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This article covers the History of the Holy Empire of Britannia, as presented in Juubi-K's Code Geass fanworks.

Pre-Britannian History[]

Mythology[]

Britannian tradition holds that its true origins lie in a series of kingdoms established in the British Isles. The first of these was a Brythonic kingdom supposedly established by a Celtic warlord named Eowyn or Alwyn, under whose leadership the Brythonic Celts turned back a Roman invasion by Julius Caesar in 54 BC. Caesar did indeed attempt to invade Britannia - or at least reconnoiter it in force - in 55 and 54 BC. In the latter case, Roman sources claim that Caesar forced or persuaded several Celtic tribes to become Roman clients. Unless this is a case of Roman propaganda surviving as historical record - as adherents to the Britannian Legend hold - the Alwyn story is as much a fabrication as Geoffrey of Monmouth's histories or the Myth of Scota.

A somewhat more plausible Britannia appears in a more mysterious period in British history, that period from the early 5th to the early 7th century known as Sub-Roman Britannia, or more poetically as the Dark Ages. It is in this period that the legends of King Arthur, with whom many Britannians strongly identify themselves, are generally taken to have occurred. The stories of Arthur and his exploits are numerous and varied, but the Britannian Legend holds that it was Arthur who managed to reunite a fragmented and war-torn Roman Britannia into the new Kingdom of Britannia; a kingdom so strong that it was able to force its will on Scotland and Ireland also. This kingdom was - the legend states - ultimately brought down by infighting and Anglo-Saxon invasions, leading gradually to the establishment of Anglo-Saxon England.

The Tudors []

Despite its claims to a mythical origin, Britannia's real story begins during the reign of the House of Tudor. Its founder was Henry Tudor, a descendant of the Plantagenet King Edward III via his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. Following a long period of civil war -known rather poetically as the Wars of the Roses - Henry seized the crown of England by force in 1485; defeating the current incumbent, King Richard III, at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry would reign for twenty-four years, and is credited with having stabilized a wounded kingdom and made it prosperous. He also oversaw what is known as the 'Tudor Revolution in Government' - though the process actually began under his predecessors Edward IV and Richard III - a process by which the personal government of monarchs was replaced by a more bureaucratic system. It was this expanding bureaucracy that allowed Henry to disarm the nobility and build his power base.

He was succeeded in 1509 by his son Henry VIII, whose long and tumultuous reign would see England remove itself from the Roman Catholic Church. He is also, more famously, remembered for having married no less than six wives; of whom he divorced two and executed two. His reign saw the power and influence of Parliament increase; as Henry increasingly called upon it to provide him with funding, and to assist him against the power of the nobility and the Church. Following his death in 1547, he was succeeded by his young son, Edward VI, by his third wife; Jane Seymour. Edward showed every sign of being a capable ruler, though he was by modern standards a religious fanatic, determined to impose a hardline Protestant vision of Christianity on England. His death by tuberculosis in 1553 put paid to this ambition.  

Edward's successor, after a brief crisis, was his half-sister Mary; Henry VIII's daughter by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. In a distorted mirror of Edward's Protestantism, Mary was a hardline Catholic, driven to undo her father and brother's reforms and restore English Catholicism as it was before. But her marriage to Prince Philip (later King Philip II) of Spain proved unpopular, and her persecution of Protestants led to around three hundred being burned at the stake; more than the Spanish Inquisition and its French equivalent put together in the same period. Her loss of Calais to France - England's last continental holding - was a strategically minor but ideologically humiliating blow. She was ultimately defeated by failing health, dying of uterine cancer in 1558.  

It was during Mary I's reign that the name of Britannia rose once, in the form of Charles de Bretan. His precise origins are unclear, but he was one of many noble families who claimed some connection to the mythical 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 half-sister Elizabeth - Henry VIII's daughter by his second wife, Anne Boleyn - Charles jumped at the chance. But for all her desire to keep Elizabeth under control, 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 favored 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 attaining any of them.

Elizabeth ruled until March of 1603; a reign of forty-four years. During this time she would fight off numerous armed revolts and one major invasion attempt; the Spanish Armada. Her war record overseas was much less glorious. Her attempts to support the Huguenot King Henry IV of France were largely ineffectual, and the war with Spain - of which the Spanish Armada was a part - went largely in Spain's favor. She nevertheless enjoyed some notable diplomatic successes. One of these was with Russia, with Tsar Ivan IV establishing an exclusive trading relationship, and becoming so impressed with Elizabeth as to propose marriage. Other successes included trading relationships with the Barbary States and the Ottoman Empire; both enemies of Spain.

The Tudors[]

Henry IX (1603 - 1625)

Henry IX was born in August of 1559, in the first year of the reign of his mother, Elizabeth I of England. His birth was a great triumph for Elizabeth, and for more than personal reasons. By giving birth to a healthy son, Elizabeth had secured her position as the rightful Queen and the future of the Tudor dynasty. His birth also rendered his father, Charles le Bretan, extraneous.

As it was, Henry saw little of his parents while growing up. Like his mother before him, he spent his early years away from the court; and was educated in the manner that Elizabeth and her brother Richard had recieved. Pioneered by Richard Ascham, it held that kindness was a better teacher than punishment, and that learning should above all be engaging. Henry thrived both intellectually and physically, and showed no sign of disappointing widespread hopes that he would be another Henry VIII, a mighty colossus to lead England to glory. But as he approached manhood, his relationship with his mother became increasingly strained; a situation made worse by troublesome courtiers and nobles trying to convince him that Elizabeth was denying him his rightful power and prestige. Such attempts were ineffectual, but served to fuel tensions between the ageing Queen and her brilliant, restless son.

This tension reached its peak in 1587, when Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, became Elizabeth's favourite. Henry had known Devereux since childhood, and by some accounts took a strong dislike to him. The precise reasons for this are uncertain, but ill-feeling about Devereux's closeness to the Queen - to the point where rumours of a romantic connection began to circulate - is bound to have played a role. Another suggested reason is Devereux's reputed mistreament of Robert Cecil, son of Elizabeth's chief advisor Sir William Cecil, when they were children. Henry found both pleasure and irritation in Devereux's failures, especially his failure as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; his pleasure growing when Elizabeth sent him to assist the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland - Charles Blount, Earl of Devonshire - with settling matters there.

As King, Henry proved himself a strong-willed, dignified character; though he became renowned and feared for flashes of volcanic rage. Aged forty-four on taking the throne, he was already married to Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James Stuart, Earl of Moray and Regent of Scotland. She had also given him a son named Richard. His court was known for its magnificence, but also its propriety; with great importance being placed on ritual and etiquette. Diplomatically, Henry maintained good relations with James VI of Scotland; personally comiserating him on the death of his son, Henry Frederick, and sending money and troops to aid his daughter Elizabeth, the 'Winter Queen' of Bohemia.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Henry's reign, and that for which he is most remembered, is the colonisation of North America, the Caribbean islands, and South Africa. During his youth, this was one of the responsibilities Elizabeth had given her son in order to test and expand his abilities, and Henry developed something of an obsession with it. During his reign he extended the sentence of 'Transportation' (to the colonies) to more and more crimes, until his laws were popularly dubbed the 'Sail Code'; with the effect of gradually increasing the colonial population, and the colonial output. It is in this context that the single undeniable crime of his reign appears; for he greatly increased the importation of African slaves as a cheap work force for the colonies. All the while, the growing trade in cash crops - such as tobacco, sugar, coffee, and chocolate - kept money pouring into Henry's coffers. Not only did this allow him a lavish lifestyle without raising taxes, but also paid for a much-expanded Royal Guard; a move that would have unfortunate repercussions later.

Richard IV (1625 - 1647)

With the death of Henry IX in 1625, his throne was ascended by his son, Richard. Richard was a quite different character from his father; sharing his intellect and love of learning, but not his fury or his ruthlessness. He spent much of his childhood caught between his parents and his formidable grandmother in their frequent rows, an uneviable situation for any child. This made him shy, and bred in him a tendency to be charming and accomodating; generally telling people what he thought they wanted to hear. This could be useful in a diplomatic context, something he generally handled well, but left him with a reputation for being two-faced and lacking in conviction.

Richard took comfort in religion, specifically the High-Church Anglicanism favoured by the court and most of the aristocracy. Inclined to religious tolerance and hateful of conflict, he recoiled from what he saw as the bigotry and intolerance of hardline Protestants; commonly known as Puritans. For them, the English Reformation had not gone anything like far enough, and Richard’s 'book, bell, and candle' tastes were dangerously Catholic. Worse still was his support for Charles I, 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 Richard in 1615.  Charles, like his father, sought to rule as an absolute monarch, and shared Richard'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 main centre of resistance to the Crown was Parliament, an institution whose power had grown over the past 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. Parliament had come to realize its 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, 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. Richard 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 Richard to govern without Parliamentary taxes, as well as maintaining the guard regiments left to him by his father. Richard 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 King Charles. Forced to flee to England with his family and closest supporters, Charles turned to Richard for help.   

Unable to get political support or war funds from Parliament - many of whom sympathised with the Covenanters - Richard tried to raise troops with his own resources, while attempting to negotiate with the Covenanters. The latter responded by invading England in August of 1640, defeating an English army at Newburn Ford and occupying the city of Newcastle; cutting off the coal supply to London. With political support still not forthcoming, Richard was forced to make an armistice with the Scots. Matters got progressively worse, as Parliamentary hardliners made ever more extreme demands; including the dismissal or execution of some of Richard’s closest supporters, and a harder line in Ireland. In October of 1641, a group of Catholic Irish landowners launched a coup d’etat which spiralled into a full-scale uprising; which drove out and even killed Protestant landowners while professing loyalty to Richard. This only deepened Parliament’s suspicions, and relations broke down. In January of 1642, Richard fled London with his family and supporters, and set up court in Oxford. The War of the Three Kingdoms had begun.   

The war would drag on for six brutal years, with conservative casualty estimates running into the hundreds of thousands, out of a total population of around seven and a half million. The war was fought in the Pike-and-Shot manner, with infantry armed with pikes and matchlock muskets, supported by a variety of cannon, and cavalry units generally armed with sword and pistols. The armies were small and amateurish affairs at first, with Parliament raising troops using the ’Trained Bands’ militia system, while the King had his Royal Guard regiments, and expanded his forces using Commissions or Array; essentially documents granting the bearer the right to raise troops. Much of the country tried to remain neutral, with some areas even raising ‘Clubmen’ to defend themselves from both sides. For the first two years, the Royalists had the best of the war in terms of set-piece battles, but their limited resources and logistical capacity made pressing any advantage difficult.   

Two factors would ultimately shift the war in Parliament‘s favour. One was the professionalisation of the Parliamentary forces, a process started and masterminded by Oliver Cromwell. A hardline Puritan politician, Cromwell believed that the secret to Royalist success was their devotion to the King, and that similar devotion was needed in order to win. To this effect, he gathered around him men who shared his convictions, and who were willing and able to reinvent themselves as professional soldiers; as he himself had done. When the existing Parliamentary forces were combined into the New Model Army in 1645, Cromwell was appointed as its second in command, under his old comrade Sir Thomas Fairfax. Held together by religious fervour and common purpose, and led by capable officers, the New Model began winning victories - notably at Naseby - and would ultimately destroy the Royalist forces.   

The second, and more malign, factor was an organisation known as the Poor Men. Starting out as just another band of religious radicals on the Parliamentary side, the Poor Men grew in number as the war went on, and gradually absorbed similar groups; such as the Fifth Monarchy Men. Their goal was not simply to force the King to respect the will of Parliament, but to create nothing less than a new Jerusalem; a perfect Christian state in which the only law was scripture and every man would be equal. Its leaders referred to themselves as the Conclave of Saints, or simply the Conclave, and relatively little is known about them. To many Parliamentarians their attitudes were too extreme, but they made themselves indispensable with their ability to organise ordinary people - especially the poor and outcast - to help and fund the war effort. This included policing ParliamentarIan territory, and persecuting anyone they knew - or merely suspected - to be Royalists.   

In 1648, with his forces in tatters, an exhausted and heartbroken Richard surrendered himself to a Parliamentary army at Southwell in Nottinghamshire. This might have brought an end to the war, but matters soon spiralled out of control. Parliamentary moderates sought to create a new system of government that retained the King in a limited role; while hardliners - backed and increasingly led by the Conclave - demanded the King’s death. Between the hardline attitudes of the army, and a campaign of intimidation by the Conclave, the decision was eventually taken to put James on trial. What followed as a confused and farcical affair, made all the worse by mobs of Poor Men outside and roaming the streets of London. Despite concerns over the legality of the trial, Richard was found guilty, and just enough MPs were either willing or sufficient intimidated to sign the death warrant.   

Richard accepted his fate with seeming equanimity. At his execution, on January 30th of 1649, before the Banqueting House at the Palace of Whitehall, he gave a speech forgiving those who had condemned him, and ascribing his fate to God’s will. His head was struck off with one blow, the crowd responding with a low groan.   

The Interregnum  (1649 –1660)[]

What followed was a brief period of constitutional government, followed by a decade of tyranny and chaos. In the months following Edward’s execution, Parliament attempted to govern England as an aristocratic republic. With Parliament serving as the legislature - its members elected by only three percent of the population - executive power lay with an appointed Council of State numbering forty-one members, among whom was Oliver Cromwell. Though the new government made an honest effort to restore order and rebuild, they had reckoned without the common people, and the ideas that had taken root among them. Of the radical factions that had emerged during the war or just after it, the most dangerous was the Poor Men; and its leaders, the Conclave.

The Conclave represented the culmination of political and social forces that had fermented under the surface of English and Scottish society ever since the Reformation. They regarded English society as ungodly and corrupt, and the late King and his predecessors as betrayers of the Reformation’s promise. Their ultimate goal was to turn England into a new Jerusalem, in which all men would be equal under God, and there would be no law but God’s law as laid down in scripture. Their support came not only from extreme Protestants, but from the poor and downtrodden; people for whom the promise of heaven on earth was a desperate but indispensable hope.

The growing power of the Conclave did not go without resistance; though it displayed a remarkable capacity to draw out and crush opposition; terrifying doubters into silence with threats of violence. It was this, as much as anything else, that drove the Scottish Covenanters to turn to the Royalist camp for help. Their former King, Charles I, had died in exile in the Netherlands; some said of despair at the failure of his cause, and grief at the death of Edward. So the Scots instead turned to his son, Prince Charles, who was married to Edward’s daughter Elizabeth. In February of 1649, a mere month after the execution of James, the Scots named the couple as King and Queen of Scotland.

In August of that year, Oliver Cromwell was despatched to Ireland, with orders to reconquer it for England. Driven by a hatred of Catholicism, conventional contempt for Irish culture, and a desire to avenge those killed in 1641, he would show the Irish little mercy. Many tens of thousands were killed or transported to the colonies as indentured labourers; while the massacres of Drogheda and Wexford in particular would mark him, in Irish eyes at least, as a man of blood. Though the Scottish crisis led to his recall in May of 1650, the war in Ireland would drag on for three more years; with modern estimates putting the death toll at between two and six hundred thousand, out of an Irish population of 1.4 million. Months later, Cromwell led an invasion of Scotland, defeating the Covenanters and forcing Charles and Elizabeth to flee into exile once again. By 1651, the whole of the British isles had been united under English rule.

While these events took place, the Covenant was expanding its influence. With the Poor Men ready to intimidate or kill opponents, and enjoying considerable sympathy in the New Model Army, the Conclave began to take over the Church of England; its thug squads driving away or killing priests and bishops who would not cooperate, or who were judged unfit, and replaced with Conclave members and supporters. When Parliament attempted to resist, MPs who voted against the Conclave were assaulted and killed in the streets of London. When Oliver Cromwell himself attempted to organise an armed reaction, he was arrested and subjected to a show trial; which some increasingly secretive Royalists regarded as poetic justice. Accused of a series of bizarre and ill-defined crimes, Cromwell retaliated with one last retort;

You call yourselves saints and righteous men! You who have made God a tyrant, Christ the jailor of mankind, and his word a lash upon the backs of honest men! You are no saints! I say you are no saints, nor righteous men! God save us from you! God save England from you!”

Oliver Cromwell, one of the most unlikely figures in Britannian history, was taken outside and unceremoniously shot.

Shortly afterwards, the Conclave dissolved Parliament and all governing and judicial institutions, and took formal control of the Church of England. The only title they allowed themselves was Bishop, on the principle that it had been used in the innocent early days of the Church, and that the common people understood it. Using the Church’s own infrastructure and bureaucracy - which was considerable - they went on to establish a ruthless theocracy that would endure for eight years. Though comparisons to totalitarianism are generally exaggerated, it was a regime inclined to police almost every aspect of life, and was willing to kill in order to get its way. Royalist plots were a constant concern, be they real or imagined, and whole villages might be burned to stamp them out.  Traditional celebrations and feast days were forbidden, as were activities such as gambling, attending theatres, wrestling, and horse-racing. Death penalty offenses included atheism, blasphemy, holding ‘obsceneopinions, and even adultery.

But no amount of tyranny or religious fanaticism could make the Conclave popular, or even competent. Blinded by fanaticism and groupthink, their response to resistance or difficulties was ever more horrifying displays of violence. By 1658 any pretence of popular consent was long gone, replaced with fear of the Poor Men; by this point a semi-formal militia made up of religious fanatics and self-serving thugs, as much interested in their own enrichment as in enforcing the will of heaven. Resistance was growing, both among the remaining nobility - whom the Conclave relied-upon to help them govern - and the army; by then a bloated, rebellious travesty of Cromwell’s New Model. But the popular symbol of resistance was John Dash, a Robin Hood or Ned Ludd-like figure who may or may not have existed, but whose legend nevertheless fired the popular imagination.

The Bishops responded in the only way they knew how, with further violence. But this only provoked more overt resistance, especially in Ireland - where the Conclave’s tyranny had been especially cruel - and Scotland, which could barely be controlled. By this time, the Scottish Bishops were dependent on the army, led in Scotland by Major General George Monck, to maintain even a semblance of order. Resistance within the army centred around a clique of republican officers led by Major General John Lambert. Their time finally came in October of 1659, when riots broke out in London; overwhelming the Poor Men and the military garrison. Several Bishops were killed, and those remaining fled to the Tower of London for protection; only to be captured and imprisoned by Lambert’s troops. Lambert appeased the crowds by publicly executing the Bishops, and then took control of the government; heading a ‘Committee of Safety’ made up of fellow officers and various hangers-on. The Committee promptly declared the Conclave abolished, and ordered the deaths of all Bishops, Poor Men, and anyone associated with them.

As the bloodbath spread across the British Isles, it was the turn of George Monck to enter the game. Originally a Royalist, he had served the Parliamentary cause out of self-preservation; carefully constructing an image of a blunt, honest, ale-swilling soldier’s soldier; a man too simple-minded to pose a threat. As the crisis broke, he revealed his true self; as a fine soldier and a shrewd political operator, determined to ensure that one tyranny was not replaced with another; and if that meant the return of a King, then so be it. On October 20th, 1659, he led his army south into England, crossing the River Tweed at Coldstream on January 2nd, 1660. Lambert’s forces melted away for lack of pay, and on February 3rd, Monck entered London without resistance.

Had he been so-inclined, he might have taken power for himself. Instead he reached out to Charles and Elizabeth, offering them the joint crown in return for a pledge to govern in cooperation with Parliament, and to take no revenge except against the Conclave - largely purged by this point - and surviving Regicides - themselves largely purged by the Conclave. After much squabbling between the forgiving Charles and the vengeful Elizabeth, a compromise was reached, and the sovereigns sailed home, arriving in England to a rapturous welcome. On 23rd April, they were jointly crowned as King and Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The Dual Monarchy[]

Charles II and Elizabeth II  (1660 – 1685/1690)

Charles II and Elizabeth II would prove to be one of the most powerful, and unlikely, couples ever to rule in the British Isles. Their personalities were complete opposites; Charles was charming and easygoing, Elizabeth driven and autocratic. Their differences would never be more apparent than in the early years of their joint reign, as they sought to rebuild their shattered kingdoms after years of war, tyranny, and chaos. Charles was the more forgiving of the pair, inclined to forgive those who had fought for Parliament and the Conclave - so long as they were not Bishops or Regicides - and to rule in cooperation with Parliament. Elizabeth was determined to reclaim absolute power, and use it to destroy every last trace of rebellion be it temporal or spiritual.

While Charles was able to oversee the recreation of Parliament, Elizabeth got much of her way in the establishment of new governing institutions. The Conclave’s system was utterly dismantled, and the Churches of England and Scotland stripped of all political and administrative authority; rendering them dependent on the crown. Local administration was rebuilt at the county level, with authority residing in appointed Lords Lieutenant, assisted by elected County Councils. Law enforcement was to be handled by county militias, essentially paramilitary police forces organised on military lines, controlled by the Lords Lieutenant in the name of the crown. A new Royal Guard, Royal Army, and Royal Navy were also created, with the crown having ultimate control. Elizabeth paid particular attention to security, forming a secret police to seek out and destroy enemies of the crown, without recourse to law.

Society’s response to the new order was for the most part enthusiastic. Throwing off the Conclave’s laws, which had become too extreme even for the Puritans, the public embraced a new era of prosperity, pleasure, artistic self-expression, and scientific enquiry.  The Restoration spawned whole new genres of art, music, theatre, literature, and even fashion. It would even provide England with a reborn 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 new zeitgeist of scientific and philosophical openness was reinforced by an attitude of religious tolerance; itself reinforced by bad memories of the Conclave and its bigotry. Catholics and Protestants were gradually emancipated, and Jews were allowed to settle in the country after centuries of banishment. The growth of trade also saw the further development of Britannia’s overseas colonies in North America, as well as Drakesland in Southern Africa.

This era was not without conflict, however. Conflict over sea trade led to two Anglo-Dutch Wars, firstly from 1665 to 1667, the second from 1672-1674. Both ended in embarrassing defeat for the dual monarchy, with the Dutch displaying their considerable naval prowess. June of 1667 would see one of the most embarrassing defeats in Britannian naval history, when a Dutch fleet under Admiral de Ruyter sailed up the River Thames, burned much of the English fleet at Chatham Harbour, and towed away two warships. It was this humiliation, as much as the enormous expenses involved, that brought the war to an end. Defeat nevertheless cast a long shadow, and would contribute to Charles and Elizabeth’s policy of alliance with France, under the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV. This alliance on turn would lead the dual monarchy into the second Anglo-Dutch War, which proved no more successful than the former.

But there was yet more conflict to be had, within the royal family itself. Despite six known pregnancies, Elizabeth bore Charles only two living children; a son, Edward, in 1665, and another son, Henry, in 1667. The early death of Edward in 1669 left Henry as the couple’s sole heir. The King’s brother, Prince James, Duke of York, was more fortunate; with his wife Anne Hyde bearing him two daughters; Mary in 1662, and Anne in 1665. Matters became more complicated in 1668, when James converted to Catholicism, and again in 1673, when he married the Italian Princess Mary of Modena. Despite the relatively tolerant zeitgeist, which may have emboldened him, there remained a hard core of anti-Catholicism that James’ conversion and marriage provoked. Despite the controversy, however, the mere existence of Henry barred James from the throne, and rendered his predilictions harmless.

Charles would die in 1685, seemingly of uraemia. Elizabeth would linger on for three more years, before dying - some say of exhaustion and loneliness - in 1688.

The Tripartite Monarchy[]

Henry X (1688 -1735)

It can truly be said that Henry X’s kingdom was born in fire; and for two main reasons. The first, and greatest, was the War of the Grand Alliance, which broke out in the same year as Henry’s accession to the throne. The other was the tragic circumstances that surrounded his accession, and a civil war that contributed in many ways, to the eventual sundering of Britannia.

Born in 1667, Henry’s first experience of tragedy came with the death of his older brother, Edward, in 1669. Though he was doubtless too young to understand it at the time, his promotion to heir to the throne put him in the firing line; not merely between the differing attitudes and world views of his parents, but those of his father and uncle also. From his affectionate and easygoing father, he gained an instinctive charm and a solid understanding of the psychological aspects of governance; in particular negotiation and manipulation. From his mother he learned the importance of strength, and the usefulness of fear. Like his uncle James before him, being torn between his parents bred in Henry a tendency to be charming and cautious; a tendency his mother encouraged to a certain extent, with the admonition that he must use every weapon at his disposal, and never show the slightest weakness.

As a child, he was by all accounts on good terms with his cousins, Mary and Anne, and with their parents. This connection would prove fateful, for it was through the York household that he came to know a certain John Churchill, a royal page and younger brother to Arabella Churchill, maid of honour to the Duchess, and maitresse en titre to the Duke, to whom she bore four children. Henry saw much of both siblings, and developed a certain fondness for them; a connection that John in particular would have good reason to be thankful for in the years to come.

But this bond with the York household would ultimately prove tragic, in the between Elizabeth’s death and Henry’s coronation. James had by this point become a powerful figure, the unofficial leader and protector of Britannia’s Catholic community, and the leader of a small but committed revanchist tendency within it. He was also on good terms with Louis XIV of France, and was regarded as Louis’ foremost representative in the Royal Court. The final straw came in June of 1688, when his wife gave birth to a son; whom James named James Francis Edward, and vowed to raise as a Catholic. The prince’s birth was regarded as a miracle by hardline Catholics, and not just because his father was aged fifty-five at the time. With a presumably Catholic son to succeed him, James now looked like a viable alternative to his nephew; not simply to revanchist Catholics and some other elements, but also to Louis XIV, whose territorial ambitions had left him isolated and on the brink of war.

So it came to the strange events of August 1688, mere days before the coronation. On August 10, Henry seemingly disappeared from the Palace of St James. Later that day, James turned up at the Palace of Westminster, where Parliament was sitting to debate an unrelated matter, and announced that the King had gone missing, and called upon Parliament to name him as regent. The resulting argument dragged on for several hours, but in the end the vote passed, leaving James in effective control of the kingdom. This state of affairs lasted only a few hours, before word came that Henry was alive and well at Windsor Castle; having apparently been kidnapped, escaped his kidnappers, and made his way there. James panicked and fled the city.

Precisely what happened on that August day remains unclear. The official account issued afterwards was that James was ultimately behind the kidnapping, with the backing of Louis XIV. But this has been challenged over the years, with much attention paid to the seeming incompetence of the kidnappers, and the ease of Henry’s escape; not to mention James’ willingness to overthrow and kill the nephew he apparently loved. Alternative explanations include an elaborate entrapment scheme by Henry , or by anti-Catholic or anti-French elements in his court, intended to discredit James. Another, and less fanciful, is that the kidnapping was nothing more than a prank that had gotten out of hand, or that the kidnappers were French agents acting without James’ knowledge. Either way, a train of events was in motion, and one that could not be stopped.

James emerged in France in January of 1689, where Louis XIV formally proclaimed him to be the rightful King of England, Scotland, and Ireland; in effect, promising to create a new tripartite monarchy with Ireland as an equal partner. By this point the War of the Grand Alliance, which pitted France against Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, and several other powers, had been underway for several months. If Louis was indeed involved in the plot, then his motive was almost certainly the establishment of a Catholic, pro-French regime in the British Isles, which would assist him against his enemies. Certainly, the failure of the plot forced Britannia towards the Grand Alliance, one of whose leading lights was William, Prince of Orange; who was also Princess Mary’s husband. In an attempt to remedy the situation, Louis provided James with money and several thousand troops, and sent him to Ireland; where he landed in March of 1689.

What followed was a brief but brutal civil war, as Irish, English, and Scots either rallied to James, remained loyal to Henry, or simply tried to survive. The dividing lines proved tangled, with nationality and religion proving to be of equal, and intertwined, importance. James’ promises to treat Ireland as an equal partner and restore confiscated lands won over many of the upper classes, regardless of nationality, while the Catholic Irish peasantry was won over by his promises of religious toleration. Yet for all that, one of the classes most victimized by his faction were the Catholic ‘Old English’ nobles and gentry, who leaned towards James due to his religion, but were assaulted by his followers for being of English descent. A further complication was Charles and Elizabeth’s attempts to restore confiscated lands, which had gotten bogged down in a cavalcade of court cases that kept the Dublin magistrates busy for many years. Winners and losers chose their sides, with the losers generally favouring James and the winners generally favouring Henry.

An enraged Henry had to be gently dissuaded from going to Ireland himself, as the situation in England and Scotland remained uncertain. Instead, he was persuaded to send an army under the command of the Duke of Schomberg, a German general on loan from his new ally, the Prince of Orange. Schomberg landed in August, and set about retaking much of the north, but his forces became bogged down due to lack of supplies. With his position at home appearing more stable, Henry intervened in person, landing at Carrickfergus in June of 1690 with additional troops and supplies. James retreated south, establishing defensive positions along the River Boyne near Drogheda. After a brief clash, James retreated further, and eventually fled to France from Kinsale, abandoning his supporters. The fall of Limerick, after a long siege, marked the end of the conflict.

Perhaps hoping for reconciliation, Henry had himself crowned King of Ireland in Dublin, matching James’ promise to treat Ireland as an equal partner. He also gave a choice to James’ remaining supporters; swear allegiance to him, or go into exile. Many tens of thousands of Irish soldiers took the latter option, going on to serve as units or individuals in European armies, in what history would call the Flight of the Wild Geese. For the rest, Henry was constrained by the need to reward those Irish who had served him, as well as to appease the paranoia of the Irish Protestants. As a result, the primary beneficiaries of his land reforms were Protestants, as well as the Catholic Old English who had rallied to him. Other Catholic beneficiaries were his Irish soldiers, who were granted lands in Roman-style colonies. Ireland would remain quiet for a time, but a bitter seed had been sown.

Henry returned home in triumph, his rule unchallenged; though his uncle and his supporters, known as Jacobites, lingered on in France. Nevertheless, Henry had been shaken by the past two years, and his trust would never again come easily. He repaid William of Orange with assistance in the War of the Grand Alliance, and profited by extracting formal recognition of his kingship from Louis XIV in the Treaty of Ryswick. In the years of peace that followed, Henry set about strengthening his own power at home, and the Tripartite Monarchy’s power overseas. To do so, he found it necessary to formalise and expand the civil service; providing him with the army of bureaucrats he needed in order to carry out his policies. But as with his contemporaries, this left him with the problem of how to pay for it. Fearful of annoying his subjects by raising taxes, Henry got around the problem in two ways. The first was to establish the Royal Bank of Britannia - as his tripartite kingdom was sometimes known - as a national bank on the Dutch model, personally backstopping it with a deposit of one hundred thousand pounds. His further policy was to take out foreign loans with the Royal Bank as their guarantor. Throughout his reign he made it a point of personal and national honour to never miss a payment.

But he would not have time to repair his kingdom’s finances before war broke out once again. The cause was the death of Charles II of Spain in December of 1700, and his bequest of his crown - and Spain’s vast empire - to Philippe of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV. When Louis formally backed his grandson’s claim, war became inevitable. The war was a long-winded and costly affair, dragging on until 1714, with Britannia‘s main successes being the victories of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, at Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet. Britannia ultimately emerged as the dominant naval and commercial power in Europe, and gained new holdings in North America; a shadow of things to come. Henry was himself unhappy with the outcome, and the enormous financial outlays the war had required; including the subsidies needed to keep their allies on side.

His response was a full-scale revamping of the army and navy, building on the advice of serving officers; especially Marlborough. Marlborough had been a close associate of Prince James, and his patron’s treason had gotten him thrown in prison as a security risk. It was Henry, who had known Marlborough from his childhood, who saved his career, and life, from an ignominious end; having him transferred to more comfortable confinement in the Tower of London, then allowing him to plead his case; upon which Henry allowed him to kiss hands and be restored to favour. Henry would have good reason to be glad of his decision, for Marlborough would prove one of the finest generals in Britannian history, and a staunchly loyal servant.

In 1715, the Jacobites would return to torment him once again; in the person of his cousin, James Francis Edward. Following the death of his father, James had become the leader and figurehead of the Jacobite cause. The initial rising began in the highlands of Scotland under the Earl of Mar, though his army never numbered more than a few thousand, and succeeded largely due to a lack of organised resistance. James himself arrived in 1716, only to learn that his followers had been defeated at the Battles of Sherrifmuir and Preston; after which he returned to France, only to find his patron Louis XIV dead, and his cause a political embarrassment. Another uprising broke out in 1719, only to be crushed at the Battle of Glenshiel.

Henry would die in 1735, after a long and relatively successful reign. He is not well remembered outside of Britannia, and even then primarily as a builder and organiser, whose efforts set his kingdom on a path to greatness.

Edward VI (1735 – 1769)

Unlike his father, Edward VI inherited both a prosperous kingdom and a stable throne. As a child his education had focussed heavily on military matters, driven by a father who had dreamed of military glory, yet been repeatedly disappointed. This training was not as harsh as it might have been, softened as it was by the able mentorship of the Duke of Marlborough; one of the few whom Henry had trusted sufficiently with such a responsibility. Edward was described by those who saw him as a stern and disciplined child, and in manhood as blunt, soldierly, and somewhat over-honest. He valued loyalty in his friends and servants, but was ruthless enough not to let it outweigh ability or forgive malefaction.

As King, one of his first acts had been to expand his father‘s programme of military reform; not only expanding the size and capability of the army and navy, but finally and formally bringing all forces under the control of the Ministry of War in London; with the sole exception being the Royal Guards, which remained under his direct command. All English, Scottish, and Irish regiments were organised and numbered under a single system, with certain distinctions being granted to acknowledge their origins. This was accepted without overt complaint for the most part, but it caused concern in some quarters. He also began pushing a policy of union, with a view of uniting all three of his kingdoms into a single state, which he intended to name Britannia.

For the moment, however, Edward dreamed of military glory; and his chance would soon come. In 1739, a breakdown in relations with Spain led to an outbreak of hostilities, but said war would soon be absorbed into a much broader conflict. The cause was the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, who left his domain to his daughter, Maria Theresa of Austria. Though Salic Law would ordinarily have barred her from inheriting, her rights were protected by the 1713 Pragmatic Sanction, in which the Holy Roman and Habsburg domains, along with several foreign powers, all agreed to back her claim. In 1740, France, Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony all contested her claim, and Maria Theresa would have to fight for her throne. Appalled by such perfidy, and fearing an upset of the balance of power, Edward had little trouble persuading Parliament to support him in entering the war on Austria’s side.

But if it was military glory he wanted, Edward was doomed once again to be disappointed. The war, which dragged on until 1748, saw little in the way of Britannian success. His hastily-expanded army did not perform half as well as expected, winning a victory at Dettingen, but losing at Fontenoy. Some success was had in North America, but this was outweighed by embarrassments in India. The navy won few if any major engagements, but did succeed in maintaining a naval blockade against France; which proved a useful bargaining chip.

A major factor was the 1745 Jacobite Rising, in which Charles Edward Stuart, son of James Francis Edward and grandson of Prince James, landed in Scotland with a handful of supporters and raised an army of highlanders. With these, he succeeded in overrunning most of Scotland, before marching into England and reaching as far as Derby. His success was, as much as anything else, down to a lack of military resources available to oppose him. But upon learning of a major Britannian force gathered at London, and Britannian troops returning from Flanders, Charles retreated into Scotland; only to be chased down and defeated at the Battle of Culloden. His defeat marked the effective end of the Jacobite cause as a military threat to the House of Tudor-Stuart.

The Peace of Aix la Chappelle, which ended a bloody and senseless war, marked a major diplomatic shift for Britannia. Disillusioned by Maria Theresa’s difficulties, Edward concluded that Austria could no longer serve as a counter to France, and sought more likely allies elsewhere; notably Prussia, which had won glory under the leadership of King Frederick II. To this effect, Edward helped conclude the peace by forcing Maria Theresa to sign over Silesia, which Frederick had taken by force. Understandably embittered at this treatment, Maria Theresa would respond by forming a new triple alliance with France and Russia several years later.

Edward was frustrated, but all was not as bad as it appeared. For all it’s lack of flashy victories, the navy had proven itself supremely useful; subjecting France to a ruinous blockade, and maintaining near total dominance of the oceans throughout the war. Having seen for himself that his soldiers could fight, Edward turned his anger on their officers; and there was plenty to be angry about. Regiments were to a considerable degree the property of their colonels, and officers purchased their commissions. In some cases, officers had their commissions purchased for them while in childhood, allowing them to advance to the highest ranks at the earliest possible age, without training or experience of any kind. Edward responded with a new system of seniority, setting the minimum service age for an officer at thirteen, and requiring each officer to serve a minimum number of years in each rank before being promoted. Forced to compromise by political resistance, he left the purchase system in place.

His reforms bore fruit in 1756, with the outbreak of the Seven Years War. The ultimate cause was a breakdown in relations between Britannia and France, itself due to colonial rivalry and unresolved issues left over from the previous war. Thanks to his shabby treatment of Austria, Edward found himself facing France, Austria, and Russia, with only Prussia, Portugal, and the German state of Hanover to assist him. As such, and under the influence of several of his ministers, notably William Pitt, Edward settled on a naval strategy, with his ground efforts centred in North America. This conflict would see France lose many of its American colonies, notably Quebec, and would make the name of a colonial British officer by the name of George Washington. It also gave Britannia an imperial martyr in the person of James Wolfe, the general who masterminded the conquest of Quebec, only to be killed in the final battle.

In Europe, Britannia sent troops to assist Frederick, but crushed as he was between the armies of Russia, Austria, and Sweden, his situation was by 1762 seemingly impossible. Hoping to save Frederick from himself, Edward threatened to cut off his subsidies unless he came to terms. This left Frederick embittered, but fate intervened with the death of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, and the accession of her nephew, Peter III. An eccentric and bewildering character, and a great admirer of Frederick, Peter promptly switched sides; restoring the territories he had occupied to Prussian control, and helping to mediate a truce with Sweden. This bought Frederick enough time to raise a new army, and drive the Austrians back. By 1763, the triple alliance powers were exhausted and near-bankrupt, Peter III had been overthrown by his wife, the Empress Catherine, and Prussia itself was all but ruined. The war was ended with a series of treaties, leaving Britannia riding high as a mighty power, and Prussia successful but damaged. But perhaps the worst downside for Britannia was the envy and suspicion it attracted from all quarters; both for its power and for its conduct.

Edward died six years later in 1769, still flush with the glory he had yearned for. Future generations would remember him as a great warrior king, and as the man who laid the foundations for the Holy Empire of Britannia.

 William III (1769 – 1792)

With Britannia resting on its laurels after the victories of the Seven Years War, William III took the throne with minimal fuss and no real challenge. Throughout his childhood, Britannia had suffered embarrassment and disappointment, only to finally rise to glory. Despite this, William was not the most warlike of characters; preferring cultural and intellectual pursuits. This had led to strained relations with his father, who had wanted a suitably soldierly and warlike son to succeed him. But with his death in 1762, William was free to reign as he wished.

The first great challenge of his reign was the state of the Kingdom’s finances. Two major wars, and high military spending, had put paid to his grandfather’s policy of fiscal probity, and Britannia was badly in debt. Not daring to cut back on military spending, William’s only option was to raise taxes, but on whom? Months of careful auditing and information gathering led him to a clear but supremely difficult choice. Should he levy a land tax, which would fall on the vast estates of the landed nobility? Or should he squeeze the artisan and merchant classes, as his father had already done? To squeeze the nobles risked provoking political resistance and perhaps even rebellion, not to mention disrupting food production, but to squeeze the artisans and merchants meant squeezing the productive economy, and might drive business elsewhere. Under the influence of his ministers and close courtiers, almost all of them nobles, he decided on the latter policy.

The effects of this policy were multifarious, but were most notable in the colonies; specifically North America and Drakesland. Both were accustomed to a high degree of autonomy and minimal taxation, and both were seen as lands of opportunity, in which the common man could prosper by honest effort. Both had also developed strong identities of their own; with Drakesland seeing itself as the vanguard of civilisation of order in a wild and dangerous land, and America seeing itself as a land of freedom and prosperity. Perhaps inevitably, this led both colonies to grow away from the motherland, in which the culture and values of the landed aristocracy predominated. Visitors from both colonies complained of a two-faced world, in which sumptuous wealth coexisted with dire poverty, and high civilisation with ruthless cruelty. Among this critical visitors was a certain Ricardo le Bretan, visiting in 1771 to be confirmed as Baron Tildrum. Of more immediate interest, and a greater cause of resentment, were attempts by the Court of St James to bring the colonies more firmly under its control.

In America, this manifested as a growing desire for autonomy, and perhaps even independence. Drakesland was to some attempt protected from central government power-grabs by its long-standing status as a ‘Dominion’, but America had nothing remotely similar. Matters came to a head when Charles sought to bring colonial taxation in line with that of Britannia, 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. Even otherwise loyal colonists increasingly favoured the creation of a single colonial assembly - in essence, an American Parliament - that would handle all legislative matters in America, and have direct access to the King. But the Parliament in Westminster would have none of it, and William was not inclined to go against them.

Matters reached a head in December of 1773, when citizens of the port of Boston, Massachusetts, boarded a merchant ship and threw its cargo of tea into the 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. 

Washington’s Rebellion (1774 - 1784)

The conflict that came to be known as Washington’s Rebellion dragged on for ten years. The name itself came from the rebellion’s most famous commander, a certain George Washington. Born in Virginia in 1732, he had proven himself a capable soldier in his youth, though he had spent much of his subsequent life as landowner and politician. It was his youthful military experience that won him command of the Continental Army in June of 1775, along with a reputation for trustworthiness and self-control. He quickly imposed order on the hastily-raised Continental Army, attracting resentment in some quarters for imposing - at Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion - a code of military discipline that included flogging; though his approach was noticeably milder than that of the Royal Army. His first great success, in March of 1776, was the capture of Boston, Massachusetts; in which he is remembered for the curious gesture of ordering smallpox vaccinations for the entire population.

more to come

 Elizabeth III (1792 - 1813)

The Holy Empire of Britannia[]

 

89th Emperor Ricardo ‘the founder’ (1813 - 1821)  

90th Emperor Henry ‘the Cunning’ (1821 -1835) 

 91st Emperor Alexander la Britannia (1835 - 1855)

 92nd Emperor Aurelian li Britannia (1855 - 1861)                      

North-South War (1861-1869)

 93rd Empress Claire li Britannia (1869 - 1891)

 94th Emperor Lothar li Britannia (1891 - 1919)

Maximillian rui Britannia (1919 - 1933)

95th Emperor Reinhard da Britannia (1933 - 1940)

96th Emperor Theseus el Britannia (1940 - 1968)

97th Emperor Valerian mel Britannia (1968 - 1989) 

Darien sui Britannia     (1989 –1998) 

 98th Emperor Charles zi Britannia                

More to Come

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