgh led to slow progress; though Charles was able to persuade the traditionally Royalist city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to open its gates to him. This was ironic, for the city had twice endured capture by the Scots since the beginning of the crisis; first in 1640, and again in 1644 after a seven-month siege. Cromwell responded by marching north at the head of the New Model Army, defeating the Scots near Durham and forcing them to retreat north. In no mood to besiege Newcastle, Cromwell bypassed the city and pursued the Scots, destroying their army at Dunbar and taking Edinburgh shortly afterward. King Charles and his family were forced to flee abroad.
As Cromwell mopped up in Scotland and turned his attention to Ireland, the Conclave continued to grow in power. Taking advantage of its ability to intimidate Parliament and raise popular agitation, the Conclave took effective control of the Church of England, executing or imprisoning any clergy who refused to cooperate. Church and state were reorganized, with all civic and religious authority being centralized in the traditional Bishoprics (and new Bishoprics established where necessary). The Conclave's members took the title of Bishop for themselves; justifying it on the basis that it was a title used by the early pre-Roman Church. Though Parliament was technically the highest authority in the land, by 1651 the Conclave had taken effective control of the administrative structure of England; and would soon do the same for Scotland and Ireland. The British Isles would be, by the middle of the 1650s, under the control of an organized theocracy.
Cromwell's campaign in Ireland is by far his most notorious and is remembered primarily for the siege (and subsequent massacre) of the town of Drogheda, from 3rd to 11th September 1649. Despite fierce resistance, and considerable losses to hunger and disease - made worse by his army's primitive logistical system - Cromwell brought Ireland under effective control by 1652. Even then, this was facilitated by allowing Irish soldiers to seek employment abroad, in any army not currently at war with the Commonwealth of England. It was at that point that Cromwell began to truly realize the depth of the Conclave's ambitions. Though he approved of its efficient organization and many of its goals, he was unsettled by some of its more extreme activities; including the banning of Christmas and various public entertainments.
Rumors that the Conclave was reorganizing the Poor Men into a formal army under its own control finally drew Cromwell back to London. He spent the next year attempting to rally Parliament and moderate the Conclave's activities, all to no avail. On 20 April 1653, the Conclave finally made its move, ordering soldiers to arrest Cromwell and shut down Parliament. As he was arrested Cromwell made his last great speech;
“You say you are saints and righteous men, keepers of the peace of England. You who have made God a tyrant, Christ the jailor of mankind, and his holy word a lash upon the backs of honest men. You are no saints. I say you are no saints, nor righteous men. God have mercy on us. God save England from you.”
Oliver Cromwell, one of the most unlikely and arguably among the greatest generals and statesmen in British history, was unceremoniously executed two days later.
The rule of the Conclave would continue for seven more years; a period regarded as one of the darkest in British history. Without the political instincts of Cromwell, or someone like him, no one remained to stand between the Conclave and its ideals of a perfect, godly society. This, as much as anything else, would prove its downfall. Though later comparisons to totalitarianism are exaggerated, the Conclave's interest could reach almost every aspect of daily life, with local Bishops having almost complete discretion to act as they saw fit. Royalist plots, both real and imagined, were a constant concern, and some Bishops were known to have burned whole villages in order to stamp them out. Even without this, ordinary people were annoyed by the endless interference of the Conclave in their daily lives, backed as it was by the power of life and death. Traditional celebrations and feast days were forbidden, as were activities such as gambling, drinking alcohol, attending theatres, wrestling, and horse-racing. Death penalty offenses included atheism, blasphemy, holding 'obscene' opinions, and even adultery.
Return of the King Edit
A backlash was all but inevitable, and the signs were clear by 1658. The Conclave's army, on which it depended to maintain control, was overgrown, ideologically contaminated, and growing mutinous. The remaining nobility found themselves under increasing suspicion, as the most likely leaders of a revolt. But the real symbol of resistance and the Conclave's eventual downfall were a group of young men and women known as the Seven Bastards. The illegitimate sons and daughters of Orys de Bretan (who was killed by the Conclave), they were Brandon the Builder (due to his intelligence in crafting weapons of war), Lann the Clever (due to deceiving his enemies), Artys the Falcon (due to his swift ruthlessness in battle), Garth Greenhand (due to his love towards animals and nature), Nymeria the Iron-handed (due to being merciless in battle) , Axel the Trout (due to intimidating his enemies in battle), and Azor the Lightbringer (due to cleansing the “darkness” of the Conclave). They were linked to a rash of attacks on the Conclave, which included the assassination of Bishops, and the burning of Churches, tithe barns, and Bishop's Palaces. The Conclave reacted in the only way it knew how by lashing out in a paranoid rage. Even Conclave members, those moderates regarded as dangerous backsliders by the hardliners, were not safe.
As for their motives, the Seven Bastards had lost their father, Orys de Bretan, to the Conclave, while the rest of the House of Bretan fled with the royal family to the Netherlands. As such, they swore vengeance against the Conclave. They started this by freeing a village that was about to be put to the sword by the Conclave. They killed the bishops and their guards and took control of the village, being welcomed as liberators in the process. Their actions encouraged nobles and commoners to instigate a resistance against the Conclave.
The eventual leader of the resistance and the object of all its hopes was Charles Stuart, son of King Charles I of Scotland, and husband of Elizabeth Tudor, the rightful Queen of England. By this point, the couple was holed up in the Netherlands, the center of a small but growing Royalist exile movement, and plotting his eventual return. Charles I had died, some say of a broken heart, shortly after his arrival in exile. But their resources were limited, and the Conclave's assassins relentless. The man who truly made their return possible was Major General James su Bretan, son of Orys de Bretan, Duke of Hastings, and commander of the Conclave's Army of Scotland, but in reality, was a spy for Charles Stuart, reporting to him on every move the Conclave made. Secretly a die-hard Royalist, Bretan had survived the Conclave's suspicious attentions by carefully cultivating the image of a blunt, ale-swilling soldier's soldier; a man too stupid and simple-minded to pose a threat. But this image concealed a shrewd political mind and a deep-rooted sense of honor. Like many of his fellow generals, he was growing weary of the Conclave's tyranny and incompetence, and fearful of the civil disorder that its seemingly inevitable collapse would unleash.
By the time the final collapse began, in October of 1659, Bretan was in effective control of Scotland. This was, as much as anything else, due to the weakness of the Scottish Bishops; who had become dependent upon him to maintain order, and the collaboration of the Seven Bastards. Precisely what started the final crisis is unclear, but the most commonly-accepted narrative is a series of riots in London, sparked off when a soldier shot dead a child whom, he claimed, had been singing The Seven Bastards will have their due. The riots spread throughout the city, to the point where the garrison could not contain them. Several members of the Conclave were killed, and the rest forced to flee, only to be captured by soldiers under the command of Major General John Lambert. Lambert was part of a clique of hard-line anti-Royalists known as the Wallingford House Party; named for the home of another member, Major General Charles Fleetwood, in which they met. Seeing that the Conclave was running England into the ground, yet fearing for their lives if the Monarchy were restored, they launched a coup-d'etat; establishing a Committee of Safety on 26 October.
It was obvious to Bretan and the Seven Bastards that the Committee was exchanging one tyranny for another; a tyranny no more acceptable to the public than that of the Conclave. Their response was to lead an army south, crossing the River Tweed at Coldstream on 2 January 1660. The early part of their march took them through Berwick, Newcastle, and York; whose garrisons they added to their army. Lambert tried to gather his garrisons and mobile units into a usable field army but had insufficient funds with which to pay them. Bretan and the Seven Bastards, apparently aware of this, continued their advance while carefully avoiding Lambert's forces; denying him the pitched battle he desperately needed. On 3 February, Bretan's army entered London; Lambert's forces melting away ahead of him. Once in control of the city, they began communicating with Charles and Elizabeth in Brussels; who hoped to use his takeover as a vehicle for their own return.
Matters immediately became complicated, as the differing personalities of the two co-sovereigns-in-exile asserted themselves forcefully. Charles proved the more forgiving of the couple, expressing a willingness both to forgive those who had fought against his father and father-in-law (though not anyone directly involved in Edward's regicide) and to reign in cooperation with Parliament; at least up to a point. But Elizabeth was having none of it; her kill-list was considerably longer than her husband's, and she was determined to reclaim absolute power without condition. It took two months of tense negotiations before Charles was able to issue the Declaration of Breda in April, promising amnesty to all who would swear allegiance to the co-sovereigns and freedom of religion. Charles and Elizabeth returned to England in May, arriving in London on the 29th; their quarrels kept firmly in private. The couple was formally crowned as King and Queen of England and Scotland, their reigns backdated to the deaths of their respective fathers. As for the Seven Bastards, they were hailed as heroes for their fight against the Conclave and appeared before King Charles and Queen Elizabeth. They were knighted and, with the blessing of the King and Queen, formed their own houses rather than take the Bretan name. 7 houses were born that day: the House of Stark (founded by Brandon the Builder), the House of Lannister (founded by Lann the Clever), the House of Arryn (founded by Artys the Falcon), the House of Tyrell (founded by Garth Greenhand), the House of Martell (founded by Nymeria the Iron-handed), the House of Tully (founded by Axel the Trout), and the House of Targaryen (founded by Azor the Lightbringer). As these houses were of Bretan descent, they would be classified as Bretan branch houses, while James and his family would be classified as the Bretan main house.
The Second Golden Age Edit
Ruling over the now-united kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Charles, and Elizabeth would preside over a long and much-needed period of peace and stability. With England and Scotland's governing institutions ruined by the political chaos of the past two decades, the co-rulers took the opportunity to rebuild them from the ground up. The Church was stripped of its legal and administrative authority, though certain taxes would still be collected on its behalf. The administration was reorganized around the traditional Counties, led by the restored Lord Lieutenants with the assistance of County Councils. Their responsibilities included the administration of justice, the collection of taxes, the organization of the militia, and the maintenance of vital infrastructure; such as roads and bridges.
The counties, in turn, were formally subdivided into districts, replacing a variety of other subdivisions such as ridings, wapentakes, and tithings; though these lived on to some extent in the local culture. Districts were governed by Justices of the Peace, assisted by District Councils. In practice, the local gentry and nobility tended to dominate District and County Councils respectively; a state of affairs Charles and Elizabeth seem to have entirely intended. The exceptions to this rule were the chartered towns and cities, which were granted County status in their own right.
Society reacted quickly to the return of the two monarchs, throwing off Puritan restrictions in favor of a new age of pleasure, artistic expression, and scientific inquiry. The Restoration spawned whole new genres of art, music, theatre, literature, and even fashion. It would even provide England with a new capital, as the Great Fire of London in 1666 largely destroyed the old city; leading Charles and Elizabeth to appoint Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild it on a new, European-style street plan. The Restoration laid the foundations for the aristocratic culture of modern Britannia, along with many aspects of its political and military systems. Charles initially disbanded the New Model Army, regarding it as politically unreliable and constitutionally dangerous. But subsequent circumstances would force him to reform it, in effect founding the modern Britannian army and navy.
Though internal revolt and plots by anti-monarchist elements were constant threats, the greatest threat of all was the 'Sun King' Louis XIV of France, whose professional army and navy were the terror of Europe. Charles and Elizabeth were personally on good terms with Louis, and many aspects of their military organization were based on those of France; including the practice of putting regiments under the command of proprietary colonels. But the anti-French feeling was widespread, and the co-rulers' difficult relations with the Dutch Republic, which spilled over into a series of small wars, were deeply unpopular. The friendship between the British Isles and France was, for all the Royal goodwill, politically impossible.
Charles finally died in 1685, possibly of uremia; though in practice he was all but tortured to death by his physicians, whose medical knowledge was woefully lacking by modern standards. Elizabeth ruled alone for five more years, finally dying in 1690. In accordance with his mother's last wishes, Parliament passed the 1690 Act of Union in time for her son Richard's coronation, allowing him to take the throne as King Richard IV of Great Britain. His first challenge was what history would call the Nine Years War with France, which had been ongoing since 1688. The primary cause of the war was France's attempts to acquire neighboring territory, with a view to creating an impregnable fortress network designed by Sébastien de Vauban. Aside from the new Britain, five other powers would take the field against France; eventually leading to a compromise peace in 1697. It would not be the last of the so-called 'Cabinet Wars' to end so indecisively.
Richard oversaw a great expansion of British power, with his efforts focused primarily on North America. His reign would see a series of European wars, which would make the name of a certain Aurion la Targaryen. Attaining his first commission through the patronage of the King's uncle - James, Duke of York - Targaryen gained a reputation for physical courage at the Siege of Maastricht in 1673, when he fought in a thirty-man Forlorn Hope alongside no less a personage than Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan; the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas' most famous character. He would receive his first independent command in the Spanish Netherlands in 1688 and fight well enough to win King Richard's personal attention. So high had he risen in the King's favor that, in 1700, he was tasked with organizing a new European coalition against France; provoked by Louis' attempt to place his grandson on the Spanish throne. The War of Spanish Succession would drag on for thirteen years, ending in 1715 with another round of territorial exchanges. Targaryen would hold command for ten years, from 1702 to 1715, and win five great battlefield victories - Schellenberg, Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenaarde, and Malplaquet - as well as capturing thirty major towns, all the while fighting alongside the equally famous Prince Eugene of Savoy. Aurion la Targaryen would go down in history as the greatest general ever born in the British Isles.
Richard's death in 1735 revealed the only great failure of his reign; his lack of an heir. Despite two marriages, none of his many children survived to adulthood. His heir presumptive, therefore, was his cousin James Francis, son of James Stuart and his second wife Mary of Modena. The only problem was that James had been baptized and raised a Catholic, at the ardent wish of his father, who had converted to the Roman church in 1669. But since his father's death in 1701, James had fallen under the influence of his various Protestant relations; notably his aunts Mary and Anne, and Mary's husband William, Prince of Orange; not to mention the King himself. With Richard's death, the pressure to convert to Anglicanism and thereby silence a rising tide of popular discontent grew all the stronger. Eventually, declaring that he found his late cousin's High Church Anglicanism "quite tolerable", he gave in.
James II's reign was, for the most part, a great success. It was under his rule that British power was first established in India, as Britain and France struggled for control of lucrative trade with the various Indian Princes; nominally presided-over by a decaying Mughal Empire. British policy decisively changed in 1757, when Mir Jafar, commander of the armies of the Nawab of Bengal, plotted with the British to overthrow his French-leaning master, with whom he had quarreled. The result was the Battle of Palashi, in which a small British army under Lady Obara li Martell trounced the Nawab's much larger army; a feat greatly assisted the Nawab's premature retreat from the battlefield, and Mir Jafar keeping his division out of the fighting. This was only the beginning of a series of wars and conquests that would, by the end of the century, bring most of the Indian subcontinent briefly under British rule. British power was also expanded in North America, during the Seven Years War of 1756 to 1763; a war remembered mostly for the acquisition of Quebec, and the victory and martyrdom of General Rickard de Stark at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
When James died in 1766, he was succeeded by his son Henry Edward, who ruled as Henry X. In sharp contrast to his father, who had grown dour in his later years, Henry was handsome and charismatic, with a reputation for instinctive charm and at times a fine turn of phrase. But like those who went before him he was a devout believer in the Divine Right of Kings; that as King it was his right, and sacred responsibility, to wield absolute power for the good of all. On the face of it, this was no great problem, for Britain had enjoyed decades of prosperity and military glory under the rule of absolute monarchs; and bad memories of the alternative still lingered. Few if any wanted a return to the chaos of civil war or the tyranny of the Conclave. Beyond a deep-rooted but gradually fading fear of Catholicism, religious fervor had few attractions for the British people.
The American Revolution Edit
However, in the British colonies in North America, the situation was very different. Though Puritanism had once exerted a powerful hold over the American mindset, it was gradually being replaced by a new set of ideas. Educated colonists, men of the Enlightenment such as Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin - to name but a few - had come to dream of a new kind of government and society. Being largely Deists, they rejected the idea of a 'Godly' society, preferring instead a secular society in which Church and State would be separate. They also tended to regard Parliament's defeat in the civil war to be a disaster, though opinions varied as the to the ultimate cause, and constructed many of their ideas for a new government on the basis of correcting Parliament's mistakes. They were also adherents of classical republicanism, holding selfless service to the state to be a citizen's highest duty and honor, in return for which he enjoyed a citizen's rights and privileges. In this they set themselves against the Versailles-influenced court culture developing in Britain; a culture of extravagance, flattery, backbiting, and influence-peddling, with the all-powerful King at the center of everything.
For decades, fear of outside enemies - notably the French, Spanish, and Indians - had kept the colonists loyal. But the final defeat of France by 1763 removed this outside threat and left many colonists wondering why they paid such high taxes for an army and navy they neither wanted nor needed, controlled by a government that paid them little attention. Matters came to a head when Henry sought to bring colonial taxation in line with that of Britain, with the 1765 Stamp Act. In practice, this meant imposing a series of completely new taxes while enforcing others that had been quietly neglected by the more considerate Royal governors. This caused great anger among the colonists, who were reminded of the distinctly Parliamentarian notion that they could not, and should not, be taxed without their own consent.
The situation was made worse by Henry’s obstinacy; he was determined that the colonists should pay what he saw as their fair share towards the upkeep and security of the empire that protected and nurtured them. Matters reached a head in December of 1773, when citizens of the port of Boston, Massachusetts, boarded a merchant ship and threw its cargo of tea into the harbor in a protest against government taxation policies. Royal authorities reacted by closing the harbor until the tea was paid for, and by expanding the powers of Royal governors. Henceforth they could appoint or dismiss officials, appoint jurors, and restrict public assembly at will. Outraged colonists responded by forming a Continental Congress in September 1774, to form a united front against Royal tyranny. Henry responded in turn by dispatching troops to the colonies.
What would come to be known as the American Revolution, or the Great Rebellion as the Britannians call it today, began when government troops attempted to disarm the colonists. Of these, the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775 are arguably the most significant. The British discovered that while American militia could not stand against them in open field, they were not so easily defeated when able to take advantage of buildings or difficult terrain. As a result, they quickly found that while they could maintain control of the towns, the countryside belonged to the rebels. By the same token, rebel forces were unable to oust loyalist troops from fortified positions, as they lacked heavy artillery. It took Benedict Arnold's capture of Fort Ticonderoga, and the transfer of its heavy guns, before newly-appointed General George Washington was able to capture Boston for the rebels. When British troops evacuated on March 17, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies fell under effective rebel control.
Henry's response to these outrages was to order a full-scale deployment of warships and troops to North America. After landing near New York in August 1776, Howe managed to defeat Washington at Long Island and then capture New York itself. This might have been the end of the rebellion, if not for the failure of the Saratoga Campaign in October 1777. It was the rebel victory at Saratoga that finally convinced France to give more than the covert assistance they had thus far provided. This defeat also caused the British to abandon the central colonies and focus on the south. Primarily commanded by General Aenar la Targaryen and his second-in-command, a 22-year-old Ricardo le Bretan (born to a British father (William la Bretan) and a Spanish mother (Sofia le Bretan (formerly Sofia Lopez)), Duke of Hastings, British forces inflicted numerous defeats on the rebels, but all of them came at a terrible cost in casualties; a cost that could not be sustained. With French and possibly Spanish support, and with the British army suffering an unsustainable manpower drain, the rebels might have been able to wear the loyalists down and achieve victory. Indeed, this possibility was predicted in some quarters at the time. But then a young man would come around and be remembered as the man who came so close to achieving British victory.
Aegon the Dragon Edit
This man was named Aegon el Targaryen. The nephew of General Aenar la Targaryen, he was born in 1755 to Lord Aerion vi Targaryen and Lady Valaena el Targaryen, traveling with his parents to the colonies in 1760. Joining a light infantry regiment as a 'gentleman cadet' at the age of thirteen - the youngest age permissible - he is believed to have served during Pontiac's War and possibly the War of the Regulation at various points, as well as engaging in a series of 'police actions' against restive natives. He was accounted a good soldier, and rose to the rank of captain, only to leave in 1773 after the unexpected death of his father; ostensibly to settle his family's affairs and to enjoy his inheritance, which included the title of baron.
But he had also become aware of growing revolutionary sentiment in the colonies and began raising a network of spies and agents reaching across the colonies. The inner circle of this movement was a circle of twelve knights, led by his friend Sir Orys vi Baratheon, known as the Knights of the Round Table. These knights sought to suppress revolutionary agitation through espionage and assassination, but they also targeted corrupt and unpopular loyalists; whose misdeeds were fuelling revolutionary sentiment.
When war finally broke out, Aegon raised a regiment of cavalry for the loyalists, with several of his knights as its officers. He is also thought to have inserted some of his agents into the rebel forces and high command, tasked with rooting out their spy networks, passing false information, and generally causing trouble. They even visited the home of Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as they attempted to bribe and blackmail Franklin into betraying the rebellion, only for it to fail, resulting in Franklin departing for France, where he successfully convinced King Louis XVI to aid the Continental Army.
Returning to Aegon, his regiment performed well, but he became disillusioned after the failure of the Saratoga Campaign. Concluding that the generals did not understand the situation they were in, he took his regiment and a growing band of followers off on a private war west of the Appalachian mountains; putting down rebels and assisting loyalists and pro-British natives, and even finding time to assist Major Patrick Ferguson in the battle at King's Mountain despite the battle resulting in defeat for the British. His ruthless violence along the frontier earned him the nickname Aegon the Dragon; in sharp contrast to the good-natured Ferguson.
Aegon began a new campaign in the spring of 1781. With the British forces suffering heavy casualties, French support resulting in victory after victory for the Continental Army, and loyalists unwilling to serve in sufficient numbers, Aegon's attention had lighted on a new source of manpower; the south's considerable slave population. Many slaves had already been recruited - by British and rebel forces alike - but Aegon put his own spin on this process. His cavalry raided deep into rebel-held areas, burning plantations and setting slaves loose; taking back as many willing recruits as possible and leaving the rest to their own devices. Aegon paid particular attention to the estates of prominent rebels, but loyalists who had not taken up arms were targetted also; with the small courtesy of taking his pick of their slaves in return for not burning their estates.
These raids spread panic across the south; for whom slave uprisings were a constant dread. They also earned him powerful enemies even among loyalists - notably the notorious Banastre Tarleton. But his protection lay in the simple fact that he was getting results, as he was providing a regular stream of fresh recruits. When local militias failed to halt the raids, Washington came under increasing pressure to act against Aegon at the expense of splitting his army and making it even more vulnerable. However, not wanting to cause disunity within his men, Washington reluctantly gave the order to deploy some of his troops to deal with Aegon.
Seeing an opportunity, General Aenar la Targaryen and Ricardo le Bretan led their armies north into Virginia; hoping to deprive the southern rebel forces of their supplies, and catch Washington while he was vulnerable. After forcing back the smaller army of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, Targaryen and Bretan received orders from General Sir Henry Clinton to establish a coastal strongpoint at which large warships could safely land. This left them vulnerable, and Washington launched a desperate plan of his own; to catch the British army at Yorktown, between his own Franco-American army and a French fleet under Admiral de Grasse.
The plan worked. In what came to be known as the Siege of Yorktown, General George Washington, and the Continental Army dealt a crippling blow to the British army thanks to the timely arrival of southern rebel troops (who successfully drove Aegon and his forces away from their lands). General Aenar la Targaryen, as well several officers from the British army such as Tyrus el Lannister, Garth de Tyrell, and Arthur su Arryn were killed in the fighting, forcing Ricardo to surrender to Washington. In the aftermath of such a catastrophic British defeat, Henry X was left with no other choice but to negotiate with the Americans. As for Aegon el Targaryen, despite not being able to successfully crush the rebellion, the rewards would come thick and fast upon his return to England. News of his exploits had made him something of a war hero in Britain, and his contributions earned him the attention not only of the King but of his eldest daughter Elizabeth. It was the beginning of a partnership that would forever alter the course of history. But the same could not be said for Ricardo, who became known as The Man who Lost the Thirteen Colonies due to his surrender to Washington and was blamed for the success of the American Revolution by the nobility as a result. Surprinsgly, Henry X did not punish Ricardo for the loss of the colonies, taking full responsibility for the latter's failures. The reason why he did so still remains a mystery to this day.
As for the American Revolution itself, all conflict ceased on September 3, 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The end result was the birth of a new nation, a nation of liberty, equality, and democracy, a nation that would forever change the course of history, and a nation that would in time become one of the great superpowers on earth. It was called The United States of America.
A Time of TroublesEdit
The American Revolution may have ended in victory, but it would cast a long shadow. The victory of the American rebels and the birth of the United States divided the British people more deeply than was immediately apparent. To most of the aristocracy, the defeat showed the vulnerability of Britain's social structure and way of life, as well as their ultimate fitness to enjoy preeminence in that system. This left them embittered as a result, refusing to see any reason to change any particular part of it; an attitude that would have serious consequences later. By contrast, many in the educated middle classes - notably the merchant and artisan classes - were surprised and delighted by the rebellion's success. For those hoping for reform - and for a system in which the mercantile classes would enjoy political power commensurate with their wealth and economic importance - the success of the rebellion and the social and political complacency it induced was the first step toward realizing such reform.
As in France, the rebellion and the wider war it provoked represented an enormous financial liability for Great Britain. Though the Tudor-Stuart kings had brought Britain great prosperity, it had done so through a combination of profitable conquest and economic policies that favored the mercantile classes. Also, good relations with the Dutch Republic allowed for easy access to low-interest loans from the Dutch banking system. Under Richard IV, this was reinforced by a strict policy of fiscal conservatism and making interest payments on time. This made Britain a more trustworthy debtor than many of its neighbors, notably France, and as such kept interest rates on loans comfortably low. The result was an easy supply of credit to fuel Britain's war machine and burgeoning economy.
But these policies began to fray under James and Henry; in part due to the enormous expense of their various wars. But both were absolute monarchs de facto if not de jure - a matter that had never been decisively resolved - and both chafed under the restrictions imposed by Richard's policies. Faced with unwanted expenses, the father and later the son turned increasingly to deficit spending, maintaining an ever-growing national debt with ever more loans and increased taxes on the mercantile and artisan classes. Though sustainable at first, the ever-growing cost of debt maintenance required ever greater loans and ever higher taxes, or else ever more profitable conquests. Britain was trapped in a spiral from which it seemingly could not escape.
The American Revolution, and the enormous expense of failing to crush it brought the matter to a head. Ageing, unwell, and possibly senile, Henry failed to react effectively to the situation. Real power increasingly lay with his eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who was widely known to be opposed to her father and grandfather's profligacy. By the late 1780s, as her father grew increasingly ill, Elizabeth had matured from a turbulent young princess with a reputation for sexual voracity to a shrewd political operator, ably assisted by her two proteges and friends - some said, lovers - Aegon el Targaryen and Ricardo le Bretan, who, after the Siege of Yorktown, sought to redeem himself via direct service to Elizabeth. When her father finally died on January 31st, 1788, it was widely expected that she would take the throne in his place.
But this did not happen. Instead, the Council, the court, and much of the higher nobility united to keep her off the throne, raising instead her uncle, Henry's younger brother Charles; who took the throne as Charles III. No official reason was given, though it was widely rumored that a desire to keep Aegon and Ricardo as far from the throne as possible was among the main concerns. Elizabeth seems to have taken her thwarting with equanimity, perhaps willing to let her uncle discredit himself before making her move. If that was her intent, she would not have to wait long. Faced with ever-increasing maintenance payments on the national debt, and an overstrained economy, Charles resorted to the dynasty's nuclear option; to repudiate debts at his whim, daring his or the country's creditors to seek redress against a sovereign King of one of the mightiest empires on Earth.
His decision was not as cataclysmic as it might have been; repudiations took place on specific debts to specific creditors individually over the first years of his reign. But the inevitable effect was to destroy what remained of Britain's reputation as a reliable debtor, and as a safe and profitable investment. The repudiations were initially popular, with a public uninterested in the rights of foreign bankers, and provided brief financial relief for an overtaxed government. But reduced investment took its toll, and by 1790 the economy was in serious crisis. With unemployment rising, and food shortages occurring in some areas, Charles' government was left with only one serious option; a short, victorious war. And in February 1793, Revolutionary France conveniently provided one by declaring war on Britain.
Britain's involvement in the War of the First Coalition was a distinctly mixed affair. The Royal Army was no longer the superlative weapon it had once been, having been weakened by a decade of neglect and complacency. In the Flanders Campaign of 1792 to 1795, the British contingent was poorly organized and supplied, its commanders' small-minded martinets. Regiments were still owned by their colonels, who bitterly resisted any attempts by higher authority to intervene in any matter of their administration; be it training, supply, discipline, or any other. British troops were able to perform well in small-scale conventional actions - where their training gave them the greatest advantage - but suffered in larger engagements and when dealing with large numbers of French light troops. The Royal Navy, by contrast, performed much better; due to a culture of compulsory technical training and promotion on merit.
Divided we Fall Edit
Repeated military failures, combined with the economic strain inflicted by the wider war and Henry's pre-war policies served to radicalize an already restive populace. As in France, rumors of official incompetence or treachery angered the public, especially in London. The embarrassments of 1795 proved the last straw, and Parliament was deluged with petitions demanding anything from changes in policy to the removal of certain officers to immediate peace with France. When such deputations were rejected out of hand, Londoners sought to make their point with angry demonstrations, many of which spilled over into an outright riot. As word of the disorder spread, large numbers of people from surrounding counties began moving into the city, making the situation much worse.
Matters came to a head on July 14th, 1796, when a group of pro-French intellectuals and journalists openly celebrated Bastille Day; sparking off a series of pro and anti-French demonstrations and riots. Some of the pro-French and revolutionary groups are known to have been influenced and assisted by French agents. Holed up in Windsor Castle with the seemingly incapacitated King, Charles' councilors unleashed the Royal Guard onto the streets to restore order, to little effect. When ordered to open fire, some units obeyed while others refused, causing even more confusion. For a few brief hours, it looked as if the British monarchy would fall in much the same way as its French counterpart had.
The monarchy's savior was none other than Elizabeth, whose hand was finally forced. With the help of supporters on the inside, Elizabeth and a group of followers -including the House of Bretan and its branch houses, Aegon, Ricardo, and Sir Orys vi Baratheon - managed to storm Windsor Castle and capture most of the government and senior courtiers, including the King. Finding the King bedridden and seemingly unresponsive, Elizabeth declared herself Regent and ordered the Royal Guards to withdraw. The next morning she issued a formal proclamation, blaming several of her uncle's closest supporters for the violence and promising reform. Elizabeth's seizure of power came to be known as the Windsor Coup, and for the moment, at least, the crisis was averted.
It was at this point that Elizabeth arguably made her worst mistake. With her position seemingly secure, she went on to declare that her uncle's taking the throne had been illegal and took advantage of his incapacity (and probable senility) to have him formally deposed by Parliament, who then granted her the crown as Queen Elizabeth III of Great Britain. Though her own supporters, the London mob, and the merchant classes reacted well to this development, the high aristocracy and many others regarded the move as illegal and treasonous. Tensions would simmer for many years, finally erupting in 1805, when the Royal Navy suffered arguably its worst tragedy. On October 21st, a British fleet under the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson faced a combined French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar. In the battle that followed, the British fleet was narrowly defeated, and Admiral Nelson killed.
News of his death plunged Britain into mourning, but grief soon turned to anger when rumors spread that Nelson had been betrayed. The rumors were only strengthened when a British warship, HMS Cadmus, returned to Portsmouth with most of its officers missing. The surviving officers and crew claimed that the Captain and senior officers had withdrawn Cadmus from the battle line contrary to Nelson's orders and that several other ships had done likewise. The Admiralty denounced their accusations and arraigned the surviving officers and several members of the crew on charges of mutiny and murder, finding all guilty. The resulting public outcry led Elizabeth to intervene, overturning the judgment and accusing the Admiralty of covering up a treasonous conspiracy. Arrests followed, and hundreds of officers resigned their commissions in protest, throwing both the navy and later the army into chaos.
But worse was to come in June of 1807, when Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, finally launched his long-dreaded invasion of Britain; delayed by Prussia's unexpected declaration of war in that same year. With Napoleon occupied in the east, the invasion was led by Admiral Pierre Villeneuve - the victor of Trafalgar - and Emmanuel de Grouchy; along with Rafael del Riego commanding a substantial Spanish contingent. The first landings were made along the Kent coast, despite heavy resistance by coastal fortifications. Within two days of the first landings, Dover was surrounded and under siege, while more and more troops came ashore at smaller ports.
Elizabeth activated her defense plans and ordered troops to gather at the major cities and towns. But the south-eastern nobles dithered; some of them dismissing the warnings as an invasion scare, while others even believed that the warnings were a scheme by Elizabeth to seize their estates and enforce martial law. So great was their distrust of Elizabeth that a great many refused to cooperate, even pulling militia or regular army units off the line to protect their estates, or to form local self-defense leagues. These leagues quickly fell prey to Napoleon's troops, and within a week of the first landings, London itself was threatened.
The Humiliation of EdinburghEdit
Elizabeth was forced to flee London, accompanied by her government, the Royal Guard, and the Treasury's gold reserves loaded onto wagons. She halted first at Cambridge, staying to oversee the fortification of the city and organize the raising of fresh troops. As word of the failed self-defense leagues spread, nobles and commoners alike began to rally behind their Queen. As French troops stormed London and spread out west, with the less reliable Spanish troops mopping up behind, British troops and militia retreated north and west, gathering in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, and Northamptonshire, as well as Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
Realizing that the British could still muster significant forces against him, and uncertain of the Spanish and other allied troops under his command, Grouchy decided on a cautious policy. His allied troops were tasked with creating a defensible zone in the south-east, securing ports and cities to make landing reinforcements as easy as possible, and to secure against a British counter-attack. Having learned that Elizabeth was at Cambridge, he nevertheless deployed an army of 30,000 troops in an attempt to take the city and kill or capture her. But a British army under the command of Lady Rhaenys eu Targaryen (the cousin and wife of Aegon), and Lady Visenya cru Targaryen (another cousin of Aegon) halted its advance near Great Chesterford.
Buoyed by this much-needed victory, Elizabeth headed north on a tour of inspection, overseeing the fortification of cities and towns, and organizing troops and supplies. Meanwhile, having learned that Napoleon was less than impressed with his cautious strategy, Grouchy turned his attention west, seeking to win a major victory before Napoleon finished his business in the east. In this goal he succeeded, catching and destroying Elizabeth's Army of the West near the town of Andover; allowing him to swing south and take Southampton, and then besiege Portsmouth; whose defenses were much more formidable. After a two week siege, including repeated naval attacks, and despite a heroic defense, Portsmouth fell on July 28th.
Napoleon himself arrived in London on August 10, receiving a rapturous welcome from pro-French Britons who had gathered in the city. Sufficiently impressed to let Grouchy keep his army, Napoleon nevertheless took overall command. Tasking Grouchy with a push on Bristol and the west, Napoleon launched a full-scale offensive north, forcing the defending armies under Rhaenys and Visenya, Sir Torrhen zi Stark, and Sir Loren li Lannister to withdraw. With British Volunteer units slowing Napoleon's advance with guerrilla attacks, the three armies successfully withdrew behind the River Trent, taking up fortified positions along the river. But such battles were grist to Napoleon's mill, and he planned a three-pronged attack on Nottingham, Derby, and Newark-on-Trent.
The attack began on August 26th, with Napoleon once again doing the unexpected. Taking command of the eastern column supposedly targetting Newark-on-Trent, he actually turned north and marched on Lincoln, which was defended only by a militia. Despite a desperate defense, Lincoln fell in the space of a day, and Napoleon quickly headed north towards Gainsborough, where he could cross the Trent and outflank the main British armies opposing him. By this point, the two drakaina (female dragon) had guessed Napoleon's intentions, and rushed their army north to Gainsborough, pleading with Stark and Lannister to support them. Lannister insisted on holding his position at Nottingham - where he was successfully holding the French at bay - and Stark was too slow to react. All Rhaenys and Visenya could do were delay Napoleon's vanguard at Gainsborough, before superior numbers forced them to withdraw to Doncaster.
The situation was grave, but by no means fatal. Napoleon was at the limit of his supply lines, and more British troops were gathering around York. The two drakaina planned to dig in at Doncaster and throw Napoleon back if he tried to advance further, or else counter-attack in force once sufficient troops had arrived. But his plan was ultimately ruined by Stark, and a coterie of high nobles of which he was part. Angry at having to abandon and even destroy their estates on Elizabeth's orders, and ashamed at the progress of the war, Stark and his allies were determined to strike back at Napoleon and succeeding in forcing Rhaenys and Visenya to support them. The armies clashed at Bawtry, along the River Idle, on September 2nd. The battle was a disaster for the British, with an 80,000 strong army largely destroyed.
At the same time, the ultimate disaster of the war was taking place in Edinburgh. Elizabeth had stopped in the city as part of her tour, only to become trapped in Edinburgh castle as law and order broke down. Worse, she had left her Foot Guards behind in Newcastle, to form the core of a new Army of the North as well as to convince the citizens that she meant to fight. With food supplies to the city disrupted, and revolutionary sentiment still widespread, it was a simple matter for French agents and revolutionary clubs to stir up the city. One of these, the so-called Edinburgh Revolutionary Council, demanded Elizabeth's abdication and peace with France. Trapped in the castle, physically and psychologically exhausted, with food running low, and without even Aegon and Ricardo's support (as the latter was busy evacuating the Bretan main/branch houses and the people of Hastings before the French arrived), Elizabeth finally hit her breaking point when news of the Battle of Bawtry reached her via her spies. Telling a tearful Sir Walter Scott "get you gone, Sir Walter, I will not see you hang,", Elizabeth signed the abdication on September 14th, 1807.
The news sent shockwaves across Great Britain. Napoleon, who had not wanted this, could only watch in disbelief as Britain violently disintegrated around him. Revolutionary mobs and army deserters ran wild, while the citizenry barricaded their streets and shouldered muskets to defend their homes and property. The populace rapidly broke down into factions, some favoring the Americans, the French and revolution, others violently opposing them, while yet more were interested only in self-defense. Foreigners of any kind, ethnic and religious minorities, were all targets. In some areas, anyone wearing a uniform was killed or forced to flee. Law and order, and society itself were breaking down.
But all was not lost for Elizabeth. Aegon and his Round Table Knights were still at large, and they were quick to respond. Two weeks after the abdication, Aegon personally led a mission to Edinburgh; stealing into the castle and snatching Elizabeth and several of her fellow prisoners. By the time anyone realized what had happened, Elizabeth and her rescuers were safely out of the city, and on their way to Dunbar where they were met by Rhaenys, Visenya, Stark, Lannister, Ricardo, the Bretan main/branch houses and the people of Hastings. There, they boarded the warships HMS Aeneas and HMS Aenar and sailed north, rejoining what remained of the Royal Navy on the way. Convinced that Great Britain was lost, Aegon persuaded Elizabeth to escape with him to British Canada despite Ricardo arguing otherwise. Neither of them would ever see the British Isles again.
Returning to Napoleon, it was increasingly apparent that only he had the power to restore order, and in September of 1807, a deputation of surviving notables - a mixture of nobles, gentry, civic leaders, bishops, and military officers of one sort or another - asked him to do just that. Fortunately for them, Napoleon had already found a suitable candidate to replace Elizabeth. During her frantic retreat north, Elizabeth had been forced to leave behind her youngest nephew Michael, by then aged only fifteen, at the Royal Palace at Sandringham in Kent. Elizabeth was by all accounts fond of the boy and was reputed to have been grooming him as her successor. But she was by September on her way to exile, and Michael found himself surrounded by a growing band of refugees and lost army units, gathering around him for want of anywhere else to go. He was soon visited by Napoleon, who made him an offer he could not refuse; the Crown of Great Britain, and French withdrawal from the British Isles. In return, Ireland was to be acknowledged as an independent nation, and all British overseas holdings were to be turned over to French authority. With no realistic alternative, and what remained of the government begging him to accept, Michael acquiesced.
Canticum ex Glacie Ignem Natum Imperium Edit
If Great Britain's story had come to an end, then Britannia's story was just beginning. From her new capital at Quebec City, Elizabeth worked to bring British Canada into line, though many problems were rapidly becoming apparent. Though she had around 20,000 regular troops available, they tended to be poorly-trained raw recruits; all better units having been transferred to the British Isles years earlier. She could also raise around 40,000 militia, but these varied considerably in their capabilities; ranging from the excellent colonial dragoons - kept in practice by hunting down troublemakers and keeping order on the frontier - to the generally poor infantry battalions. A steady stream of loyalists and other refugees followed her into exile, but these tended to be nobles; the first wave being mostly penniless unfortunates fleeing for their lives, while those after 1809 were embittered emigrants bringing their property with them. Elizabeth initially nominated Ricardo as her Regent but fate had other plans. Ricardo fell into a coma days prior due to the stress of everything that occurred from losing Hastings to the fall of Great Britain as a whole. Elizabeth had Aegon replace Ricardo as a result; Aegon swiftly established himself as Elizabeth's Regent and right-hand man, drawing on local connections and his own resources to establish a functioning government. The new government was, needless to say, packed with Aegon's own partisans; a mixture of British nobles and local dignitaries he had established relationships with over the years.
On October 18th, 1809, Queen Elizabeth III breathed her last, surrounded by her most senior courtiers. To the shock of her blood relatives present, she named Aegon as her successor, as Ricardo was still in his coma. As it was, the declaration sent shockwaves through the court, and through British Canada as a whole. Aegon was widely respected, having proven himself as an administrator and Regent when Elizabeth III began to fall gravely ill, but his stern personality and somewhat harsh rule prevented him from being truly loved by the people. On top of that, he was being granted the crown over Elizabeth's surviving blood relatives. Though only a few distant relatives remained, this act became a serious breach of both tradition and practice. Despite all of this, it became clear that Aegon would have the crown no matter what. Backed by the Bretan branch houses and his own court faction, Aegon was in effective control in a matter of days, though the violence unleashed by his ascension would drag on for many months.
Through a series of pamphlets titled Canticum ex Glacie Ignem Natum Imperium (Latin for "From a Song of Ice and Fire, the Empire is Born"), Aegon outlined his plan for a magnificent new empire that would last for a thousand generations. He won over nobles and commoners alike with the promise of untold riches, of an empire in which everyone would live in unity. However, in order to accomplish such feats, this new empire would have to be as cold and harsh as ice, and as hot and passionate as fire. In addition to the pamphlets, Aegon launched nationalistic propaganda to legitimize his ascension. This included promoting the tale of the Hero-King Eowyn as the first great defender of the British Isles. Aegon also said that the Humiliation of Edinburgh was a sign by God to start fresh in the New World and away from the Old World. For his new society would be a holy empire, based on divinely-ordained authority answerable to none but God. Therefore, Aegon el Targaryen proclaimed British Canada as the Holy Britannian Empire. This became known as the Imperial Proclamation.
Needless to say, this proclamation did not go without resistance. The first backlash came from other court factions, generally centered around Elizabeth's surviving relatives. Though there was no Imperial Guard at this stage, Aegon had several knightly orders at his disposal; chief among them the Round Table and the other Bretan branch houses (who were the first to swear fealty to Aegon). Led by Sir Orys vi Baratheon, these knights moved swiftly against Aegon's enemies, killing dozens in a single night. Those of Elizabeth's relations not killed were forced to flee, some of them all the way back to Britain. Riots broke out in many towns and cities; some of them professing loyalty to King Michael. All such resistance was bloodily suppressed, and Aegon again reminded people why he was called Aegon the Dragon during the American Revolution.
But this paled in comparison to Ricardo le Bretan's reaction to the Proclamation after he woke up from his coma 3 days after the Proclamation. The exact details about the resulting confrontation between Ricardo and Aegon are lost to history, but one popular theory states that Ricardo accused Aegon of deceiving the late Elizabeth III into naming him the heir and virtually abandoning the people stranded in Great Britain. Aegon replied by saying that because of the incompetence of the British, from losing the 13 Colonies to losing London, that Great Britain (in his eyes) was dead and gone. A furious Ricardo then disowned Aegon as well as terminating the relationship between the Bretan Main House and its Branch Houses. Aegon would come to resent Ricardo for that, as well as developing a severe hatred of the Bretan Main House, a hatred that would spread throughout Britannia and pass on to his descendants in the centuries to come. As for Ricardo le Bretan, he gathered his family and whatever friends he had left and left Britannia altogether. Great Britain was too dangerous to return to, and so was Europe, so Ricardo decided to move to the United States of America. Despite being natively British (and still being widely remembered as The Man who Lost the Thirteen Colonies), Ricardo and his family would become U.S. citizens in 1811.
Returning to Britannia, by the time of Aegon's magnificent coronation in June 1810, the newborn empire appeared to be completely pacified. With Aegon now crowned as Emperor Aegon val Britannia I, he renewed his vow with Rhaenys, who became Empress Rhaenys eu Britannia, as well as taking Visenya, who became Empress Visenya cru Britannia, to wife. This curious naming system had been an invention of Aegon's, a means of separating their bloodlines while acknowledging their connection to the main household. As Aegon had posthumously proclaimed the Hero-King Eowyn as the 1st Emperor of Britannia, he was now the 87th Emperor of Britannia. The Targaryen Dynasty was born.
Emperor Aegon then laid out his intentions for the future empire; a program of imperial expansion that would bring all of North America under Britannian rule. Dazzled by the prospect of land and wealth beyond imagining, the nobles fell over themselves to pledge their wealth to Aegon's cause. With the nobles now in line, Aegon had a constitution written up in order to keep any would-be revolutionaries in line. The Aegonian Constitution stated that the armed forces were loyal and answerable only to the Emperor and that an Imperial Parliament consisting of a non-elected House of Lords and an elected House of Commons would be established. State legislatures also consisting of elected officials were set up to oversee parts of the empire. However, only the landowning wealthy elite was given voting rights. Quebec City, having been renamed to Pendragon, was also proclaimed as the new capital. Aegon also changed the calendar system as a symbol of Britannia severing its ties with Europe, using the year 55 BC (the ascension of Eowyn) as its epoch. The new calendar served as a reminder to the people of the Holy Britannian Empire to never forget the loss of the British Isles. The year was then established to be 1865 a.t.b. instead of 1810 AD.
The First American War (War of 1812) Edit
The establishment of the Holy Britannian Empire had sent shockwaves throughout North America and Europe. But while many Europeans (especially Napoleon Bonaparte and the French) dismissed Britannia as a threat and even mocked it as a wannabe Great Britain, the United States saw the threat the empire would pose in the near future. U.S. President James Madison believed so, thus he began to prepare the U.S. Armed Forces (and the American people) should America be invaded by Britannia. The Americans finished in the nick of time.
By 1812, Emperor Aegon I's dynasty was already secure via his two adult sons, Prince Aenys eu Britannia and Prince Maegor cru Britannia (rumored to be the bastard son of Aegon and Visenya), while Aenys himself was married and had three children of his own, Prince Jaehaerys el Britannia, Princess Alysanne el Britannia, and Prince Viserys el Britannia. In addition, the newly created Imperial Britannian Armed Forces led by Empress Visenya cru Britannia had already been tested by crushing a republican uprising (Hoare's Rebellion) led by Harren le Hoare in 1811, with Hoare being personally executed by Aegon. As such, Aegon quickly commenced his expansion plan, his first target being the United States. Many nobles were still bitter over the loss of the 13 Colonies and had sought to break the back of American freedom by adding the country to their empire out of pure spite. Aegon himself sought to avenge his uncle, the fallen general Aenar la Targaryen. Thus, in that same year, the Holy Britannian Empire sent an ultimatum to the United States: surrender and swear fealty to Emperor Aegon or be utterly destroyed. Naturally, the Americans chose to fight. The War of 1812, or the First American War as the Britannians called it, had begun.
In order to strike at Britannia, U.S. forces almost immediately attacked Pendragon. American officials were overly optimistic about the invasion’s success, especially given how well prepared U.S. troops were at the time. On the other side, they faced a well-managed defense coordinated by Sir Orys vi Baratheon, the Knights of the Round Table, and Emperor Aegon himself. On August 16, 1812, the United States suffered a humiliating defeat after Aegon’s forces chased those led by Michigan William Hull across the Britannian border, scaring Hull into surrendering Detroit without any shots fired.
Things looked better for the United States in the West, as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s brilliant success in the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813 placed the Northwest Territory firmly under American control. William Henry Harrison was subsequently able to retake Detroit with a victory in the Battle of Thames (in which Sir Orys vi Baratheon was killed). Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy had been able to score several victories over the Imperial Britannian Navy in the early months of the war. With news of the defeat of Napoleon’s armies in April 1814, however, Britannia was able to turn its full attention to the war effort in North America. As large numbers of troops arrived, Britannian forces led by Empress Visenya cru Britannia raided the Chesapeake Bay and moved in to the U.S. capital, capturing Washington, D.C., on August 24, 1814, and burning government buildings including the Capitol and the White House to the ground, an act that would cement the rivalry between the two nations in the centuries to come.
On September 13, 1814, Baltimore’s Fort McHenry withstood 25 hours of bombardment by the Britannian Navy. The following morning, the fort’s soldiers hoisted an enormous American flag, a sight that inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem he titled “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Set to the tune of an old English drinking song, it would later be adopted as the U.S. national anthem.) Britannian forces subsequently left the Chesapeake Bay and began gathering their efforts for a campaign against New Orleans.
However, by that time, peace talks had already begun at Ghent (modern Belgium), as Emperor Aegon began to realize that his newborn empire would die prematurely should the war continue. Therefore, he moved for an armistice after the failure of the assault on Baltimore. In the negotiations that followed, Britannia promised to leave its borders unchanged and abandon efforts to create an Imperial state in America. On December 24, 1814, commissioners signed the Treaty of Ghent, which would be ratified the following February.
On January 8, 1815, unaware that peace had been concluded, Britannian forces led by Empress Rhaenys eu Britannia mounted a major attack on New Orleans while U.S. forces led by Andrew Jackson and Ricardo Bretan put up a fierce defense in response. Jackson, however, was fatally wounded after saving Ricardo from a Britannian cannonball. Jackson's heroic sacrifice motivated Ricardo and the rest of the U.S. forces to continue fighting. Surprisingly, Ricardo engaged Rhaenys in single combat. In the end, Ricardo was able to deal a fatal wound to Empress Rhaenys. Ricardo, however, took pity on the dying woman and allowed her to take her own life with dignity. The death of Empress Rhaenys eu Britannia led the rest of the Britannian forces to surrender, resulting in a decisive victory for Ricardo and the U.S. forces. News of the battle boosted sagging U.S. morale and left Americans with the taste of victory while Ricardo himself was hailed as a national hero after the war, as the country started celebrating the end of the war against the Holy Britannian Empire.
Back to Britannia, Emperor Aegon was embarrassed by the failure to conquer the United States, and devastated by the death of Rhaenys. With the War of 1812 over, he sought to restore Imperial honor and prestige. He did so via the annexation and resulting conquest of Greenland and Iceland in 1820, as Europe was still too weak after the Battle of Waterloo and the resulting death of Napoleon Bonaparte to retaliate.
The remaining eleven years of Aegon I's reign were peaceful. He spent much of his time consolidating his power by traveling throughout Britannia and building his capital at Pendragon. Aegon devoted half of every year to make these royal tours. After he celebrated his 74th birthday in 1830, the royal tours continued but were now made by his Aenys and his family while the aging emperor remained at home. By this point late in his reign, Aegon decided that the original government bureau which housed the late Elizabeth III and Aegon himself was not a suitable seat for an emperor, so the structure was torn to the ground in 1832. Aegon moved his family and court to Montreal, while he commanded the construction of what would later be called the Imperial Palace.
By 1833, peace and stability had been secured for Britannia, with the empire taking a page out of America's playbook (Manifest Destiny) by expanding west to the Pacific Ocean. But Aegon knew that his days were numbered, as his health was slowly failing him each passing day. He, therefore, needed to name a successor fast if the empire was to remain stable. As much as he loved Prince Aenys, Aegon knew that his son was too sickly, weak, and incompetent to be a strong emperor. This issue soon became moot upon Aenys' death after a long battle with tuberculosis on April 1st, 1833. As for his grandson Prince Jaehaerys, despite showing the qualities of a true emperor and having already demonstrated to be capable of ruling, he was still young and not yet ready to take on the responsibility of ruling the empire. This left Prince Maegor as the only possible candidate for the throne (which was now being called the Iron Throne at that point, due to the swords of fallen rebels during Hoare's Rebellion being used the build the throne). Maegor was already known throughout Britannia as a great soldier, as well as an effective military commander due to his experiences in the Napoleonic Wars, Hoare's Rebellion and the First American War (War of 1812). But he was also notorious for his cruelty on the battlefield and vices at home, as seen through the expulsion and sometimes unnecessary extermination of several native tribes during Britannia's expansion west as well as taking any highborn woman that was pretty enough to him to satisfy his lusts. It was perhaps a miracle that he did not sire any bastard children. Seeing that there was no other alternative, Aegon, in his will, declared Maegor as his successor to the crown. But on May 4, 1833, just as he was about to sign the will, Emperor Aegon val Britannia I suddenly had a stroke and succumbed just hours later. He was 77 years old.
News of Aegon's death quickly spread throughout North America. In the United States, many Americans, especially in the South, rejoiced knowing that the man responsible for many atrocities committed during the American Revolution was gone from this world. As for Britannia, the empire was plunged into mourning, with nobles and commoners alike grieving over the loss of Britannia's founder. But for Prince Maegor and his mother, Dowager Empress Visenya cru Britannia, an unlikely opportunity presented itself.
Maegor the Cruel Edit
Upon hearing of Aegon's death on May 5, Maegor and Visenya immediately left Montreal for Pendragon before anyone would notice. There, on May 6, Visenya crowned Maegor as Emperor Maegor cru Britannia I, 88th Emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire. Gawen Yohnson, the Britannian Prime Minister, protested Maegor's coronation, stating that by all the laws of inheritance, the crown should pass to Jaehaerys. In response, Maegor personally shot and killed Gawen before using the Targaryen sword Blackfyre to behead him. Not long after, his mother, Dowager Empress Visenya challenged those who questioned her son's right to rule to prove themselves. Only Ser Damon Morrigen, Knight of Three and a friend of Jaehaerys, came forth. Maegor quickly decided to settle the matter with a duel, to which Morrigen agreed to. In the end, only Maegor came out alive.
The next six years of Maegor's reign were one of turmoil for Britannia. With the support of his mother, he brutally silenced any who questioned his legitimacy, as well as continuing his extermination campaigns against the native tribes that opposed Britannian expansion west. During that period, the Imperial Palace in Pendragon was finally completed. Afterward, Emperor Maegor hosted a magnificent feast with the builders, only to have them all killed when the feast ended in order to keep the palace's secrets safe. As such, the Imperial Palace would come to be known as the Red Keep (due to the blood that was spilled that fateful day). But his reign would forever be remembered for the incident that sparked a war between Great Britain and Britannia, as well as giving him the nickname Maegor the Cruel.
As Maegor was crowned emperor, the Imperial Family, which consisted of Lady Alyssa el Britannia and her children, Jaehaerys, Alysanne, and Viserys, feared for their lives and soon fled to Great Britain, where they were granted sanctuary by King Michael I. Maegor was furious, as he planned on holding Alyssa's children hostage as to secure her allegiance and her body. At first, he tried using diplomacy to retrieve them, sending envoys to London demanding the extradition of the Britannian Imperial Family, but Michael would not budge. The powder keg would be ignited on August 13, 1839, when assassins stormed the Royal Palace of Buckingham with guns blazing.
More to come...
Home Territory Edit
Britannia's modern home territory, formally known as the 'Imperial Homeland' or just the 'Homeland', consists of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska. These were acquired before the Imperial Area Act, yet, in reference to the British Isles as the original Homeland, are designated as Areas regardless. The territories in the Homeland are in turn divided along feudal lines, providing Britannia with a truly vast peerage. Despite that, Britannia does practice some elements of "modern" democracy, as local legislatures are elected in addition to their ruling nobility. This was instituted after the First Britannian Civil War (i.e. The Dance of the Dragons), to limit the power of the said nobility. The largest of these territories are the Duchies (also known as States), which are in turn divided downward into Marquessates, Margravates, Earldoms, Viscounties, and Baronies. The size, population, and economic importance can vary on each Duchy. For instance, the Grand Duchy of Westerland (British Columbia) includes the Earldom of Lannisport (Vancouver), and the Grand Duchy of Alaska includes the Earldom of Winterfell (Anchorage).
Interesting to note, certain Duchies, ones that have gained a significant importance to the Empire or whose Duke or Duchess have gained recognition from the Crown, hold the title of Grand Duchy. These Duchies enjoy a great deal of influence within the imperial government while their Grand Dukes/Duchesses hold the highest ranking amongst the nobility, being second only to members of the Imperial Family. As such, the title is the most difficult to obtain within Britannia's nobility system; similar to ascension to the Knights of the Round, only the Emperor or Empress can grant the title, and he/she only does so to the most worthy of subjects.
The Areas, formerly known as 'Colonies,' consist of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, the Phillippines, the Indochinese Penisula, the Caribbean, Central America, and Taiwan. Each Area is designated with a number, and its people are referred to by that number. They consist of nations conquered by Britannia, for the most part corresponding to their pre-conquest borders, though in some cases small states and other non-state entities are leashed together for bureaucratic convenience.
Areas 1-4 are what make up the Homeland, and so are only treated as Areas in name; they are only classified as Areas in recognition of their not being the "true" Homeland (which remain the British Isles), but de jure colonies. Area 9, the Queen Elizabeth Islands, lays off the northern coast of the Homeland and was originally part of Area 1 (Canada), having been divided into its own Area in recognition of its role as a penitentiary state for the Homeland's worst criminals; as such, it too is treated as an Area in name only. Any territory not apart of it is recognized as a "true" Area, a la colonial state, and governed accordingly.
(Non-Homeland) Areas are divided into three categories; Correctional, Developing, and Satellite. An Area gains greater autonomy as it proceeds through these categories, though it may be demoted to Correctional in the case of a serious setback. In Correctional and Developing Areas, the Viceroy acts as the Emperor's proxy, controlling the Area as all but an Absolute Monarch in his or her own right. The Areas also attract ill-feeling from other countries, especially the EUU, UNASUR, and the United States, which regard the Numbers as oppressed peoples and give refuge to escapees.
Major Cities and Settlements Edit
The Imperial Capital is the city of Pendragon (originally founded as Quebec City), which is located in the Grand Duchy of Quebec. The Red Keep (officially known as the Imperial Palace) is located at the center of the city, from which extends Saint Baelor Boulevard, to which the Palaces and Villas of the Imperial Consorts are connected. Pendragon is Britannia's political and administrative hub, as well as being the Capital in the symbolic sense, making control of it vital to the control of Britannia as a whole.
The Anthem of the Empire is called "All Hail Britannia", after the Britannic Salute.
- Truth and hope in our Fatherland!
- And death to every foe!
- Our soldiers shall not pause to rest
- We vow our loyalty
- Old traditions they will abide
- Arise young heroes!
- Our past inspires noble deeds
- All Hail Britannia!
- Immortal beacon shows the way
- Step forth and seek glory!
- Hoist your swords high into the clouds
- Hail Britannia!
- Our Emperor stands astride this world
- He’ll vanquish every foe!
- His truth and justice shine so bright
- All hail his brilliant light!
- Never will he be overthrown
- Like mountains and sea
- His bloodline immortal and pure
- All Hail Britannia!
- So let his wisdom guide our way
- Go forth and seek glory
- Hoist your swords high into the clouds
- Hail Britannia!
- Interesting to note, the unofficial Anthem of the Empire is called "The Rains of Castamere", serving as a reminder of what happens when one defies Britannia.
- And who are you, the proud lord said,
- that I must bow so low?
- Only a cat of a different coat,
- that's all the truth I know.
- In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
- a lion still has claws,
- And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
- as long and sharp as yours
- And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
- that Lord of Castamere,
- But now the rains weep o'er his hall,
- with no one there to hear.
- Yes now the rains weep o'er his hall,
- and not a soul to hear.
There are two flags that have been used throughout Britannia's history. The Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, consisting of the crosses of St. Patrick (Ireland), St. Andrew (Scotland) and St. George (England), was the official flag of the Holy Britannian Empire from 1810 to 1910. In 1910, Emperor Baelor "the Blessed" le Britannia I commissioned the St. Baelor's Cross as the new flag of Britannia as to symbolize Britannia's shared past with Great Britain. From 1910 onwards, this would be the official flag of the Holy Britannian Empire.