Holy Britannian Empire Edit
Anthem: All Hail Britannia!
Motto: Semper incedens ad posterum
(Marching Ever Onward To Tomorrow)
Absolute Monarchy (De Jure)
Head of State
Head of Government
House of Lords
House of Commons
100,000,000 Numbers (pre 2010)
The Holy Empire of Britannia is a superpower in Juubi-K's Code Geass fanfiction The Sum of Our Choices. This page is being updated to match the Reboot currently in planning. It also applies to the fanfiction One and Only Son.
The Empire's home territories, sometimes referred to as 'Britannia Proper' or 'the Homeland', consist of North and Central America, Hawaii, and Greenland, along with the entire Carribean region. All these territories were acquired before the introduction of the Area system. These territories are in turn divided along feudal lines, providing Britannia with a truly vast peerage. The largest of these are the Archduchies, though these are also known as States. As a result of their size and economic importance, they are governed by elected state legislatures in addition to their Archdukes and Archduchesses.
The Areas, otherwise known as the 'Colonies', consist of South America, New Zealand, Japan (August 2010 - January 2018 ATB), and portions of Africa. They consist of states 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. Any land of interest to Britannia is declared a 'Concession' and placed under direct Britannian control, usually for the purposes of Settlement construction. Concessions made directly to the person of the Emperor, or the Imperial Family, are called 'Providences.' Territory not ceded in this fashion is administered by collaborationist governing bodies, though they are answerable to the Imperial Viceroy or Vicereine.
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. This is considered necessary for efficient governance, but can also be a legal minefield, as shown in the case of Suzaku Kururugi (see Judiciary). The Areas also attract ill-feeling from other countries, especially the EU, which regards the Numbers as oppressed peoples.
Satellite areas are also known as Protectorates, a leftover of an early version of the area system developed by Emperor Lothar li Britannia. Protectorates either retain their former name or are granted a new one (rather than a number), and are governed by an elected council known as an Imperial Audience (a concept borrowed from the former Spanish Empire). The Philippine Islands were granted this status after their initial conquest, but after their subsequent conquest by Japan, and later reconquest by Britannia, they were subordinated into the Area system. The only formal Protectorate still in existence during Charles zi Britannia's rule is Hawaii.
Major Cities and SettlementsEdit
The Empire's Capital is located at the city of Pendragon. The Imperial Palace is located at the centre of the city, from which extends St Darwin Boulevard, to which the Palaces and Villas of the Imperial Consorts are connected. Pendragon is the Empire'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 mountains surrounding the city are riddled with underground bunkers manned by combat units of the Imperial Guard.
The original capital and current eastern hub of the empire is the city of Caerleon. This city was first planned by Richard le Bretan (the future Emperor Ricardo) as a central hub for the newly-pacified colonies, with the plans being approved in 1790. His design combined Roman magnificence with Arthurian romanticism, and was intended by Richard not merely as an impressive capital, but as a new Camelot; symbol of his own counter-revolutionary ideals. After the Edinburgh Disgrace of 1813, it became Elizabeth III's temporary capital, and the newly-founded Britannia's formal capital, with Ricardo's own palace at Caerbrennin becoming the Imperial palace. The city was largely destroyed during the Knightslayer War, and although rebuilt afterwards, it never regained its former preeminence. Caerbrennin Palace is still used by the Imperial family as their residence in the city, and the Imperial Military Academy is located there.
Ancient Britannia Edit
Britannia's history is a long and complicated one, taking it from the British Isles to the distant continent of North America. Much of the earliest period of this history is shrouded in myth and legend, some of it deliberately concocted to serve political or ideological purposes. Matters have been complicated futher by the splitting of the original culture into three broad successor cultures - that of Britannia, that of the British Isles, and that of the wider English-speaking world. Though a common ancestry is noticeable, the three have increasingly little else in common beyond a shared language and history.
Suffice to say, Britannia first enters the historical record in the fourth century BC, when it was known as Brettaniai to the Greeks; a corruption of the old Brythonic term Pretani. To the Romans it was Britannia, a mysterious island on the edge of the known world. The natives had adopted the La Tene culture by around 300 BC, making them part of the Celtic world; a vast pan-culture stretching over much of Europe and even into Anatolia. The Britons were highly developed, with sophisticated agriculture and metalworking. But like their cousins in Gaul and elsewhere, the Britons had no real sense of national or cultural unity, being loyal only to their tribes. It took an obvious threat like the Romans, and a charismatic individual like Vercingetorix or Boudicca, to get them to unite.
Rome's first real attempt to bring Britannia under its control came in 55 BC, when Julius Caesar landed with two legions somewhere on the south-eastern coast; possibly at the Isle of Thanet in Kent. Caesar fought off local resistance and established himself in Kent, communicating with nearby tribes and establishing diplomatic relations before returning to Gaul. He returned the next year, with a much larger force, and defeated the Brythonic warlord Cassivellaunus; who had overthrown the King of the tribe called the Trinovantes, and forced his son Mandubracius into exile. Caesar took the opportunity to restore Mandubracius to his rightful throne, effectively installing him as a Roman puppet.
It is around this time that history and myth square off for the first time. The Britannian Legend, as the mythic history promulgated by Emperor Ricardo is known, claims that a great leader arose among the Britons; a man named Eowyn or Alwyn, who defeated Caesar and drove the Romans from Britain once and for all. This account, though colourful, has no more inherent truth to it than the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth or Chretien du Troyes. 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 armoured swordsmen, known as the 'Chosen Swordsmen' or simply 'The Chosen.' Organised 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; coopting the willing and crushing the stubborn.
Though the kingdom Eudeyrn created would be gradually drawn into the Roman Empire via trade and settlement, it nevertheless lasted for a little over four hundred years. The most ferocious resistance to the Romano-British Kingdom came in AD 60, with the death of Prasutagus, client King of the Iceni tribe. The Romano-Britons moved in, dispossessing the Iceni nobility and taking their lands. The fightback was led by Boudicca, Prasutagus' widow, who managed to grow her tribal rising into a full-scale revolt. The location of the final battle is not known, except that it took place somewhere along Watling Street. Boudicca and her army were defeated, the survivors hunted down and killed or enslaved.
Angles, Saxons, and Vikings Edit
In the fifth century, the Romano-British kingdom was under constant attack. Picts from what is now Scotland, Irish Gaels, and a series of Germanic peoples launched regular seaborne raids along the coast. It is the latter group that is remembered most clearly, because it was the Germanic tribes - namely the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, more commonly known as the Anglo-Saxons - who actually established themselves in the country. The Britannian Legend has a foolish Romano-British King named Vortigern invite the Saxons to help him fight the Pictish and Irish raiders, only for the Saxons to revolt when he tried to avoid paying them. It further adds the mythical characters of Uther Pendragon, and his more famous son Arthur, as warlords and Kings who fought off the invaders and preserved Britannia for a time. In practice, Romano-Britain was gradually conquered by the Anglo-Saxons, with only distant and inaccessible areas like western Wales and the north remaining under the control of Romano-British dynasties.
The result was a blend of Anglo-Saxon and Romano-British cultures, with Romano-British scholars helping Anglo-Saxon kings to govern their lands, and Romano-British priests gradually converting them to Christianity. Over time, the Anglo-Saxons became the dominant culture in the British Isles, though they remained divided into seven petty kingdoms known as the Heptarchy. This nearly proved their undoing in the 9th century, when Scandinavian warriors began raiding the coasts of the British Isles. Known today as Vikings, these raiders took ruthless advantage both of Anglo-Saxon division and of a psychological inability to effectively respond. Anglo-Saxon kings and nobles attempted to use the Vikings against their enemies, or tried to buy them off with gifts of treasure; gestures guaranteed to bring more raids. Equally unhelpful in its own way was the influence of the Christian Church, which regarded the horrific raids as divine punishment that should not be resisted.
The tide began to turn in 871, with the enthroning of Alfred as King of Wessex. Alfred was an unlikely hero, a sickly intellectual with a reputation for piety. But in spite of everything, he managed not only to protect Wessex from Viking conquest, but even to expand his domain at their expense. By the time of his death in 899, he controlled most of southern England; while the Viking-controlled portion to the north and east was called the Danelaw. His son Edward the Elder conquered a part of the Danelaw, and his grandson Aethelstan completed the process by 927, reigning as King of the English. Such was his power, he was even able to invade and subject the young kingdom of Scotland to his overlordship; only for the resentful Scots to ally with the Vikings and invade his kingdom, leading to the epic battle of Brunanburh. Aethelstan's victory cemented the existence of England as a kingdom; though the same can be said of Scotland too.
But Scandinavia was not yet done with England. In 1002, a Danish and Norwegian army invaded England under the command of Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark and Norway. His invasion was ostensibly a retaliation against the massacre of Danes living in England by King Aethelred 'the Unready', but his true intent was almost certainly conquest. After ten years of raiding, he launched a full-scale invasion in 1013, forcing Aethelred to flee to Normandy, only to die amid his triumph in February of 1014. His army pledged itself to his son, Cnut, but the English nobles persuaded Aethelred to return, forcing Cnut to withdraw; abandoning those English who had supported him to brutal reprisals. Cnut tried again in 1015, taking advantage of a dispute between Aethelred and his eldest surviving son, Edmund Ironside. When Aethelred finally died in 1016, Edmund was named as King, and he led a desperate last-ditch defence against Cnut, only to be decisively defeated at the Battle of Assandum, and later killed. Cnut would rule his three kingdoms until 1035, being sometimes called Canute the Great.
After his death, his sons Harold and Harthacnut fought among themselves, until the throne of England was taken by Edward the Confessor, son of Aethelred the Unready by his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Edward ruled from 1042 to 1066, acquiring his cognomen for his piety, but also his apparent chastity. He is not known to have fathered any children, and even his Queen Edith of Wessex had no children by him. This was in part revenge, for the marriage was forced upon him by her father, the Earl Godwin of Wessex, a former subordinate of Canute and the power behind the throne. Edward hated Godwin, blaming him for the blinding and death of his older brother Alfred; a crime Godwin always denied. In 1051 he took advantage of a riot in Dover to expel Godwin and his sons from England; only to return a year later with a large army. Abandoned by his supporters, Edward was forced to restore Godwin and his sons to their previous positions. He later found the time to intervene in Scottish politicians, helping the exiled Scottish Prince Malcolm Canmore to defeat the usurper Macbeth and retake his throne; a conflict dramatized centuries later by William Shakespeare.
After his death in 1066, the throne was claimed by the second most powerful man in England; Harold Godwinson, Godwin's eldest surviving son. In doing so he enraged William, Duke of Normandy, who regarded the throne as rightfully his. William famously invaded England in that same year, while Harold was occupied fighting off an invasion of northern England led by Harald Hardrada, King of Norway. This invasion culminated in the Battle of Hastings, in which Harold was killed and his army destroyed. William took the throne, and spent the rest of his life bending England to his will. He would be remembered as William the Conqueror.
Normans and Plantagenets. Edit
The House of Normandy was a relatively short-lived dynasty; only ruling England until 1154. But there can be little doubt that it changed the country forever. The enforcement of Norman-style feudalism led to a more formal class structure, with social mobility becoming even more difficult if not impossible. Anglo-Saxon nobles were, with some exceptions, replaced with Norman knights. These new nobles no longer owned the land, but merely held it from the King in return for military service. The bulk of the population were peasant farmers, either free or Villeins bound to their land, living in small self-sufficient villages; a system that first appeared under the Anglo-Saxons, but became dominant under the Normans.
The Catholic Church also played an important role in Norman English society. Though already Christian, the Norman Kings decisively subordinated the Church to the will of Rome; though the requisite changes in liturgy and practices were relatively minor. Many new monasteries were established, and existing ones grew in wealth an standing; indeed, the monasteries and the wider Church were among the few institutions where Normans and Anglo-Saxons could meet on equal terms.
William the Conqueror 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 afterwards 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, 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 Charles de Bretan. His precise origins are unclear, but his was one of many noble families who claimed some connection to ancient Britannia. Like many of the northern nobles he was a Catholic, and he professed undying devotion to Mary. But he was also ambitious, and when Mary commanded in 1558 that he marry her Protestant sister Elizabeth, Charles 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 Charles 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 were Kings in ancient time, and would fain be Kings again.The marriage went ahead, and Charles sought to strengthen his position by getting Elizabeth pregnant. 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 of 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. Charles was permitted only once to see the child, and would have no part in his upbringing. Slighted and humiliated, Charles sought to avenge himself and gain the power he felt was his right by other means. But he found little support among his fellow Catholic nobles, many of whom felt they could do his job much better themselves. Thomas Howard, Earl of Norfolk, is said to have mockingly dubbed him the 'Duke of Britannia', referring both to his boasted heritage and to the Ducal title he had received upon marrying Elizabeth. But the real contender for his place was Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's childhood friend and confidante, whom she favoured with titles and postings in the Royal household. When Elizabeth created him Earl of Leicester in August 1564, as part of Prince Henry's birthday celebrations, Charles could take no more. He staged an uprising in April of 1565, using forged Commissions of Array to illegally raise troops; only for the rising to fizzle when Thomas Howard, then Lord Lieutenant of the North, ordered the soldiers to stand down. Charles was killed while attempting to cross the Scottish border. Despite his treason, Elizabeth showed mercy to his family by not attainting any of them.
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 responsibility for overseeing the settling and maintenance of overseas colonies, a cause he pursued with great enthusiasm.
The Golden AgeEdit
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 travelling 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 CommonwealthEdit
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 centre 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 could 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 ideals, 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 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.
War without an EnemyEdit
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 favured the King.
1643 saw a gradual shift in 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 reestablishing 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 Britannian 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 monarchy and were willing to fight and die for it, giving them an advantage over the disunited Parlimentarian 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 valour of the Royalist cavalry with iron discipline and religious fervour, 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 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 one 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 per cent 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.
Rule 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 afterwards. King Charles and his family were forced to flee abroad.
As Cromwell mopped up in Scotland, and turned his attentions 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 and Britannian 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, was a mysterious figure known as John Dash. Like many such figures, such as Robin Hood or Ned Ludd, he may have been nothing but a legend. But at the time he was 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, lashing out in paranoid rage. Even Conclave members, those moderates regarded as dangerous backsliders by the hardliners, were not safe.
John Dash's identity, assuming he even existed, remains a mystery. As for his motives, many different stories circulated. Of these, the most popular was that he was an orphan boy, taken in by a noble family who were secret Royalists. A visiting Bishop tricked or terrorized young John Dash into telling all he knew, leading the Bishop to burn the family's house and massacre all inside. Only John Dash and the lord's daughter escaped, only for her to die in the snow. The story is fanciful, but not entirely incredible. Several such 'police actions' took place at that time, as Bishops lashed out at noble families judged politically unreliable. This had the effect of radicalizing the nobility, and driving them to rebellion.
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 were holed up in the Netherlands, the centre 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 George Monck, commander of the Conclave's Army of Scotland. Originally a Royalist, and later a friend of Cromwell, Monck 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, Monck 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. 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 John Dash will have his 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 Monck that the Committee was exchanging one tyranny for another; a tyranny no more acceptable to the public than that of the Conclave. His response was to lead his army south, crossing the River Tweed at Coldstream on 2 January 1660. The early part of his march took him through Berwick, Newcastle, and York; whose garrisons he added to his army. Lambert tried to gather his garrisons and mobile units into a usable field army, but had insufficient funds with which to pay them. Monck, apparently aware of this, continued his advance while carefully avoiding Lambert's forces; denying him the pitched battle he desperately needed. On 3 February, Monck's army entered London; Lambert's forces melting away ahead of him. Once in control of the city, he 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 were formally crowned as King and Queen of England and Scotland, their reigns backdated to the deaths of their respective fathers.
The 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. 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.
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 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. Friendship between the British Isles and France was, for all the Royal goodwill, politically impossible.
Charles finally died in 1685, possibly of uraemia; 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'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 Robert Clive trounced the Nawab's much larger army; a feat greatly assisted by 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 a substantial portion 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 in Britannia mostly for the acquisition of Quebec, and the victory and martyrdom of General James Wolfe at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
When James died in 1766, he was succeeded by his son Charles Edward, who ruled as Charles III. In sharp contrast to his father, who had grown dour in his later years, Charles 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.
Washington's Rebellion Edit
But 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 ideals. 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 Charles 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 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.
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 harbur in a protest against government taxation policies. The authorities reacted by closing the harbor until the tea was paid for, and by expanding the powers of Royal governors. Outraged colonists responded by forming a Continental Congress in September of 1774, to form a united front against Royal tyranny. Charles responded in turn by dispatching troops to the colonies.
What would come to be known as Washington's Rebellion, named for the single most famous rebel commander, began as a series of police actions, as 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.
Charles' 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 of 1776, Howe managed to defeat Washington at Long Island and then capture New York itself. This might have been the end for 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 the Lord Charles Cornwallis, 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. The ultimate architect of British victory was the man who, by actions overt and covert, managed to overcome this equation.
Ricardo the Red Edit
This man was named Ricardo le Bretan. Born in 1752 to a British father and Spanish mother, he travelled with his family to the colonies in 1758. Joining a light infantry regiment as a 'gentleman cadet' at the age of thirteen - the youngest age permissable - 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 1771 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 Richard Hector, 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, Ricardo 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. Some may even have succeeded in following Benjamin Franklin on his ill-fated mission to France; and they are popularly theorized to have stirred up the simmering conflict between George Washington and his rival, Charles Lee.
Ricardo's 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 to victory at King's Mountain. His ruthless violence along the frontier earned him the nickname Ricardo the Red; in sharp contrast to the good-natured Ferguson.
Flushed with success, Ricardo began a new campaign in the spring of 1781. With the British forces suffering heavy casualties, French intervention on the horizon, and loyalists unwilling to serve in sufficient numbers, RIcardo'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 Ricardo 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. Ricardo 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. Not merely was he providing a regular stream of fresh recruits, but his attacks also caused division in the rebel ranks. When local militias failed to halt the raids, Washington came under increasing pressure to act against Ricardo; but he dared not do so without splitting his army and making it even more vulnerable. Frustrated, many southern troops and even whole units began deserting Washington's army, heading home to protect their homes and families.
Seeing an opportunity, Cornwallis led his army 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, Cornwallis recieved orders from General Sir Henry Clinton to establish a coastal strongpoint at which large warships could safely land. This left him vulnerable, and Washington launched a desperate plan of his own; to catch Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown, between his own Franco-American army and a French fleet under Admiral de Grasse.
The plan might well have worked, but for unfortunate timing and the efforts of a British fleet under the command of Admiral Thomas Graves. Encountering de Grasse's fleet off the mouth of the Chesapeake, Graves's subordinate - Sir Samuel Hood - took the initiative and led the vanguard straight at the French ships while they lay at anchor; an irritated Graves following on behind. Caught flat-footed, de Grasse's fleet was devastated, and Washington's army marched on Yorktown to find a resupplied British army waiting for him. Seeing no alternative, Washington launched a desperate attack, only to lose his life in the battle that followed. Washington's death tore the heart out of the rebellion, and with de Grasse's French fleet destroyed and an obstinate King Charles pouring more and more troops into North America despite Parliament's complaints, British victory was only a matter of time.
Washington's Rebellion was largely over by 1783, but it would cast a long shadow. Resentful colonists and would-be revolutionaries cast about for someone to blame for the tragedy; and much of the opprobrium fell on the unfortunate shoulders of Benjamin Franklin. It had been his mission to win French support for the rebellion, and in this he had seemingly failed miserably. Rumours spread that he had been bought or blackmailed by loyalists into betraying the rebellion, and although no solid evidence has emerged for any betrayal on his part, the label tragically stuck. Though he was granted the title of Earl by a sympathetic King Charles, and attained a degree of rehabilitation as a gentleman scientist - and the inventor of the Franklin Battery - the name of Benjamin Franklin would, for generations of revolutionaries and patriots, be synonymous with treachery.
For Ricardo le Bretan, the rewards would come thick and fast. News of his exciting exploits had made him something of a 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 alter the course of history.
A Place of Greater SafetyEdit
The failure of the American Revolution divided Britons more deeply than was immediately apparent. To most of the aristocracy, the victory was proof of the superiority of Britain's social structure and way of life, as well of their ultimate fitness to enjoy preeminance in that system. By the same token, they same little reason to change any particular part of it; an attitude that would have serious consequnces later. By contrast, many in the educated middle classes - notably the merchant and artisan classes - were dismayed by the rebellion's defeat. For those hoping for reform - and for a system in which the mercantile classes would enjoy political power commeasurate with their wealth and economic importance - the failure of the rebellion, and the social and political complacency it induced, was a cutting blow.
As in France, the rebellion and the wider war it provoked represented an enormous financial liability for 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 favoured 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 neighbours, 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 Charles; 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 defecit 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 crushing it, brought the matter to a head. Ageing, unwell, and possibly senile, Charles failed to react effectively to the situation. Real power increasingly lay with his eldest daughter, the 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 protege and friend - some said lover - Ricardo le Bretan. 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, Charles' younger brother Henry; who took the throne as Henry X. No official reason was given, though it was widely rumoured that a desire to keep 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, Henry 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 occuring in some areas, Henry's government was left with only one serious option; a short, victorious war. And in February of 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 organised 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.
The Windsor Coup 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, rumours 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 oficers 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 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, Henry's councillors 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 saviour was none other than Elizabeth, whose hand was finally forced. With the help of supporters on the inside, Elizabeth and a group of followers - Ricardo and Sir Richard Hector among them - 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. 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. 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 rumours spread that Nelson had been betrayed. The rumours 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 judgement 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 defence 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 sieze their estates and enforce martial law. So great was their distrust of Elizabeth that a great many refused to cooperate, even pulling milita or regular army units off the line to protect their estates, or to form local self-defence leagues. These leagues quickly fell prey to Napoleon's troops, and within a week of the first landings, London itself was threatened.
The Edinburgh DisgraceEdit
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 organise the raising of fresh troops. As word of the failed self-defence leages 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.
Realising 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 Sir Arthur Wellesley - a young but talented general of Irish noble stock - 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 organising troops and supplies. Meanwhile, having learnt that Napoleon was less than impressed with his cautious strategy, Grouchy turned his attentions 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 defences were much more formidable. After a two week siege, including repeated naval attacks, and despite a heroic defence, Portsmouth fell on July 28th.
Napoleon himself arrived in London on August 10, recieving 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 Sir Arthur Wellesley, Lord Lewis de Bourgh, and Sir David Baird to withdraw. With British Volunteer units slowing Napoleon's advance with guerilla 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 militia. Despite a desperate defence, 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, Wellesley had guessed Napoleon's intentions, and rushed his army north to Gainsborough, pleading with De Bourgh and Baird to support him. Baird insisted on holding his position at Nottingham - where he was successfully holding the French at bay - and De Bourgh was too slow to react. All Wellesley could do was delay Napoleon's vanguard at Gainsborough, before superior numbers forced him 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. Wellesley 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 De Bourgh, 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, de Bourgh and his allies were determined to strike back at Napoleon, and succeeding in forcing Wellesley 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 Ricardo's support, 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 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 favouring the French and revolution, others violently opposing them, while yet more were interested only in self-defence. 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. Ricardo and his Round Table Knights were still at large, and they were quick to respond. Two weeks after the abdication, Ricardo personally led a mission to Edinburgh; stealing into the castle and snatching Elizabeth and several of her fellow prisoners. By the time anyone realised what had happened, Elizabeth and her rescuers were safely out of the city, and on their way to Dunbar. There, they boarded the warship HMS Aeneas - an irony that was doubtless not lost on their small party - and sailed north, rejoining what remained of the Royal Navy on the way. Convinced that Britain was lost, Ricardo persuaded Elizabeth to escape with him to North America. Neither of them would ever see the British Isles again.
New Empire for Old Edit
If the old Britain's story had come to an end, the new Britannia's story was just beginning. From her new capital at Caerleon - built by Ricardo as a hub for colonial administration - Elizabeth worked to bring North America into line, though many problems were rapidly becoming apparent. Though she had around 50,000 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 1813 were embittered emigrants bringing their property with them. Ricardo swiftly established himself as Elizabeth's Chancellor and right-hand man, drawing on local connections and his own resources to establish a functioning government. Indeed, Elizabeth's palace at Caerbrennin was Ricardo's own residence, built there at great expense during his sojourn there in the 1780s. The new government was, needless to say, packed with Ricardo's own partisans; a mixture of British nobles and local dignitaries he had established relationships with over the years.
On October 18th, 1813, Queen Elizabeth III breathed her last, surrounded by her most senior courtiers. To the shock of her blood relatives present, she named Ricardo as her successor. Ricardo responded with an extraordinary declaration; distributed all over British North America. He declared that the old kingdom was dead and gone, burned to ash in the fires of war and revolution. It's failure, he added, was due to having abandoned the ancient customs of old Britannia in favour of new-fangled modernity, which could only end in the kind of blood-drenched ideological madness that had tormented France for so many years. The only way forward was to return to the ways of honour and chivalry, to create an ordered society in which every man knew his place and was content in it. His new society would be a holy empire, based on divinely-ordained authority answerable to none but God. He was Emperor Ricardo, and this new continent would be known forevermore as the Holy Empire of Britannia.
This did not go without resistance, especially among those of Elizabeth's blood relatives who had accompanied her to North America. But Ricardo was ready for them, being in firm control of the nascent Imperial Guard, and having built a solid support base among the colonial elite - at least in the nothern colonies - and the new arrivals. After a failed coup attempt, Ricardo executed two of Elizabeth's remaining siblings - her younger brother William and her younger sister Mary - and exiled her youngest sister Louise; leaving no one of the house of Tudor-Stuart to oppose him. Though he was widely resented in the south due to his behaviour in the American Revolution, no one else seemed inclined to resist.
Once firmly in power, Ricardo began to enforce policies of his own; policies that would remake colonial society in an image more to his liking. Aristocrats were given direct control over portions of territory appropriate to their rank; in effect recreating feudalism in a society where it had never existed. The colonies themselves were reorganised into a series of territorial duchies, which in turn were subdivided into counties and baronies; governed by Dukes, Earls, and Barons respectively. The title of Marquess was granted to the governors of border counties specifically, while the title of Viscount applied to the subordinates of Earls and Marquesses, as well as their heirs. All territorial nobles had the right to make knights, and many did so liberally. The status of commoners changed very little in practice.
Expansion was also on the cards, the target being French Louisiana. With its small population, and Napoleon in no position to respond, Ricardo had little difficulty in overrunning the territory and incorporating it into his new empire. He also took the opportunity to grab the French colony of Guiana - a combination of the former French, British, and Dutch colonies of that area - as well as a series of French-controlled Caribbean islands, many of which had previously been British colonies.
With the assassination of Napoleon in 1814 - many believe on Ricardo's orders - the Napoleonic wars had come to an end, and the European powers gathered in Vienna to decide on a new order. Despite his isolationist leanings, the autocratic monarchies were neverless Ricardo's natural allies, and it served his interests to seek their recognition. Nevertheless he ran into problems almost immediately. The monarchs whose approval he sought regarded him as an upstart, and eventually decided in favour of Michael; Elizabeth's youngest brother, and Napoleon's former puppet King. To add insult to injury, they also voted to condemn the Slave Trade and act for its suppression. Ricardo personally disliked the instution of slavery - if only because it did not fit his Arthurian vision - but the economic consquences for his young empire would be severe.
Snubbed, Ricardo retaliated in the only way open to him; by declaring war. Stirring up anti-Spanish feeling to win public support, Ricardo unleashed his now battle-hardened forces upon the remaining Spanish colonies of Florida, Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Puerto Rico. He was assisted by Henri Christophe, the self-styled King of Haiti; an effective but unpopular ruler, notorious for using forced labour on his various construction projects. In return the title of Duke of Hispaniola, Christophe pledged allegience to the Britannian crown; overrunning neighbouring Santo Domingo with the help of Britannian marines. With its army and navy still in a shambles, and an economy still weak after years of war and French occupation, Spain was in no position to react.
A Tale of Two Rebels Edit
To a casual observer in 1815, Britannia must have seemed invincible. But the veneer of imperial glory, and the lustre of Arthurian romanticism, hid resentments both old and new. The spirit and dream of the American revolution had never entirely gone away; and all although some were attracted by the idea of an independent North America that Britannia was on the way to becoming, many others were repelled by Ricardo's regime. But these ideological, idealistic opponents of the empire were vastly outnumbered by those who hated it for deeper, more direct reasons.
The heartland of rebellion was in the old south, now the Duchies of Maryland, Virginia, Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, and Tennessee. During Washington's Rebellion, Ricardo had wrought havoc upon the southern colonies; burning plantations, recruiting slaves as soldiers, and letting the rest loose. Many freed slaves had simply tried to escape, heading south into Florida or north into more sympathetic regions. But others had taken up arms and run riot, seeking revenge on their former oppressors. To southern whites, these distinctions were meaningless, for their worst nightmare was made manifest. The revolts were suppressed, but left a bitter legacy in the south.
This was made all the worse by subsequent events. The lost slaves - whether killed or fled - had to be replaced at considerable expense. Between the suppression of the slave trade by the Congress of Vienna, and Britannia's diplomatic isolation cutting off the trade in slave-farmed cash crops, the slave-supported plantation economy became less and less viable. Ricardo's response was to encourage planters to grow food crops instead, and to convert their slaves into serfs. Each new serf was granted a parcel of land - and freedom from legal restrictions applicable to slaves - in return for the acceptance of feudal duties; notably working on his landlord's estate for several days of each week. While many landords liked this system, poorer men feared being enserfed in turn; as many were, usually to escape from debt or poverty.
The man who would eventually light the powder keg was Andrew Jackson. As a boy of thirteen, he had taken part in the American Revolution, losing his mother and older brother in the process. An orphan at fourteen, Jackson would nurse a deep hatred of the British for the rest of his life, but had no obvious outlet for it. Moving to the Tennessee Colony in the hope of a fresh start, he prospered first as a frontier lawyer, then as a merchant and planter. So successful and respectable had he become, that he was even able to attain rank in the colonial militia, reaching the rank of Major General before retiring from active service. At some point, probably around 1808, he became involved with a group calling itself the Sons of Liberty.
The revolutionaries of Ricardo's early reign were very different from their counterparts of a half-century earlier. Drawing upon experiences of Washington's defeat, and the failure of the 1797 Irish uprising, the Sons had developed a new approach. Their methods were distinctly modern, with secret cadres operating in urban areas, communicating via couriers and drops; a war of subversion, secret messages, daggers in the dark, and bombs. In addition to their urban cadres, rural cadres formed companies of riflemen; hidden away in isolated areas where arms and supplies could be safely stockpiled, and new recruits trained, without the authorities noticing. Jackson was by all accounts impressed by the Sons, but thought their focus on irregular warfare naive. Conventional troops would be needed, and he knew how to get them.
If RIcardo noticed what was happening, he made little show of it. If anything he was distracted by problems closer to home, notably his family. With his beloved Elizabeth and his first wife Joanna Benbridge both dead, he married no less than six consorts in the first year of his reign, with each one bearing him a child; Alexander la Britannia, Annabelle li Britannia, Victor el Britannia, Louis vi Britannia, Catherine de Britannia, and Jessica zi Britannia. Ricardo ruffled feathers by formally marrying each of his consorts, declaring this state of affairs legal by Imperial fiat; and naming his children under a system of his own devising.
But he also had an adult son, Henry, by his first wife. Relations between father and son were strained at the best of times; a situation made all the worse by Ricardo's increasingly autocratic behaviour, his multiple marriages, and his repeated threats to remove Henry from the succession in favour of one of his new children. Henry endured his father's behaviour in sullen silence, though he was not without friends and supporters of his own. Chief among these were Major-General Patrick Ferguson, who had followed Ricardo out of gratitude but never liked the man, as well as Sir Richard Hector, and Sir Jonas Landstrom, Fourth Knight of the Round Table; though closest of all was his childhood friend Theresa Hamilton. He also fell under the influence of the maverick lawyer Samuel Houston, who sought to enlist his support in protecting the rights of the Cherokee people.
The Sons Rise Edit
Matters came to a head in 1820, when the Republic of Gran Colombia - led by the nigh-legendary Simon Bolivar - invaded Britannian Guyana. But before Ricardo could respond, the Sons of Liberty - evidently in cooperation with the Colombians - began their own uprising. Militia and even some regular battalions, their officers and men suborned by revolutionary agents, abandoned their barracks and headed for pre-arranged rally points. Committed rebels, secretly trained in hidden camps, fled their homes and workplaces and rushed to take up arms. Rifle companies raided depots and captured bridges, and urban cadres planted bombs and carried out assassinations. Nobles, Imperial officials, and prominent loyalists of any sort were targetted. Within a few days, the south was in flames.
Ricardo's reaction to the flood of reports was not what it might have been. At first, he concluded that Henry was behind the uprisings, and ordered his son arrested and brought before him in chains. But Henry denied the accusations, and several courtiers took his side. Enraged, Ricardo physically attacked him, and the throne room degenerated into a brawl. It took the intervention of Sir Richard Hector and the Round Table knights to restore order. It took much cajoling by them to convince Ricardo that Henry was blameless, and that the Sons of Liberty - whom he had previously dismissed as a pack of 'futile students' - was the true threat. But Ricardo's pride was wounded, and he could not entirely trust Henry. As he prepared to march south, he gave Henry command of an infantry brigade; seemingly a conciliatory gesture, but the officers had orders to kill him if he attempted treachery or cowardice.
Based on reports from the Ministry of Police - whose employees included many spies - Sir RIchard Hector ascertained the situation. The rebellion had control of much of the south; with the exception of several large towns - whose militia garrisons had remained loyal - and some rural areas where local landowners and knights had managed to hold out. Some uprisings had broken out in the north as well, but not on the same scale, and local militias were having an easier time controlling them. With most of the regular army spread out across the former Louisiana territory, all he had to work with was the Imperial Guard, some army depot battalions, loyal militia, and improvised companies of knights. Sir Richard ordered the regular forces to return, and began gathering available troops into a single army at Caerleon. He also organised most of the 'free knights' into a contingent under the command of Sir Jonas Landstrom, and sent them out as a vanguard.
Sir Jonas won his first battle honour at Fredericksburg, when his knights swam the river to bypass the rebels guarding the Scotts Island bridge. Several more would follow, as he managed to isolate and destroy several small rebel contingents. Thanks to his efforts, Ricardo was able to march south rapidly, defeating a rebel army near Richmond and relieving the besieged garrison. Ricardo continued in this manner for a time, securing the towns of eastern Virginia and securing them against further rebel attacks. Meanwhile, multiple 'flying columns' of knights and dragoons were unleashed to put pressure on dispersed rebel formations, and rescue loyalist holdouts.
But Jackson was on the march, leading his main army from eastern Tennessee. By the time it reached Ashewville in Carolina, picking up rebel contingents on the way, it numbered around 18,000. His original intent was to take the town of Charlotte, and destroy the Imperial forces suppressing his allies. But upon learning of the locations of the two main Imperial armies, he realised that Caerleon was wide open. On top of this, he recieved a report that Ricardo had returned to the capital for some reason. Seeing a chance he could not miss, Jackson headed north then north east, marching up the Great Trail towards Caerleon. But Ricardo was still with his army in eastern Virginia. Hearing of Jackson's move, and fearing the loss of his capital - not to mention his treasury - Ricardo rushed north to Petersburg, and then west towards Lynchburg.
Baptism of Fire Edit
But Jackson had already reached Lynchburg, and faced a tough choice. If he continued up the Great Trail towards Lexington, he would have a clear run at Winchester, and then Caerleon. But he had since learned that Ricardo was still with his 15,000- strong army, the one approaching him from the east. Jackson made the fateful choice, and swung east, catching the Imperial army at Lynchburg. Whether out of pride, or believing that he could not escape, Ricardo chose to fight. Positioning his troops across the hills to the south and east of Lynchburg, and sending riders to bring reinforcements, he prepared to recieve the rebel attack.
Jackson made his first attack in the Ordre Mixte; with his better troops advancing in line, and lesser troops in shock columns. Again following Napoleonic doctrine, he combined a frontal attack with a thrust at the Imperial left flank, nearest to their line of communication. The frontal attack was bloodily repulsed, but the Imperial left flank wavered and show signs of breaking. As Jackson readied more troops, Ricardo ordered Henry's brigade to plug the gap; boasting that his errant son would prove a coward and beg to be relieved. But Henry did no such thing, calmly leading his brigade into position as rebel troops manouvred to attack; resigned, some said, to his fate. As the brigade readied itself, Henry called out to his men thusly;
Soldiers, I will not insult you with the pretence of familiarity! I am Henry, once the son of a mighty lord, now Crown Prince of Britannia, and on this day your general! We are sent here to hold the flank, to turn back the rebels, or give our lives trying! Stay with me if you will, flee if you must! But never look to see Henry le Bretan flee! All you will see is me, still here, dead or alive, but here!It is at this point that one of the strangest events in Britannian history took place. It is said that Ricardo did not realise what his son was doing until he heard the bands playing, and saw a groom leading Henry's horse to the rear. By the latter time, the rebel attack was almost certainly underway. According to an account by Sir Martin Holbach, Sixth Knight of the Round Table, Ricardo;
...flew into both panic and rage, the one replacing the other. One moment he seemed in terror for his son, the next in fury. He roared and raged at us all, calling us traitors and liars, saying he had never given any such order, never never never. Then all at once he clutched at his chest, gave a great groan, and fell down.With the Emperor incapacitated, Sir Richard Hector took command of the army, and ordered Henry's position reinforced. All the while Henry's brigade endured repeated attacks; first by rebel militia, then by the Overmountain Brigade; frontiersmen descended from Scottish border reivers, renowned as cunning and aggressive fighters, and hateful of Ricardo, who had ravaged their lands during Washington's Rebellion. The Overmountain Brigade repeatedly attacked Henry's position, their pride not letting them withdraw despite heavy losses.
When Imperial reinforcements finally arrived, Henry's brigade had lost half its number. But Jackson had his own problems, as Imperial cavalry was sited advancing upon him from the south. It was Sir Jonas Landstrom, marching to the sound of the guns. Out of time, Jackson chanced everything on one last, all-out attack. The assault pressed the Imperial line to the limit, coming within an ace of succeeding. But the lines held firm, and as the rebels began to falter and fall back, Jackson himself was struck by a cannonball, dying within minutes. Robbed of the general they had so revered, and with Landstrom's cavalry approaching fast, the rebel army collapsed.
More to come
The Mexican War Edit
Though the conflict has been widely seen as inevitable, what ultimately started the countdown was Henry's policies towards the Indians. Almost certainly influenced by his friendship with Samuel Houston, Henry sought to improve conditions for the Indians. By this point, the Indians remaining in Britannian territory were the so-called Five Civlized Tribes; the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole. Of the five tribes, the Cherokee were regarded with the greatest interest by Britannians. In the years since the establishment of the Empire, they had created their own written language and established what amounted to their own state in the territory of Georgia, with its own police force, newspapers, and legislature.
The worryingly republican character of the Cherokee government fuelled Britannian paranoia, and was a convenient excuse for land-hungry Georgians to oppress and mistreat them. The discovery of gold in 1829 only made matters worse. Attempts early in his reign to calm tensions and protect the Indians were largely inneffective, forcing Henry to consider a more radical solution. If his white subjects wanted the Indians expelled, then he would expel them; on his terms. In 1826, he issued what would come to be known as the Indian Relocation Decree; under which the five tribes would be relocated to a new territory along the Arkansas River. Under this decree, the Indians were required to sell their land to Imperial agents at market price, and were permitted to carry their property away with them.
The transfer of the Indians took several years, and did not always go smoothly. In some areas, white mobs attacked Indian communities, and even the Imperial agents sent to oversee the property sales. Such violence was met with armed force, as the local nobles unleashed their household guards upon the troublemakers, backed by Imperial troops. Nevertheless the transfers went ahead, with tens of thousands of Indians travelling west over eight years. The land in which they found themselves was vast and fertile, and it did not take the Indians long to establish themselves and prosper. The Cherokees soon rose to prominence in Arkansas, led by their Principal Chief, John Ross. Though of mixed Cherokee and Scottish ancestry, he was regarded as the acceptable face of the Indians by Britannians, and even full-blooded Cherokee looked to him for protection. Henry showed his approval by making Ross a Marquess, and naming him as governor of the Arkansas territory in 1830.
But if the establishment of the Arkansas territory was a success for Britannia, it was a red rag to the Mexicans; for it occupied the gap between their respective territories north of Louisiana. Indeed, it was assumed by many on both sides - including the Indians themselves - that the territory's purpose was to secure the unclaimed land for Britannia. Among Britannians, the territory became known as the 'Arkansas Marches' for that very reason. Its existence contributed significantly to an ongoing breakdown of relations between Britannia and Mexico, further complicated by the presence of Britannian settlers in the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. The first of them had arrived during Emperor Agustin's brief reign, and had become Mexican citizens.
But the Republic's increasing hostility, not to mention its increasing centralisation of power, left them vulnerable. Precisely what passed between Henry's agents and the 'Texian' colonists is for the most part a mystery. However, it is apparent that he made contact with prominent empresario Stephen F. Austin at some point between 1828 and 1832, almost certainly using Samuel Houston as a go-between. His purpose in doing so, it is hard to doubt, was to organise a revolt against the Mexican government. Perhaps suspecting this, Mexican authorities arrested Austin in January of 1834. Henry responded by issuing a formal ultimatum, demanding his release and an end to the 'oppression' of the Texians. President Valentín Gómez Farías refused, and what history would come to know as the Mexican War began in March.
Faced with extreme war fever and suspicion of Mexico at home, Henry's intent was nothing less than the conquest of Mexico; and his strategy reflected this. A small force was sent east under Sir Jonas Landstrom with a view to securing Alta California. Another, larger army invaded Neuvo Mexico, under the command of General Sir Winfield Scott, accompanied by John Ross and four of the Indian regiments. This force had a double purpose; both to secure territory for the Empire and to win over the local Indian populations, whose relationship with the Mexican authorities was stormy at best, outright hostile at worst. Scott was himself a relative newcomer, regarded with suspicion in some quarters because of his North American birth and for not being one of 'Ricardo's own'; the clique of nobles and officers who had been close to Emperor Ricardo from the beginning. But Henry was far more open-minded, and Scott's skill as both general and diplomat would amply justify his trust. The third army was led by Henry himself, moving south-west along the coast towards Matamoros. After defeating a Mexican army at Palo Alto on May 8th, he captured Matamoros a week later. With this port secured as a supply base, Henry pushed inland, taking Monterrey after a costly battle taking three days. With disease further weakening his forces, Henry paused at Monterrey, allowing Mexican forces to withdraw south.
This string of defeats made an already unstable Mexican political situation even worse. President Farias was finally overthrown in June, replaced by General Antonio López de Santa Anna, the man whose proxy he had initially been. Santa Anna had won fame fighting against the Spanish, and in the various minor civil wars that had plagued Mexico for much of its independent period; his survival and success earning him a reputation as a smooth political operator. With his stalking horse Farias gone, Santa Anna assumed full authority, turning Mexico into a military dictatorship. Hoping to catch Henry napping, he led an army of twenty thousand north in late July, via the mountain roads towards the town of Saltillo.
But Henry was already moving, and would meet Santa Anna to the south of Saltillo, near the village of Buena Vista. Despite being weakened by desertion, the Mexican army won a costly victory, forcing Henry to withdraw to Monterrey. But news of an uprising in Mexico City forced an enraged Santa Anna to withdraw south, giving Henry time to summon reinforcements. In February of 1834, taking advantage of Scott's capture of Zacatecas, he advanced south and took Cuidad Victoria, then headed south west to capture San Luis Potosi, meeting Scott there in early April. Weary of what was proving a costly war, Henry immediately pushed south towards Mexico City, which he captured after a heroic defence in May of 1834. Armed resistance would drag on for several years, but for all intents and purposes the Mexican War was over.
Splendid Isolation Edit
Victory in the Mexican War left Britannia as the nigh-undisputed master of North America. The only foreign enclave in that area was Russian-controlled Alaska - so far from the Britannian heartland as to be barely worthy of notice - and the only other land route was via Panama to the south. Though southern Mexico would remain restive for some time, Britannia would continue to stabilize and prosper for many years. Restive Indian populations were controlled to some extent through the establishment of two new territories; Comancheria and Apacheria; intended in part to act as a buffer zone against potential Mexican revolt. Henry sought to bring the various Indian tribes into the fold via an early version of the Honourary Britannian system, which came down in practice to carrot-and-stick.Indian leaders who cooperated with rewarded with noble titles, and their nations with title deeds to their land. Those who did not found themselves at a disadvantage in any conflict with loyalist nations and tribes; both in the courtroom and on the battlefield
This fed into a deep-rooted resentment and suspicion felt by many Indians, who saw it as a system of divide-and-rule; but it had the effect of bringing the Indian territories more firmly under Imperial control. Disagreements and outright conflict between traditionalist and modernising Indians fed into a wider social and political controversy over the direction in which Britannia was destined to take. Should it modernise along European lines, or should it hold fast to traditional ways of life? Ironically, among the most vocal protectors of Indian traditionalists in the corridors of Imperial power were the Ricardian nobles, who saw the protection of traditional ways of life as vital to the maintenance of social order.
During his reign, Henry had done his utmost to manage the changes taking place in Britannian society, and to ensure the Empire's long-term stability. The most significant change was a veritable population explosion, fuelled by a seemingly neverending supply of cheap food; itself a byproduct of the decline of cash-crops under Ricardo. A plentiful supply of food resulted in greater numbers of children being born, and a higher proportion reaching adulthood. Birth registers from early in Henry's reign noted cases of eight or even ten children being born to a single family; though this was the extreme end of the scale.
Henry understood better than most of his nobles how this growth would strain society. His tours of inspection found village communities strained to breaking point, and towns swarming with young men in search of work. Reports from magistrates across the empire were a never-ending litany of inheritance disputes, as siblings and cousins struggled for the control of farms too small to support them all. Henry's conquest of Mexico proved a vital safety valve, opening up vast new lands to be colonized. Henry personally funded many such 'plantations', establishing entire new communities in the new lands; connected by new roads and canals. He even went so far as to establish a second capital, Pendragon, between California and Apacheria, to act as a western hub for the sprawling empire. For a time, the sheer scale of Britannia was enough to easily absorb Britannia's excess population.
But that same scale was also a problem for Henry, making him all the more dependent on his archdukes and other territorial nobles. While this doubtless fuelled their ambitions, Henry was too well respected (not to mention feared) for them to seriously consider acting against him. But the seeds of future difficulties were being sown, most notably in the form of the chivalric orders. Under Ricardo, many knights had formed themselves into formal and informal organizations, modeled on the military orders and chivalric brotherhoods of Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Henry was somewhat less tolerant of such things than his father, and sought to make the knightly orders useful. To gain recognition from the College of Arms, an order had to be able to raise and maintain the numbers of a cavalry regiment, and to organize and train themselves in the same fashion. Many smaller orders amalgamated in order to make up the numbers, and by the end of Henry's reign the Roll of Honour included over fifty orders.
The Gathering Storm Edit
Henry died unexpectedly in 1835, aged only 40, of a long-standing illness, possibly complicated by exhaustion and injuries acquired in the Mexican War. His death led to a bout of conflict among his half-siblings and their extended families, as they struggled to secure the crown. When the conflict suddenly turned violent, the Royal families were persuaded to choose a new Emperor from among themselves. The candidate upon whom they settled was Alexander 'Alec' la Britannia, Archduke of Carolina. Born in 1813, he was only 22 at the time; but he had served in Henry's government since he was sixteen, and had fought under his command in Mexico. A quiet, somewhat unassuming character, he was widely regarded as a compromise candidate; someone insufficiently offensive to provoke any interested parties to violence. He took the throne in August of 1835 as 91st Emperor, in a coronation as magnificent as those of his father and half-brother before him.
With Mexico conquered, and Britannia's position as secure as it was likely to be, Alec's reign looked set to be an uneventful one, and in some respects it was. Alec fought no major wars, though he was forced to deal with a number of internal disputes, and oversaw further westward expansion into areas still dominated by native peoples. The knightly orders - and the chivalric class as a whole - grew exponentially in size and influence during his reign, though the long peace and increased internal trade opportunities led to major dividends for the merchant class also. Alec continued his late brother's infrastructure projects, strengthening Britannia with numerous roads, canals, and ports. In terms of governance, his greatest achievement was a massive revamping of bureaucracy and taxation systems, combining a series of ad-hoc, and ex-British, ex-French, and ex-Spanish systems into a single, comprehensive system for the entire empire.
The great difficulties of Alec's reign were ideological and to some extent racial. Britannia's population by 1840 had reached twenty-four million; of which the majority were whites of northern European ancestry. The Native population, idly dubbed 'reds' or more whimsically the 'First Men', proved difficult to calculate reliably; but modern estimates run to a few hundred thousand at the most. The former Spanish or Hispanic population came to somewhere between six and seven million; a substantial minority possessed of a language and culture distinct from that of white Britannians. Of the approximately two million blacks of African ancestry, the majority were serfs; either born into that status or former slaves converted by their owners in previous decades. Between two and three hundred thousand were free citizens, a figure that included serving soldiers and those emancipated in return for military service. Slaves represented a similar but declining figure, the slave population being drained by a combination of military needs, the fashion for serfdom, and the decline of plantation agriculture caused by Britannia's diplomatic isolation.
But by the 1840s, the economic disruption inflicted by the founding of the empire and the expansionary wars had largely settled down. Increased prosperity led to increased demand for luxury goods, including cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, coffee, chocolate, and sugar. Whereas previously the economic viability of slavery had been declining, this change had the potential to make slavery viable, even profitable, once again. But the available pool of slaves was limited, and the law did not allow for serfs to be re-enslaved. Some attempts were made to import new slaves, but this proved expensive and futile. Europe was by this point dominated by the vigorous young Emperor Napoleon Francis II, who in 1835 inherited the crown of Austria from his grandfather. In addition to colonising north-western Africa, Francis had suppressed the slave trade along Africa's Atlantic coast and established numerous colonies. Suffice to say, any attempt to transport slaves from Africa had to contend with the French Imperial Navy, a losing prospect at the best of times.
Denied a source of fresh slaves, planters turned to serfdom to provide the cheap labour they needed. Britannian serfdom was initially a form of indentured servitude, with serfs acquiring their status by individual contract with their lords; usually to pay off debt, or to escape from destitution. To increase the number of available serfs, the planter aristocracy sought to increase the number of ways by which one could become a serf, and make it harder to escape. Planters began to alter the terms of contracts wherever possible, extending serfdom to the families of supplicants - though this was not unusual in practice - and increasing the prices required to buy themselves out. The result was that, throughout Alec's reign, the number of serfs skyrocketed from around three million in 1830 to around five million in 1855. This provided the necessary workers, but the social consequences would be dire.
The other great compliction of Alec's reign was relations with the Native population. Some natives, notably the 'Five Civilized Tribes', had assimilated into Britannian society; maintaining their cultural identities to a greater or lesser degree. Others had adhered more closely to their traditional ways of life; though all nations living within the empire's borders at least nominally acknowledged the Emperor as their sovereign. Problems usually occurred when settlers moving west attempted to settle on lands claimed by the Natives. Throughout Alec's reign, this flow became a torrent, as high birth rates in the eastern archduchies created large numbers of dispossessed young men and women seeking a new life in the west. Henry's sympathetic attitude towards the natives was far from universally shared by his subjects, and many saw nothing wrong with settling on native lands, and killing natives who tried to stop them.
The Shadows Deepen Edit
The peace that followed Lothar's victory would not last long. Britannia had firmly established itself as a Great Power, but this came at the cost of friendly relations with its South American neighbors. Colombia in particular was suspicious of Britannia's intentions, if only because of their geographic proximity and Britannia's failed attempt to establish Britannian Guiana at the beginning of the century. The great flashpoint of the period was the Isthmus of Panama, a narrow strip of land dividing the Pacific ocean from the Caribbean Sea, and beyond it the Atlantic ocean. Whomsoever possessed it could transfer goods and passengers between ports much more quickly than the long voyage around Cape Horn. But Panama was at this point a Department of Colombia, albeit a rebellious one, and Bogota had already permitted Ferdinand de Lesseps to build a Panama canal in 1881; an effort abandoned in 1894 after countless deaths and vast cost overruns.
Lothar found himself under pressure to acquire the canal zone, and even the whole of Panama. But the war with Spain had been costly, and exposed numerous weaknesses in Britannian doctrine and equipment which would take many years to address. Unwilling to go to war, Lothar resorted to guile; unleashing the secretive Pluton organisation into Panama to sound out pro-Britannian elements and stir up an already volatile political situation. When Panama finally declared independence in November of 1903, Pluton agents and troops helped pro-Britannian politicians to secure the government, while Britannian warships blockaded the sea lanes into Panama, preventing the Colombian navy from deploying troops. Faced with a fait accompli, and in no more mood for war that Lothar was, Colombia was forced to back down; and Panama joined the empire as a Protectorate. Work on the Panama canal was quickly resumed.
The 'Panama Incident' was a triumph for Britannia, and proof to Lothar that underhand methods could be just as effective as brute force, if not more so. Unfortunately, it had two tragic side-effects, the most significant of which was a near-complete breakdown in diplomatic relations with South America. It had long been Britannian policy to establish positive relations with South America, especially via marriage alliance with the South American monarchies. But by Lothar's reign this had only been partially successful, with a marriage between Isabel, Princess Imperial and later Empress of Brazil, and Prince Dominic di Britannia.
The marriage itself was successful, producing two sons and one daughter. But although Isabel was personally popular, her marriage damaged her standing in Brazil. This was in part due to patriarchal attitudes in Brazilian society, but her perceived suitability to rule was also weakened by her role in the abolition of slavery - which angered Brazil's wealth elite - her hardline Catholicism, and her unwillingness to actively rule; leaving such matters to her husband.
The Panama Incident, and the Brazilian government's lack of reaction to it, caused outrage in Brazil, and gave a clique of military officers an opening to launch a coup. The Imperial family was forced to flee, taking refuge in Britannia. But despite Lothar's promises of support, Dominic and Isabel had no desire to retake their thrones, and instead focused on lobbying for their children to be recognized as Britannian royalty. An irritated Lothar acquiesced to this, though he went on to develop good relationships with his Brazilian cousins.
The new Brazilian Republic quickly joined forces with Colombia, and sought to establish a continent-wide anti-Britannian military alliance. But by 1908 this had broken down in acrimony and mutual recrimination, mostly due to long-standing distrust between the other states, especially between the republics and monarchies. Relations between Chile and the Kingdom of South America had never been good, and Paraguay remained both fiercely republican and deeply embittered over the loss of so much territory during the War of the Triple Alliance.
Peru remained the oddball of the continent, established when previously pro-Spanish native nobility had defected and joined forces with local rebels to establish their own state. The Kingdom of Peru - also known as Tawantinsuyu or the Neo-Inca Empire - thus attempted to recreate the culture and social structure of the long-fallen Inca Empire; though in practice the result was a cultural hybrid. The main diplomatic sticking point was Peru's dominant religion, a local syncretism of Christianity and Andean sun worship known colloquially as the Sun Church. This new faith spread far beyond Peru's borders, though hardline Catholics and social conservatives elsewhere in South America found it offensive.
The countdown to catastrophe began in 1906, when the British Royal Navy launched their newest warship; HMS Dreadnought. Equipped with all the latest technologies - including electromagnetic guns - this new battleship rendered the navies of the world obsolete overnight, and sparked off a worldwide arms race. Britannia was able to respond relatively quickly, launching its first dreadnought - the Lyonesse - in 1908. Many more would follow. Brazil responded with the Minas Geraes class, and South America and Chile soon did likewise. The air forces of Britannia and the Colombian-Brazilian alliance also saw significant expansion, with both sides building or purchasing airships and fixed-wing aircraft as fast as they could.
Thanks to developments in sakuradite-related technologies, such as lightweight engines and dynamos, airships and fixed-wing aircraft alike had undergone rapid improvement. Britannia itself had seen the first ever first ever controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, care of the Wright Brothers. By 1912, Britannia possessed forty-two zeppelin-style airships and six hundred fixed-wing combat aircraft; of which the most powerful were the Odin class airship and the Valkyrie biplane respectively.
Although the Colombian-Brazilian alliance possessed considerable military power by 1912, it was clear to Colombian military planners that they were at a disadvantage due to Britannian dominance of the Caribbean. A desperate plan was concocted, by which Colombian Q-ships - civilian ships equipped with concealed weapons - would surprise Britannian-held islands and land marines, capturing the islands before the Imperial navy could respond. The activation of the plan, and the opening of the South American War, began as a result of a tragic misunderstanding. Colombian diplomats had succeeded in attracting the sympathy of the French-led Entente Europeenne, consisting of France, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium; to the point where the government in Bogota believed that Entente support would be forthcoming in the event of a war with Britannia.
The final countdown began on July 4th 1914, when Britannian marines boarded and searched a Colombian freighter at Havana, only to send it on its way two days later. What would otherwise have a petty matter proved the fatal spark, as the Colombian government ordered full mobilization and the activation of all war plans. Days later, word arrived from Europe of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenburg, in Sarajevo on June 28th. Europe was on the verge of war, and French support for Colombia could not be guaranteed. President Fernando Aguirre, his confidence shaken, attempted to halt mobilization.
But he faced opposition from the hardline faction in Congress, unofficially led by General Luciano Bianchi, which favoured war with Britannia. In what may have been a tragic case of groupthink, the hardliners believed that French warnings about the European crisis were exaggerated, and that it would be politically impossible for the Entente, after so many declarations of amity, not to come to their aid. On July 16th, the Q-ships began their attacks on Britannian colonies and bases in the Windward Islands. The plan was a complete success, with the islands falling under Colombian control within two days.
The South American WarEdit
Britannia's immediate response was to unleash the Imperial fleet against the occupied islands. In no position to take the Britannians on, the Colombian navy withdrew to await Brazilian reinforcements, leaving their marines trapped on the islands. Britannia's Caribbean Fleet began a brief island-hopping campaign, retaking the islands one-by-one. As more and more Imperial warships arrived, the Colombian fleet linked up with their Brazilian allies near Tobago then steamed north to reinforce their remaining islands. Britannia's East Coast Fleet, under Admiral Paul Steiner, moved to reinforce the Caribbean fleet near Gaudeloupe, and a furious battle ensued on August 8th.
Britannian losses were heavy, including six battleships, five cruisers, and six frigates. But Colombian-Brazilian losses were equally brutal, coming to five battleships, eight cruisers, five destroyers, and eight torpedo boats. The Battle of Guadeloupe was a cruel baptism of fire for the Imperial Navy, but one they could reasonably call a victory, as the allied fleet withdrew and fled south to the safety of Colombian ports. Falling back on the Jeune Ecole tactics that had proven so effective before, the Britannians unleashed their frigates and torpedo boats into the Caribbean. The allies did likewise, and what would come to be called the War of the Little Ships raged across the Caribbean.
Inevitably, Britannia's attentions turned to an invasion of Colombia itself. Though Britannian troops had attempted a breakout from Panama, Colombian forces were keeping them contained. The Imperial army had learned, from bitter experience eleven years earlier, of the defensive firepower afforded by modern magazine rifles, machine guns, and artillery. As such, they had no intention of relying on a land thrust from Panama, and sought to break the deadlock with amphibious landings. But staff officers disagreed on the ideal place to make the landings, with some favoring the Departments of Venezuela and Orinoco - through seas soon to be secured by the navy via the island-hopping campaign - and others favoring Magdalena, due to its proximity to Panama.
The latter was decided upon, with the invasion finally taking place in March of 1915 after many months of preparation. The two main landings, at Cartagena and Barranquilla, were costly failures. But several smaller landings were successful, and by frantic effort the landing forces were able to link up and march on Cartagena, eventually taking the city in May of 1915. This victory cost Britannia around two hundred thousand casualties, with the Colombians suffering comparable losses.
The war in South America came to be dominated by two mighty generals, Joseph 'Blackheart' Lastinger and Marcus 'Bloodbath' Bradley; two personalities as different as they were mutually hostile. Lastinger had risen through the artillery, fighting as a teenage gunner at Albany. A great believer in scientific warfare, he made a name for himself in Mexico with meticulously-planned and brilliantly-executed artillery barrages, and a solid grasp of logistics. But his brilliance was marred by a taciturn callousness that some said mirrored Lothar's own disposition. Though his troops were generally well supplied, he became notorious for 'spending men as he spends shells'; as one commentator put it; hurling his troops forward in human wave assaults following his bombardments.
In sharp contrast was Marcus Bradley, an infamous beau sabreur much loved by his men for his bravura and nigh-suicidal physical courage. Originally a cavalry officer, he favored maneuver over firepower, and believed that men, not machines, won wars. He is most commonly remembered for leading the Imperial army's last great cavalry charge at Villa Cielo, in which his four regiments threw retreating Colombian infantry into disarray and overrun the artillery, only to be forced back by the advancing Colombian reserves. Despite their mutual animosity, both men would in their own ways contribute to the further development of the Imperial army.
Though the Imperial army succeeded in breaking through to the Panama salient, finally securing it after a series of furious battles around the Bocas del Atrato, it had come at a terrible cost. Hundreds of thousands of men were dead or wounded, and even though the army continued to grow thanks to a surge of patriotism and war fever, Lothar must have wondered how long this attitude could last. Determined to avoid a war of attrition that could weaken Britannia and potentially cost him his throne, Lothar turned to the latest technology to break the deadlock. His first choice was the Imperial Aerial Corps, as it was then known.
Earlier in the war, Britannian aircraft had limited themselves primarily to reconnaissance and small bombing or infiltration missions, the latter carried out small infantry units in the manner of German zeppelintruppen or French chasseurs a dirigible. From 1916 onward they shifted to large-scale bombing raids, the first of which was a six-ship raid on Bogota in February of 1916, inflicting heavy damage in return for two airships lost. Though the effect on Colombian war production was not what it might have been, it did force Colombia to expand its air defences at the expense of front-line resources.
Britannia also resorted to new technology on the ground. Taking their cue from the war in Europe, Britannia made use of gas shells for the first time in June of 1916, during an offensive against Medellin. The Chlorine gas released by the shells killed many thousands of Colombian and Brazilian troops, but the gas dissipated relatively quickly, allowing the Colombians to reinforce their rear lines before the Britannians could make much headway. Further gas attacks would be attempted, using a variety of substances, but it never proved the wonder weapon the Britannians were hoping for. One area in which Britannia did enjoy some progress was that of armoured vehicles; one of a series of innovations seeking to grant Britannian troops sufficient mobility to break the trench deadlock.
Following early improvisations with steam tractors, the Britannians came up with the Mark III Armoured Troop Carrier; what would today be called an Armoured Personnel Carrier or APC. These machines were large, slow, and mechanically unreliable; but their caterpillar tracks and powerful steam engines allowed them to force their way through trench lines and shell craters, while their armour was sufficient to stop machine gun fire. At the final attack on Medellin, in August of 1916, fifty of these machines were deployed. Despite around half breaking down, the Britannians were able to break through lines already weakened by artillery, air strikes, and gas. Medellin fell within three days, and Britannian troops reached the Magdalena river a week later. Supported by armed river boats, they made multiple crossings and began what many believed would be the final advance on the capital.
Bogota fell in mid-October 1916, but it was by no means the end. The fall of Medellin had caused a mass panic in Bogota, and the government and many prominent citizens had fled. As a result, the loss of Bogota was significant primarily in terms of its industrial capacity and population, rather than what in previous years would have been the crushing psychological blow of losing the capital. But the new mechanized approach to warfare had otherwise proven itself, and further innovations would follow. Though APCs saw continued improvement, Britannian designers took armoured vehicles in a new direction, once again taking their cue from the battlefields of Europe.
The result was a series of so-called 'Armoured Battle Vehicles', or 'Armours'; though designers were divided over whether to focus on speed or armour and firepower. The intervention of Marcus Bradley, who saw light armours as the basis for a cavalry renaissance, led to a focus on light, fast-moving vehicles. Unlike the steam-driven APCs, the first Armours were equipped with electrical engines powered by Franklin Batteries; providing great power in a relatively small package. The first mass-production design was the A2 Venator, rushed into production in time for an assault on Maracaibo in mid-1917. Leading the 1st Armour Division in person, Bradley spearheaded a flanking attack to the south of lake Maracaibo, breaking through the Colombian defences at Caja Seca.
Ironically, the APCs following him were manned by his rival Lastinger's creation, the so-called Stormtroopers. These men were hardened veterans of the trenches, retrained in fieldcraft and infiltration tactics, and armed with submachine guns, shotguns, and flamethrowers, as well as the new light machine guns. They were also equipped with helmets and body armour; an ironic throwback to Britannia's recent past, but a useful one nevertheless. Dubbed Lastinger's Lions in the press, or Blackheart's Bastards by their fellow soldiers, the stormtroopers fought with a ruthless zeal, rarely taking prisoners. They also proved highly effective in urban combat when Maracaibo's defenders refused to surrender, despite being surrounded.
The Sorrows of Empire Edit
The rest of the South American War was a long, brutal grind, finally coming to an end in May of 1919 when Colombia's last holdout, Cayenne, fell to Britannian forces. Unable to save her ally, an exhausted Brazil sued for peace; meeting with Britannian representatives in neutral Peru. An equally exhausted Britannia had but one condition; that Colombia's surrender was to be regarded as unconditional, and that Brazil would not interfere with the outcome. After five years of war, with hundreds of thousands of Britannians killed or wounded, it was clear that status quo ante bellum was not going to happen. Nevertheless, Brazilian ambassadors signed the Treaty of Lima on June 21st 1919.
The war was finally over, but Colombia's sufferings had only begun. Public opinion in Britannia was bitterly vengeful, and Colombian politicians in exile regularly denounced the Treaty of Lima, calling for national resistance unto death. To Lothar and his government, it was clear that Colombia could not be allowed to exist as a country; for like as not it would only return even stronger and more vengeful than before. The only answer that seemed viable was to turn Colombia into an Imperial Protectorate, and Lothar laid plans for this during the summer of 1919. But his intentions would be for nought, as during an inspection tour of the ruins of Caracas, he was shot by a Colombian Franc-tireur. The wound proved fatal, and he finally succumbed several days later, just as the Imperial train crossed onto Britannian soil.
Lothar had never been a well-loved Emperor, but his death in the moment of triumph was enough to cause an outpouring of public grief. Despite having several children by a series of consorts, he had failed to name an heir; leading to a brief but furious power struggle within the Imperial family that ended with the accession of his son Maximilian rui Britannia as 95th Emperor. Faced with public outrage over Lothar's murder, Maximilian quickly abandoned Lothar's plans for a protectorate, and oversaw development of a much harsher scheme. Under his oversight, Colombia was divided into a series of ten administrative zones, which came to be known as Areas. Native Colombians were expelled from what remained of the cities, which were rebuilt and resettled with Britannian citizens. Of a pre-war population of just over nine million, a little over two million soldiers and civilians had been killed in the course of the conflict. The survivors were driven to the edges of society, forced into shanty towns around the edges of the cities, or else smaller towns and villages in which the Britannians had no apparent interest; at least until they were forced out to make room for Britannian redevelopment projects.
Some vanished into the mountains and jungles to carry on a guerilla resistance, while many more simply fled; disappearing across the borders in search of refuge in Brazil or Peru, with many dying en route. Britannia turned a blind eye to the emigrations, seeing them as a useful means of reducing the native population and making it easier to control. A relative minority, between one and two million, chose to pledge allegiance and become Honourary Britannians. Many of these were wealthy and well-connected, seeking to protect what remained of their property. Others were poor, seeking opportunities in the Settlements or in Britannia. Though officially regarded as Britannians, in practice they endured varying degrees of prejudice and discrimination. Those who remained behind generally endured lives of squalor and poverty, dependent on administrative councils - made up of Honourary Britannians - for employment, housing, and the basic necessities of life. Though some Areas saw gradual improvement, in most cases the councils were only interested in pleasing their Britannian Prefect, and the Viceroy he served; not to mention filling their own pockets.
For Britannians, the conquest of Colombia raised painful questions about who they were and where they were going. The North-South and Knightslayer Wars had left Britannia with a deep sense of vulnerability, awakening bad memories of the Edinburgh Disgrace, but also a painful ambivalence. To attain the wealth and military power afforded by industrialization, the old Britannia had been seemingly destroyed. Britannia had lost its innocence, and had the sense of place and security offered by the Old Britannia stripped away; as much by its own Emperor as by foreign invaders. This sense of loss and vulnerability drove in many Britannians a desire for domination; to regain Britannia's former security by dominating both North and South America.
The Golden Age Edit
The long-awaited peace that followed these dark times was a period of unprecedented prosperity and optimism. With sakuradite easily available, electronics such as wireless radios, electric lighting and heating, and telephones, became increasingly available. As demand for electricity grew, wind turbines and solar farms became increasingly common sights across Britannia. The growing availability of electricity also fueled a growth in car ownership, as increasingly efficient and lightweight sakuradite battery systems made motor cars affordable for the middle class. Driving became a glamorous pastime, with thrill-seeking young knights and nobles popularizing fast cars. By the same token, aircraft technology also developed rapidly, with economically viable airliners appearing the mid-1920s; offering speed as opposed to the comfort and relative safety of airships.
The ten years following the end of the South American War was also a period of incredible cultural and artistic vitality. Professional sports reached a new height, not merely in performance but in variety and magnificence. Towns and cities across the empire built palatial stadiums, capable of hosting almost any sporting event; not merely the relatively new sports such as soccer, football, baseball, and athletics, but the still-popular jousting. New forms of dance and music appeared, of which the most popular was Jazz. By the mid-1920s the most popular entertainment form was cinema, revitalized by sound film and technicolor. So popular was it, that there was hardly a small town or suburb that did not possess a cinema. Cinema retained its role as a propaganda tool, but by this point it had grown into something so much more; with private studios producing a wide variety of films for the mass market.
What set this period aside from previous boom times was not merely its sheer scale, but its depth. Britannia's economic expansion made for near-full employment, and factories that had supported the war effort quickly retooled to produce the new consumer goods; rapidly absorbing the buying power of both the working class and the growing middle class. The result was what appeared to be a benign circle, with even the poorest Britannians enjoying an ever-growing standard of living, while the aristocracy and business elite lived in unimaginable opulence. In some respects this prosperity helped to stabilize Britannian society, convincing even the lowest-ranking commoners that the current social order was worthwhile and beneficial. This was fortunate for the elite, for the growing wealth of the commoners meant that more and more men met the property qualification to vote; and there was increasing talk of extending the franchise to women.
If Britannia had a glaring weakness at this stage, it could be found at the very top. Emperor Maximilian was not a glaringly incompetent ruler, but he lacked the drive and determination displayed by his predecessors. He was notorious in his own lifetime for his enjoyment of modern pleasures, including slumming in cocktail bars, consorting with flappers, and indulging in narcotics. This was far from unusual in the Imperial court at that time, but it did Maximilian's public image little favors. But far worse, as far as the empire was concerned, was his unwillingness to engage fully with the business of government and the management of the economy. He found it convenient to adopt a policy of laissez-faire, leaving the economy to its own devices and letting the market solve its own problems.
The Great Depression Edit
Britannia's golden age came to a sudden and cataclysmic end on October 29th of 1929, a day remembered as 'Black Tuesday', Britannia experienced the single worst stock market crash in its entire history. Precisely what caused it remains unclear, but a commonly-cited factor was the conviction and imprisonment of British investor Clarence Hatry and several of his associates for fraud and forgery in September; also causing the crash of the London Stock Exchange. That such an event could have such an effect on Britannia is proof of how interconnected the global economy had already become. Confidence in the economy was badly weakened, and stockholders began to sell at a rapid rate; so much so that individual stock exchanges could not keep up with rapidly-changing prices, making the panic all the worse. Britannians responded by tightening their belts, selling off consumer goods and cutting back on their spending; leading to large-scale deflation.
The Wall Street Crash, as this event was also known, exposed one of the crucial weaknesses of the Britannian system, and of Maximilian's reign in particular. As Chief Governor of the Imperial Bank, Maximilian was in a position to create or remove currency from the economy via Fiat; by which he could have provided additional funds to prop up failing banks and maintain investment disrupted by falling consumer spending. But Maximilian did almost nothing, clinging instead to his policy of laissez-faire. In his defense, his actual role as Chief Governor was to act on the advice of the Board of Governors, who were almost evenly split on how to respond. He may also have simply found the complexities of the job incomprehensible. Either way, he failed to meaningful act, and the Britannian economy went into meltdown.
Falls in consumer spending led to falling revenues among companies and businesses that engaged in providing for consumerism; primarily factories that produced consumer goods and the shops that sold them, but also the mines and other primary industries that fed the factories, and the transportation companies that connected each phase of the process together; not to mention all the tertiary industries that depended on the shrinking or non-existant wage of the Britannian worker. The result was mass unemployment, and a widespread drop in standards of living, exposing yet another weakness in Britannia's system. Despite the efforts of Claire and Lothar, Britannia had little or no social safety net; there had never previously been any real need for one. State legislatures found themselves having to cope with increasing numbers of unemployed adults, homeless families, and even abandoned children. Some begged Pendragon for increased resources, others raised taxes, while others tried to ignore the problem; citing Purist notions of survival of the fittest, or a laissez-faire desire not to interfere with the market.
Here, once again, Maximilian shot himself in the foot. His father, Emperor Lothar, had made certain provisions for social protection; including an Old Age Pension and an empire-wide network of children's hospitals, administered by the Princess Victoria Foundation; whose funding was backed both by the state and the Imperial estate. Maximilian - driven by an instinctive hatred of his father's legacy - had gradually reduced both his estate and the treasury's contributions to the Foundation, until in 1930 he cut them altogether; leaving the Foundation near-destitute. He also inflicted cutbacks on the system of orphanages set up by Claire and expanded by Lothar; which provided sanctuary for orphaned, abandoned, and abused children. The result was an upsurge in infant and childhood mortality, as well as in numbers of children crippled by otherwise curable conditions, and large numbers of children abandoned on the streets, crammed into ever fewer orphanages, or foisted on distant relatives often unable or unwilling to care for them.
When warned of these events, Maximilian retorted that the 'lazy peasants' should care for their own. Unfortunately, all too many commoners were inclined to agree with him. They resented being taxed to pay for orphans to be fed, clothed, and housed, while they themselves had to work hard to feed and clothe their own families, and got little or no help. When they learned via an infamous press expose that many such 'orphans' actually had living relatives (conveniently including abusive or unfit parents from whom said children had been removed), their anger only grew; providing Maximilian with a convenient populist excuse. But the ruthless extent of his cutbacks, and his failure to stabilize the collapsing economy, left his position increasingly vulnerable. Sympathy for children left destitute by his policies began to grow, as did nostalgia for Lothar's firm hand. To his fury, the increasingly unpopular Maximilian acquired the scornful cognomen 'Emperor Daddy Issues'; referring to a perception that he was wrecking the empire to spite his dead father.
Shadow of Revolution Edit
Maximilian's mismanagement brought the empire closer to revolution than at any time in its history before or since. As unemployment grew worse and worse - reaching as high as twenty-five per cent - new ideologies took root among the newly-destitute. Communism, which had been active for some time in Europe and had risen to power in Russia, began to spread not only among the unemployed, but among low-paid industrial workers. But the ideology to gain the most from these dark times was Nativism; with resentment of Maximilian causing it to mutate into a populist, anti-foreign, and anti-monarchist ideology. Its members took out their anger and resentment on a variety of targets; including nobles, the wealthy, civic officials, police officers, and anyone who spoke out or tried to organize against them, including the Communists whom they particularly loathed. For this reason, Maximilian saw them as a useful catspaw, and tasked the Pluton organization with manipulating them against his enemies, while also countering attempts by police or others to suppress them. Despite Pluton's best efforts, this obvious favoritism did not remain secret; nor did their own involvement.
But even within the court, his enemies were beginning to organize. Of Lothar's eight children, only six had survived to see Maximilian crowned; and few of them bore their distant father much more affection than Maximilian himself did. But as his incompetence became increasingly apparent, even their shared resentment was not enough to keep them loyal. Of his five living siblings, two began to emerge as potential threat. One was Princess Marlene, a charismatic and down-to-earth young woman who combined a love of the outdoor life with enjoyment of modern pleasures such as fast cars. The other was the youngest of the siblings, Prince Rudolph, who hated his father least of all of them. Of the two, Marlene was most popular with the common people and the knightly class - and was often seen accompanied by a retinue of adoring knights - whereas the gracious and good-natured Rudolph was favored by the courtiers and the nobility. By 1930, either of them could have taken the throne, a fact that did not go unnoticed among Maximilian's supporters.
It was Marlene who drew Maximilian's wrath first, when she helped her knightly supporters to organize vigilante operations against the Nativists; in some cases killing Pluton agents, knowingly or otherwise. Maximilian retaliated by denouncing Marlene as a rebel and troublemaker, but shot himself in the foot by accusing her of being a communist; a charge few took seriously. An outright breach was prevented only by the intervention of Rudolph, who persuaded his siblings to negotiate a compromise. Marlene agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to dismiss her oversized retinue of knights; while Maximilian agreed to distance himself from the Nativists and make a greater effort to end the chaos. But far from keeping these promises, Maximilian reacted by unleashing a force of Pluton agents and Nativists against Marlene's residence in Colorado. Marlene and her servants fought to the death, in a battle that would enter popular legend, and be immortalized in the 1934 motion picture Marlene's Castle. Nobles and commoners alike were outraged, and Maximilian's denial of involvement convinced no one. In February of 1933, his Imperial motorcade was assaulted by a team of knights, who succeeded in killing Maximilian before being gunned down by his bodyguards.
Chaos ensued, as Maximilian's siblings and their supporters struggled for power. Rudolph, ironically, was among the first to withdraw himself from the contest. Though popular among nobles, he lacked sufficient support among the commoners and the armed forces, and his credibility had been badly damaged by his failed peace deal; broken though it was by Maximilian's treachery. The throne was eventually secured by the soldier-prince Reinhard von Britannia, after using loyal troops to storm the palace and massacre the corrupt Imperial Guard. The slaughter was enough to terrorize Pendragon into obedience, but it caused disquiet throughout the armed forces. Reinhard nevertheless took similar measures elsewhere, unleashing his generals to crush disorder and resistance by any means necessary. Tens of thousands were killed, and the Nativists were forced underground; but organized crime remained a constant problem. Personally disgusted with his half-brother's incompetence, Reinhard went so far as to have Maximilian stricken from the regnal list, taking the title of 95th Emperor for himself.
The Dark Time Edit
It was at this time that the disgraced Rudolph's son, Prince Theseus, began to enter the game. Born in 1906, Theseus was a character very much out of his time. With little interest in popular culture, and repelled by the decadence that had taken root at court and in society generally, young Theseus found refuge in study, developing a reputation as a bookworm. Under pressure from his parents, he sought out and came to enjoy some of the favored pursuits of his age and class; notably fast cars and aeroplanes. It was in the latter context that he befriended the famed aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh; so much so that when Lindbergh's young son was infamously kidnapped in 1932, Theseus personally visited and consoled the couple. In so doing, he became acquainted with the young head of the Office of Imperial Police (OIP); a certain John Edgar Hoover.
Theseus' rise to power began in the years following the Lindbergh case. Whereas his aunts and uncles had tried to gain power via the army or the nobility and knights, Theseus began by making connections with the wider state apparatus, including the security forces. He became an informal patron to the OIP, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Office of Secret Intelligence (OSI). The latter gave him a degree of influence over Pluton, as many of its sources of experience recruits now fell under the OSI's jurisdiction or surveillance. This invariably drew the suspicion of Maximilian, and made uncle and nephew enemies. It has been widely suggested that Theseus was behind Maximilian's death, a theory given a degree of credence when Reinhard named Theseus as Chief of the OSI shortly after taking power, and he was confirmed in this position by Leonhard
Reinhard's reign was short, and his legacy remains controversial to this day. Disillusioned with the Free Market idealism of previous decades, he sought to stabilize the economy through authoritarian methods; creating a centrally-planned economy - not unlike that adopted in Russia - in which he and his government would control and allocate resources and production according to the broad needs of the empire. This was far from unpopular, especially among the poor and desperate, who found the closed factories and workplaces opening up, and jobs once again available. Resistance tended to come from middle class intellectuals, who regarded such a policy as bad management and a threat to democracy; such as it was. But this was nothing compared to the reaction of the capitalist class, who reacted badly to Reinhard's use of Compulsory Purchase laws to buy and reactivate abandoned businesses, and who regarded his state-run enterprises as unfair competition and distorting the market.
Reinhard, for his own part, cared nothing for the feelings of businessmen. He was well-known as a skeptic of capitalism, and regarded the new capitalist class not merely as a threat to the social order - as many conservative nobles did - but as a threat to the empire's very survival. He equated them to Roman patricians in the final years of the Western Roman Empire; controlling most of the empire's resources, uninterested in the common good, and willing to undermine the government and even assassinate Emperors to get what they wanted. He intended to deal with such characters the way he believed the Roman Emperors should have; take their wealth by force, and kill any who resisted. This he did, increasing taxes on the rich, confiscating wealth and assets where he saw fit, and imprisoning or executing all who resisted him; on charges real or trumped-up. It is perhaps little wonder, then, that he was assassinated in 1936.
When the time came to select a new Emperor, only three candidates were remotely viable. One was Theseus, while his rivals were the twin daughters of the murdered Princess Marlene; Princess Erika and Princess Christa. Both had risen to public prominence by building on their mother's reputation, but in their own distinct ways. Erika had followed the soldier's path, and had won a reputation as a just Princess who stood up for the downtrodden, attracting a retinue of devoted knights as her mother had done. Christa, by contrast, lent her aid in a more civil manner, donating large sums of money for the relief of the poor, and working to improve provision of healthcare and education in the worst-off regions. Either of them could conceivably have become Empress, but were let down by their gender - in an equalizing but still somewhat patriarchal society - and their relative youth. Theseus, by contrast, was in firm control of the OSI and the Imperial Police, and was generally acceptable to the armed forces. In September of 1936, with Erika and Christa having withdrawn their candidacy and given oaths of fealty, Theseus was enthroned as the 96th Emperor.
A New Britannia Edit
Fortuitously, the crisis he inherited was showing signs of resolution. Though his uncle Leonhard had provoked much anger and rebellion with his policies, much of the low-level violence throughout the empire was beginning to calm down. Ordinary Britannians were weary of the poverty and organized crime that had erupted under Maximilian's mismanagement, and looked to Theseus to restore order and prosperity. The former was an obvious place for Theseus to start, for he enjoyed the personal loyalty of both Pluton and the OSI - now a highly effective intelligence and counter-intelligence organization - and its civil counterpart, the OIP. The latter had flourished under the leadership of Hoover, who was fiercely loyal to Theseus and determined to prevent what he saw as subversive elements - particularly Communists and Nativists - from gaining control. Once safely on the throne, Theseus ended his uncle's policy of military suppression, returning the troops to their barracks and setting about a program of reorganization and re-equipment. In the meantime, he unleashed the OSI and OIP against the enemies of law and order; Communists, Nativists, gangsters, religious extremists, and many others.
By late 1937, order had been effectively restored; though the final mopping-up of significant elements would take many more years. Theseus continued his uncle's policy of central control of the economy, focusing primarily on the improvement of infrastructure. He also turned his attention to the central Britannian prairies, where a decade-long series of droughts and dust storms had ruined agriculture and countless people into poverty and starvation. His response was an irrigation and land-development project on a scale that astounded his contemporaries, with one awe-struck journalist describing it as 'like nothing seen since the days of Rome.' These projects would prove popular and successful, especially for the employment they created. But they were also ruinously expensive, continued to attract resentment from among the capitalist class, who used their influence in the Senate to interfere with and even block some of Theseus' policies.
The primary bone of contention was Theseus' attempts to enforce higher wages and safer working conditions in return for loosening state control of the economy. Such promises did much to win the support of commoners, and draw support away from anti-government elements. Angered by such restrictions, and fearful of the cost, wealthy businessmen and business-minded nobles fought fiercely against these reforms. Theseus found himself under increasing pressure, both from his own councilors and from his lower class supporters, to enforce the reforms by Imperial decree. Theseus nevertheless resisted, knowing from experience that to push forward without the political consensus implied by a senate vote would ultimately solve nothing.
His chance came only at a terrible price. In April of 1938 a train passing through High Point, Carolina, derailed after running points at excessive speed. The resulting pileup and inferno were made all the worse when a local train plunged into the wreckage, and very nearly made even worse when the Imperial train, with Theseus on board, very nearly did likewise. Theseus became a popular hero overnight when he leapt down from his train and joined the relief effort, but this could not overshadow two hundred and thirty five deaths.
The railway companies, who had long resisted attempts to enforce stricter safety regulations, could not prevent Theseus from personally investigating the crash; which was found to have been caused by inadequate maintenance of trains and trackside equipment, along with poor train control and signally practices. When Theseus put a bill before the Senate ordaining the creation of the Imperial Transport Safety Executive, only the most irascible or foolhardy voted against it. With his moral authority seemingly unassailable, resistance to his reforms crumbled. By the summer of 1938, Theseus' reform program was well underway, and the economy was showing signs of recovery. But nearly two decades of misgovernment and economic chaos had robbed Britannia of much of its military and diplomatic prestige. The lion looked old and weak, and the great powers smelled blood.
Chief among those who sought to profit from Britannia's apparent weakness were the Japanese Empire and the states of South America; by then united in a military alliance known as ANASUR for ten years. Both had embraced authoritarianism as a result of the Great Depression, with the Royal family of South America being forced out by a military coup in 1933, which renamed the country Argentina. Japan, despite its highly lucrative sakuradite reserves, had also suffered economically, undermining its nascent democracy. Though the wealthy Zaibatsu cliques still held the upper hand in politics, the armed forces were increasingly radicalized; though divided between the technology-minded Toseiha and spiritually-minded Kodoha factions. The conflict finally came to an end in 1934, with the failure of a Kodoha-backed coup attempt, but the real power in Japan increasingly lay with the Six Houses of Kyoto; a clique of noble families who controlled the sakuradite trade. In cooperation with the Toseiha militarists, they pushed for a program of limited territorial expansion; intended both to appease more hardline militarists and to make Japan less vulnerable to economic and military crises.
A weak and divided China was of little real concern to Japan, leaving Russia, Britannia, and the French colonial presence as the real threats. Britain, with only two colonial enclaves at Singapore, Hong Kong, and its ally Australia, were considered lesser threats. While Russia could be held off with a substantial military presence in Manchuria, the expansion plan required Japanese forces to secure the French East Indies, which in turn required attacks on French-controlled Indochina. The Britannian-controlled Philippines were in the way, and the Japanese could not ignore the possibility that Britannia would react badly to their plans. Forced to assume that Britannia would respond with violence, Japan signed a secret treaty with ANASUR in 1935, agreeing to go to war against Britannia together. In return for ANASUR's support, the Japanese allowed its new allies access to Japanese technology, officially under license. ANASUR was eager to accept, as its own military industries were still under development, and economic and diplomatic difficulties had made the importing of European military equipment difficult.
Second South-American War Edit
The final countdown began in 1938, as an increasingly confident ANASUR began to ramp up tensions along its northern border with Britannia. For Theseus this was a disaster, as his military and economic reforms were far from complete. But it was arguably even worse for the Japanese, who did not intend to activate their expansion plan until 1940 at the earliest. Nevertheless ANASUR, headed by Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas, was determined to go ahead; driven by fears that Britannia's defences would only grow stronger under Theseus' leadership.
The plan drawn up by Brazil's Joint Staff involved a two-pronged attack along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This would consist primarily of Brazilian and Peruvian troops respectively, with Chilean and Argentinian troops providing a strategic reserve as soon as they could be moved north. Their doctrine and strategy was based on the latest European thinking, as well as the bitter experiences of the previous war. The attacks would begin with air and artillery attacks on selected areas, with light infantry and armour exploiting the gaps and pushing into the rear echelons. These attacks would be supported in turn by airborne troops deployed by parachute from airships or fixed-wing aircraft, and disguised commando units. At the same time, ANASUR airships, bombers, and warships would strike strategic targets in the former Colombian territories. The primary and over-arching goal of this campaign was to secure the Isthmus of Panama; Britannia's only land route to South America. If this could be secured, then Britannia could be held back and brought to terms.
The attacks began in October of 1938, as ANASUR aircraft launched bombing raids against Britannian border towns and settlement cities. In the east, Brazilian jungle fighters swarmed over the border into the former Guiana territory, easily outflanking the isolated Britannian garrison towns. In the west, a mixed force of Peruvians and Brazilians launched armoured thrusts against the garrison town of Cumbal and the settlement city of Ipiales; the lynchpins of a network of garrison towns that controlled the entire region. Both were heavily fortified, but surprise air attacks - made worse by the use of poison gas - threw both into chaos. Both were overrun within days of the opening attacks, despite desperate efforts by the defenders. Meanwhile, Peruvian and Brazilian warships attacked the ports at Tamaco and Buenaventura, but heavy coastal defences limited them to hit-and-run attacks.
More to come
Britannia is in theory a Constitutional Monarchy, with power divided between the throne and a bicameral legislature; with the aristocracy represented by the House of Lords and the commoners (everyone else) represented by the House of Commons. The Emperor's powers are in practice extensive, including the right to sign and veto legislation, appoint Ministers and Judges, command the armed forces,but not convene and dismiss Parliament, grant pardons, and receive ambassadors.
Imperial Family Edit
The Imperial family is headed by the reigning Emperor or Empress. The Emperor's consorts, whether singular or multiple, are generally granted the title of Queen Consort, whereas an Empress' consort is is referred to as King Consort. A reigning sovereign may chose to grant his or her consort the Crown Matrimonial, and thus promote them to Emperor or Empress Consort (as appropriate), becoming the sovereign's co-ruler.
Thanks to a reform by Emperor Theseus, any consorts not promoted to Emperor or Empress Consort occupy the level of the chain of precedence directly below the Sovereign regardless of gender; thus removing a built-in disadvantage to Sovereign's daughters, who previously were subordinate to female consorts, who were equal to the Sovereign's sons. Thus the order of precedence runs from Emperor or Empress to King or Queen Consorts, then the Sovereign's children, and the children of the Sovereign's children.
Royal children are granted the title of Prince or Princess, and numbered according to their standing within the Imperial family, and perceived likelihood of taking the throne. The eldest child is considered Heir Apparent regardless, as they cannot be displaced merely by the birth of another child; and as such receives the title of Crown Prince or Princess. In practice, however, the throne goes to whomsoever is able to take and hold it.
Under Emperor Maximilian, the Imperial residence was established along the humorously-named Saint Darwin Boulevard, located some way outside Pendragon. Individual consorts received their own residences, though their neighbours include powerful and wealthy nobles with whom they socialize.
Family life amid the Imperial court is invariably a fraught affair. Emperor Lothar is noteworthy not only for having resurrected the custom of having multiple consorts, but also for managing to maintain a degree of amity and peace between them; this he achieved by showing none of them any particular favor. This had the unfortunate side effect of causing most of his children to deeply resent him; Maximilian most of all.
In practice, as seen in Maximilian and Charles' reigns, relations between consorts are all too often very bad. Good relations sometimes occurred, based on mutual respect or shared interest, but the need to secure their children's futures, not to mention the throne, hangs over everything. These complexities can be seen among Charles zi Britannia's consorts. Gabriella la Britannia was by far the most overtly villainous, openly bullying the children of other consorts, notably those of Marianne vi Britannia; though at the same time she allowed her beloved son Clovis to socialize with them. Victoria li Britannia, mother of Cornelia and Euphemia, was one of the most respected consorts, but had a mutually respectful relationship with the controversial Marianne, and allowed her daughters to socialize with Marianne's children.
The ideology of Purism can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century, coalescing in response to Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution. At the time it fell broadly under the conservative umbrella, as it sought to preserve Britannia's traditional social and political structure, in particular the supremacy of the aristocracy. What set it aside from traditional reactionary elements was its attitude towards the membership of the aristocracy. Purists embraced Social Darwinism, and developed their own version of Darwin's concept of survival of the fittest. For Purists, the worthiness of the aristocracy was as much a matter of proven ability as of blood; the worthy should be permitted to rise, and the manifestly unworthy allowed to fall. They argued for the ennobling of commoners of proven ability, ostensibly to ensure that Britannia was effectively governed; but also to give commoners a stake in the system, and make them less likely to object to aristocracy as an institution.
Purists also came to oppose slavery and serfdom. Though various reasons were cited at the time, one of the most common focussed on the corruption of public morals. To keep a human person in bondage was believed to have a corrupting effect, both on the generally aristocratic owner and on the free commoners who lived amidst this system. To raise an aristocrat amid slavery and serfdom, it was argued, would instill an instinctive contempt for his fellow human beings; one he would inevitably if unconsciously extend to non-slaves and non-serfs. Commoners in turn were being corrupted, made indolent and arrogant by their status as free commoners amid chattels. Such attitudes, the Purists argued, were destructive to social order and inimical to progress.
The Nativist ideology was born in the reign of Emperor Lothar the Iron-Handed, though it would take several decades to metastasize into its current form. It began as Lothar sought to turn the Arthurian, pseudo-medieval Britannia into a modern industrial superpower; a process he considered indispensable to Britannia's survival. The result, for countless lower-class Britannians, was the destruction of their way of life. Peasant farmers found themselves forced off their land, sometimes by wealthy landowners, other times by their own, more enterprising neighbors. Forced to head for the cities in search of work, they endured lives of disease-ridden, industrial toil, dreaming of the world that had been. Such men and women proved easy fodder for a variety of populist political movements, ranging from anti-industrial reactionaries to Marxists But know are mostly Washington democracts
Nativism has been a constant if inconsistent force in Britannian politics ever since, generally feeding off the resentments of lower-class Britannians in order to gain influence. As such, it regularly manifests as a populist ideology, to the point of being disrespectful and even outright hostile to the aristocracy and even the monarchy. This, when combined with a tendency among Nativist hardliners to overreach themselves, has more often than not caused the movement to suffer a public backlash. This has largely kept the Nativists from serious power beyond a presence in the senate, but they cannot be completely ignored.but washington democarts have becomes the most effective and biggest also most effective and honorable and respected.
The Britannian economy is essentially capitalist, with a distinctly laissez-faire tendency. It is one of the world's largest, counting for an estimated 30% of global GDP. Like the empire, the economy has historically been a closed system, with relatively little external interaction or trade taking place. This isolation was cemented by the conquest of South America, which provided Britannia with all the raw materials and capital it could possibly need; with the sole exception of sakuradite. Attempts to expand international trade in the early 21st century were ended by the Indochina crisis, when the EU managed to enforce a global trade embargo of unprecedented scale and scope against Britannia.
Though mixed and highly diverse, the economy is dominated by two primary forces; the Imperial Bank of Britannia, and the Megacorporations. The former is the empire's central bank and lender of last resort, with the sole and unique right to issue currency. The post of Chief Governor is always held by the reigning Emperor, though the role may be carried out by a designated proxy; Emperor Charles' proxy was his son and Chancellor, Schneizel el Britannia. As a result, the Emperor in effective has the power to set monetary policy and control the amount of cash money in circulation. This in theory allows the Emperor to prevent the economy from running out of control, but in turn places a crucial and overwhelming responsibility on the shoulders of a single person.
The Megacorporations are the many dozens of major corporations and conglomerates that between them dominate most economic activity outside the direct purview of the Throne and the Imperial Family. Some are over a century old, and most are under the effective control of aristocratic families. Denied outright monopolies by anti-trust laws, megacorporations tend to make up for it with highly diverse portfolios, with the largest encompassing dozens of different industries. Their wealth and economic importance gives them enormous political influence, to the point where they effectively control the empire's accountancy bodies. As a result, effective oversight of their accounting practices, and wider operations, is nigh-on impossible short of outright espionage. This tendency has been a factor in a number of major economic crises, including the 1996 'Credit Crunch'.
The Britannian armed forces are organized into three primary branches; army, navy, and air force. Each has its own knightmare branch; the Royal Panzer Infantry, the Royal Marine Infantry, and the Royal Aerial Infantry respectively. The Royal Guard is also a separate branch unto itself, and all branches are connected by certain sub-branches, notably the VTOL Corps and the Logistics Corps. The Office of Secret Intelligence maintains its own special forces unit.
The style of uniforms is for the most part consistent. The basic duty uniform consists of a white shirt and red necktie, with officers wearing a double-breasted jacket and enlisted men wearing a distinctive high-collared tunic; also worn by officers when going into combat. Trousers are generally worn, though women have the option of wearing knee-length skirts. Officers generally wear flat caps, while enlisted men wear German-style field caps. The colour-coding system is based on the Britannian concept of 'noble colours'. Enlisted men wear grey, subaltern officers wear blue, and flag-rank officers wear white (in practice more of a pale grey). Staff officers wear a distinctive grey greatcoat, with cap bands and short capes in Royal crimson for those serving a member of the Imperial family. The OSI wears a distinctive uniform in pale grey and white, with relatively little distinction between officers and enlisted.
Doctrine and StrategyEdit
The Imperial Britannian armed forces serve two primary purposes; to defend the Empire's territory and people, and to destroy and conquer its external enemies. Before Emperor Charles zi Britannia's accession in 1997, a lot of the armed forces had endured decades of stagnation, with a good portion having little combat experience aside from counter-insurgency work in South America and taking Elite expitionary forces taking part on the side of the Europion union in the EU Soviet war. Charles' response was the so-called Millennium Plan; under which the armed forces were to be revamped and re-equipped; ostensibly to ensure the Empire's security, but in reality to prepare for a war of global conquest.
It was agreed that Britannia could not afford to fight a modern war of attrition. Even with its massive industrial capacity and the mass unemployment inflicted by an increasingly automated economy, the maximum realistic strength of the Imperial forces was around twenty million; of which a substantial portion would be needed to hold down newly-conquered territories. In response, the General Staff divided their doctrine into two distinct aspects. Conquests would be wars of machines and mobility, overwhelming the enemy both physically and psychologically with extreme firepower and fast-moving elite forces. Large units of lesser-quality troops would then move in to occupy the conquered territories, holding them down long enough to acclimatize the population to Britannian rule.
The Knightmare frame was a crucial tool in this strategy. Despite the chivalric pretensions surrounding them, their tactics owed a great deal to the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan and his successors. Their initial role in a campaign was in combat recon, seeking out the enemy while destroying or suppressing their counterparts. Larger units would then outflank the enemy, isolating enemy formations and attacking the rear echelons. With the enemy divided and demoralized, reserve knightmare formations would join the battle and strike the killing blow. The knightmares would be supported in their efforts by the air force, and also by fire support from the newly-designed Caliburn assault gun.
This strategy was first attempted in the campaigns of late 2010, the first being the invasion of Japan, followed by the Siberia offensive. In Japan this strategy was superficially effective, with Japanese forces overwhelmed and annihilated in almost all encounters; but Britannia's inexperienced Devicers suffered around fifty per cent casualties; largely due to Japanese artillery or missile attacks by concealed infantry. In Siberia, the Britannians relied heavily on their airpower to overwhelm Russian forces sufficiently to let the knightmares finish them off. On more than one occasion, large Russian formations were able to stand their ground and fight their way clear of Britannian encirclements. Britannia responded by using its Caliburn assault guns more aggressively, deploying them to provide fire support to the knightmares; but despite their agility and firepower they suffered heavy losses against Russian tanks.
By 2012, it was clear that the original strategy was not working. Britannia's response was threefold; to increase the firepower of its knightmares, to provide more powerful land-based artillery, and to increase the firepower and resilience of its direct engagement formations. In the first case, the response was the long-barrelled G-cannon. In the second case, the answer was the Balor superheavy gun, though it would not appear in numbers until 2017. In the third case, Britannia chose to reactivate the supposedly obsolete Clarent MBTs; though not before subjecting them to an extensive upgrade package.
MB-2A Clarent Main Battle Tank Edit
First appearing in 1990, the Clarent was Britanna's second Main Battle Tank, brought in to replace the ageing MB1D Fenrir. It was designed in response to the advanced tanks of the EU and USSR, which proved so deadly in the EU-Soviet War, and which were obviously superior to the Fenrir. The Clarent was not originally intended to be part of the Millennium Plan, but was brought back into service in 2012 to fill capability gaps. For this purpose, existing Clarents were upgraded to the MB-2A variant.
The original Clarent was armed with a 105mm rifled gun, replaced on the 2A with a 120mm coilgun and autoloader. The original turret-mounted machine gun was replaced with a 20mm autocannon, which could be fired from inside the tank by the gunner or linked to the Factsphere to act as a CIWS.
The Clarent's armour is a steel-ceramic composite known as Covington, revolutionary for its time. The 2A upgrade saw the outer and inner layers replaced with Schrotter Steel for even greater protection.
M-115 Morddure Armoured Personnel Carrier Edit
The Morddure is Britannia's front-line APC, used by both regular and colonial formations. It is built on the same six-wheel chassis as the Caliburn, but with a different superstructure to match its role. Its armament is a pair of 20mm autocannons set into a forward turret, providing effective firepower against aircraft, knightmares, and light vehicles. Its laminate armour is proof against small arms, but vulnerable to anti-vehicle and knightmare weaponry. The crew consists of a driver, gunner, and commander, with space for eight passengers.
MA-55 Caliburn Assault Gun Edit
The Caliburn is a six-wheeled AFV, based on the same chassis as the Morddure and the same turret as the Clarent. It carries a 240mm railgun, with its mechanism and targeting systems configured for both direct and indirect fire. Like the Morddure, it is light enough to be used by rapid-deployment formations. Though its armour is somewhat heavier than that of the Morddure, it is still vulnerable to anti-vehicle and knightmare weaponry.
SHA-4 Balor Superheavy Artillery Gun Edit
The Balor is the ultimate in mobile superheavy artillery. Essentially a gigantic railgun mounted on a chassis the size of a G-1 MCV, the Balor can achieve ranges of up to 500 kilometres.
MS-2 Lugh mobile SAM system Edit
The Lugh is a mobile SAM system similar in concept to late Soviet and current EU systems, such as the Hydra; though not as sophisticated or capable as the latter. It has a detection range of 250 km, and its LM-2 missiles have a range of 200 km. Its C4C system can track and engage up to fifty targets, and can be linked into a network with other systems for increased capability.
G-1 MCV Edit
One of the Britannian army's most iconic vehicles, the G-1 is an HQ bunker on tracks. Though only lightly armed, with a single railgun and two CIWS turrets, its C4C capabilities are sufficient to control an entire combined-arms division. It also carries up to twelve knightmares, either to provide protection for the MCV or to allow the commander to take to the field in person.
Kestrel VTOL gunship
The Kestrel is a single-seat VTOL gunship, similar in appearance and role to the helicopter gunships of previous decades. It carries a ventral 80mm railgun as standard, and two wing-mounted hard points; usually carrying rocket pods. The Kestrel's primary role is to support ground operations, but they can also be deployed from floatships for air-to-air combat.
Rhiannon multirole VTOL Edit
The Rhiannon is a small transport VTOL. Its usual roles are Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), troop and supply transport, and airborne command. They can also carry weapons, such as door-mounted heavy coilguns, to support ground troops. A naval variant, whose purpose includes Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) is used by the Navy.
Morrigan transport VTOL Edit
The Morrigan is a transport VTOL, similar in concept and role to the Rhiannon but larger; thus possessing a greater passenger and cargo capacity. It is generally unarmed, but a gunship variant with heavy coilguns and a 100mm railgun was improvised in southern Africa, and later accepted for production.
Hawk multirole heavy fighter Edit
The Hawk is Britannia's standard multirole fighter, capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat; though favoring air-to-air. It is a fifth-generation fighter, inspired by the 'stealth shock' of European and Soviet experiments in the 1980s, and is considered one of the finest - and last - examples of first generation stealth technology. Though a heavy fighter, its VTOL system allows it to take off and land from a carrier. Its standard armament is two 20mm coilguns, while its internal bays can carry up to eight air-to-air missiles, or the equivalent tonnage in bombs and air-to-ground missiles. Though powerful, the Hawk is also expensive, to the point where it is used only by elite squadrons; primarily for homeland defence.
Falcon multirole light fighter
The Falcon is an older and more versatile fighter, designed originally as a carrier-based ground attack aircraft. Though it lacks the stealth features of its newer cousin, it carries considerably more and heavier weaponry, and regular upgrades have kept its electronics suite competitive. The latest models are VTOL capable, making for easier turnarounds on carriers.
Albatross heavy transport Edit
Logres class floatship Edit
Caerleon class floatship Edit
Famous and Infamous BritanniansEdit
Emperor Ricardo le Britannia
Emperor Henry 'the Cunning'
Emperor Lothar 'the Iron-Handed'