THE WORLD - EUROPE
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A largely Muslim state which split away from the Holy Roman Empire in a nationalist uprising supported by the Ottoman Socialist Ummah during the Anti-Naturalist revolution of 1894, it consists of only the northern part of real world Albania, with the rest being within the OSU. Strongly allied with the OSU, it is the northernmost and apart from the OSU itself only European member of the Alexandrian Concord. Its capital is the city of Scutari [Shkodër] and it has a government very similar to that of the OSU itself.
A state which split away from the Holy Roman Empire in a (provoked) nationalist uprising supported by Prussia.
A Comunidade Portuguese (The Portuguese Commonwealth)
The Comunidade Portuguese was formed in 1895 out of a wide range of politcal reforms to the Portuguese Empire following the Second Societal Wars. It is closely aligned with the Union, and has been for a long time, though it is not and shows no desire to become a part of the Union. Its colonies, and Brazil in particular, are fully represented parts of the Comunidade.
The second power in the Northern System, essentially a Russian satellite, the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway is a fairly poor and highly militarised nation. Iceland is an intrinsic part of the Kingdom, and Denmark also has a fairly extensive colonial empire, including the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, the Danish Virgin Islands and part of Antarctica.
A state within the Union formed when what was Britain, one of the three founding states of the Union, devolved into its four constituent nations following protests and unrest from their inhabitants.
England remains a Parliamentary democracy run from the Houses of Parliament in London, and with elections held at, at most, every six years. Because of the splitting off of Scotland, Wales and Ireland the number of members of the Houses of Commons and Lords is significantly lower than in the real world.
When in England the monarch resides in St James' Palace in central London. The oldest and least of the English Royal Palaces, it was the only one to remain in hands of the Monarch after the Economic Crisis of the 1830s, when economic necessity forces the other palaces in London (Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace) to be sold.
In addition to this, there is a royal residence at Windsor Castle to the west of London. This is a much lesser royal residence than is the case in the real world, its restoration having been halted partway through by the Economic Crisis, which also led to most of the grounds being sold off, so that it is much more surrounded by buildings than is the case in the real world. The interrupted restoration means that Windsor Castle is a mixture of picturesque ruins and restored buildings in a Neoclassical style [rather than the Neo-Gothic style used in the real world]. It also has discrete bunkers and defences arising from its use as a refuge for the Royal Family during the Societal Wars.
England retains the former British national anthem, 'God Save the Queen' (or King, as appropriate).
An independent buffer state between Sweden and the Russian Empire, only very recently created following the war with Sweden and thus in a rather disorganised state.
Because it has become, and remained, more powerful then in the real world, France has become larger and more industrialised.
The capital of France is the city of Versailles, adjacent to Paris. Versailles itself is centred on the Palace of Versailles, the main dwelling place of the King. It is a large city, though not as large as Paris, and merges with Paris on its north-eastern edge. The Palace is the largest in the world, and has been added to and modified periodically for centuries, most often when a new King comes to the throne.
Paris has not been rebuilt in the same way as in the real world, for social control. However, it was rebuilt to some extent, as were many major cities, when the need for modern sanitation became impossible to ignore. Parts of it have also been rebuilt to allow access for modern vehicles and to add public transport systems. Of course, there is no equivalent of the Eiffel Tower here, though there are other monuments of many kinds.
There are Universities of both Paris and Versailles; that of the latter is smaller, but more highly regarded, and better funded, due to its proximity to the centre of French power.
New French colonies and ones where a great deal of unrest is taking place are usually ruled by a military governor. Those that are more developed and peaceful are ruled by French nobles as parts of France, forming what is known as France-Outre-Mer [Overseas France]. The French Empire is also allied with the independent French-descended nation of Quebec, though this alliance has become rather strained since the 1994 French air strike against 'rogue elements' of the governments of Quebec, Columbia and Louisiana that were conducting a programme of genetic engineering on human beings.
The French government itself, and its ministries, resides in Paris. In formal terms it is an absolutist system with most of the power resting in the hands of the King (France's Salic Law still applies, so only men can inherit the throne), who is of the House of Bourbon. However, since the reforms made under the guidance of Joseph Francois Dupleix in 1767, and the concessions made in 1833 in the wake of the Economic Collapse the French government has effectively become an informal constitutional monarchy. However, it is still quite dictatorial, although with many social and political reforms and changes over time - such as the abolition of feudalism in 1833 - which have benefited the general populace.
Although the King of France is nominally an absolute monarch, in reality one of the long-established principles of the French monarchy is that the king cannot act without the advice of his council, and that the king should make decisions only after 'good and careful deliberation'. In general the Kings of France have held to this principle, and very rarely go against the advice of their councils [much as in the real world where, for example, Louis XIV only went against the advice of his council six times in a 72 year reign].
Although in no sense a democracy, the Societal Wars very much drove home the realisation that the government of France rules on the sufferance of the people of France. As such the French government attempts to at least consider the views of the French people when making decisions. This is done by a process of continuous anonymous opinion polling that samples the views of people across the French Empire and feed the results back to the government for analysis and, possibly, action.
France has been run according to the tenets of Physiocracy and its successor philosophies since the eighteenth century. Physiocracy is an economic theory that considers that the wealth of nations is derived solely from agriculture that originated in France in the eighteenth century and was perhaps the first well-developed theory of economics. The Physiocrats dislike cities for their artificiality and instead praise more natural styles of living, celebrating farmers in particular. They see the true wealth of a nation as being determined by the surplus of agricultural production over and above that needed support agriculture itself by feeding farm labourers and so on. Other forms of economic activity, such as industry and manufacturing, are viewed as taking this surplus agricultural production and transforming it into new products. While these manufacturers and other non agricultural workers may be useful, they are seen as 'sterile' in that their income derives ultimately not from their own work, but from the surplus production of the agricultural sector. Physiocracy is strongly opposed to mercantilism (which emphasises the trade of goods between countries), as it views the peasant society as the economic foundation of a nations wealth.
The main modification to the French system has been the development, in time, of what is known as the Bipodiste system, which sees both agriculture and industry alike as essential for the well-being of the state.
Because of the influence of the Physiocrats in the French government, and despite the growth of the influence of the Bipodistes, France was slower in industrialising than other nations, such as the Union.
The French absolutist system has led to a somewhat strange division of transportation between the public and private sectors. French trains are nationalised, efficient and eco-friendly. Private transport, on the other hand, tends to be (among the common people at least) either velos [bicycles] or powered by animals as this is what the King and government considers best for people. So in the country there are velos or animal-drawn vehicles bringing people to and from stations where they board efficient and sophisticated electric trains. Likewise there are efficient public transport systems in most French cities. However, machine-powered vehicles are common there for mess-reduction reasons, although velos tend to be widely used as well. Most French roads are quite good, partly because they are used for military purposes.
The overall greater Paris region in this world - which includes Versailles - has a population of some six million people [considerably smaller than the real world, where it has some twelve million people]. Even taking this into account it covers a significantly smaller area than the Paris of the real world. This is a side effect of the French laws on land usage, which, given the Physiocratic slant of the French government, are heavily biased towards agriculture and the preserving of the countryside over industry and urbanisation. This has strongly limited urbanisation and the outward growth of cities for a very long time. This in turn has driven the growth of skyscrapers in most French cities, so that all French cities have many more tall buildings than in the real world. Another effect of French government policy has been to spread the growth of cities across France rather than concentrating it in a few places, so that there are more large towns and cities (with skyscrapers) but no very large ones as is the case in many other nations. The same effect is seen across the French Empire. With rising populations and increasing problems from climate change, local and increasingly regional governments within the French Empire have begun to mandate the creation of vertical farms within cities, either purpose-built or via the full or partial conversion of existing structures. This is intended to increase the self-sufficiency of cities and reduce the amount of food transportation required.
Because there was no French Revolution, French cuisine gained its world-wide reputation later than in the real world. French cuisine has absorbed many Indian influences, as has French fashion and style.
Also because of the lack of a French Revolution in this world, the Bastille still exists within Paris. No longer a prison, since the Societal Wars it has instead been used as a highly secure repository for official documents of all kinds.
France still has its Crown Jewels, which are kept very securely in Versailles. They are not generally visible to the public, only being used for state occasions. The French Crown Jewels are not as extensive as they have been in the past; a large fraction of them were sold during the Economic Crisis, and some were stolen during the Societal Wars. The remaining jewels include the French Blue, the Regent Diamond and the Koh-i-Noor.
There is a long-term fashion in France for Indian styles in terms of food, architecture and so on, as people working there send or bring ideas home.
Related to this, there is a significant Indian-descended minority in France and across its Empire, with 'India-towns' in many cities. Because of the French holdings in the rest of the world there are also significant numbers of Africa-, China- and Japan-towns across the French empire.
Because of the dominance of France in much of the world, the structure of many of its governments, particularly those in the more heavily French-influenced parts of the world such as India, show significant French influence in terms of their structure and functions [much as in the real world many former British possessions have governments with structures influenced by that of Britain], though of course the names of the different councils and so on within the government may vary.
The Mediterranean Sea is a Franco-Ottoman lake.
There are a number of national and local newspapers in France. The most popular of these include:
The French currency is the Livre. This relates to other units of currency as follows: One Louis d'Or is four Ecus or 24 Livres or 480 Sols or 1960 Liard or 5880 Denier.
The flag of France consists of a royal blue field with three golden fleur-de-lis placed on it in an inverted triangle known as the 'France Modern'; this is the flag used by France since 1365.
The flag of the French monarch is of an identical design, but with the colour of the field being the lighter blue known as Bleu de France, a colour that has traditionally represented France.
Some German states are little more than buffers between the Union, France and the Holy Roman Empire. Some are corporate states, with a feudalistic system in which companies replace nobles as feudal lords [not unlike the works of Adam Müller in the real world].
One of three founding states of the Union, and the location of its centre of government. It has been a state separate from Britain (with whom it was in personal union), within the Union, since the Salic Crisis of 1889.
Since the union of the thrones of Britain, Hanover and Prussia in 1801, Hanover no longer has a Viceroy who represents the British monarch, but instead its own branch of the Hanover-Hohenzollern Dynasty. These reside in the Herrenhausen Castle in the north-west of the city of Hanover. Although called a castle, having been rebuilt in the nineteenth century it is in reality a luxurious palace, surrounded by extensive gardens, much of which are open to the public. [This differs from the real world where the castle was destroying by bombing in WWII.]
The city of Hanover, the political centre of the Union, is picturesque and dotted with dignified buildings in a number of styles, in particular of the architects Halder, Blum, and Yancy. It has the fewest Mercriks of any major city in the Union outside of Georgesland [what in the real world is the eastern tip of New Guinea, the island of New Britain, New Ireland and other smaller islands in that region].
Hanover adopted a more democratic system after the Economic Collapse of 1831, with democratic government and a constitutional monarchy. The government - the Volksvertretung - has a structure loosely based on the House of Commons and House of Lords of the British Parliament with a lower house, the Landtag and an upper house, the Diet. It meets in the Volksvertretunghaus [Parliament House], located on the banks of the River Leine to the south-east of Herrenhausen Castle. Most of the other departments of the Hanoverian government are also located in this area of the city.
The payments made by the Union government and civil service for services in Hanover make up a significant fraction of the national income of Hanover itself.
The Holy Roman Empire is a mass of different peoples, but bureaucratic after reforms in the 18th century and the Naturalist revolution and counter-revolution of the late nineteenth century. In recent decades it has become revitalised by a perceived need for strength and unity against the Union on one side, the OSU on another and Russia on yet another.
Caught in the middle of the various powers, the Holy Roman Empire allies as survival requires.
Venice is part of the Holy Roman Empire.
A state within the Union formed when what was Britain, one of the three founding states of the Union, devolved into its four constituent nations following protests and unrest from their inhabitants.
The Irish government meets in the Irish Houses of Parliament in Dublin [which are much as in the real world, though with Ireland becoming a state within the Union they have come back into use as governmental buildings]. Divided between the Irish Houses of Commons and Lords, the Irish government functions much as the English government does. Its head is the Prime Minister.
The branch of the Hanover-Hohenzollern Dynasty which resides in Ireland live in the former Viceregal Lodge, and this is also where the monarch and other important visitors to Ireland stay when they visit the country.
Because of the different history of the country in this world the national anthem of Ireland is different to that of the real world.
La Manche (The English Channel)
Although not a country, La Manche (or the English Channel as it is also known), as the waterway that forms the boundary between the two most powerful nations in the world, is a significant region in its own right.
Because of the long-standing differences between France and the Union, La Manche is a highly militarised region, but also one through which a great deal of trade flows, both in and out of the North Sea and to a lesser extent between France and Union. This latter trans-Manche trade is highly regulated, with strong customs searches and a high level of bureaucracy at ports involved in it. Other trade follows strict French and Union shipping lanes through the southern and northern waters of La Manche with a buffer zone between them.
There are extensive coastal defences along both sides of La Manche dating back to the late eighteenth century. Originally these were just forts [not unlike real world Martello Towers] and naval bases with their associated communication and transport systems. Since then they have expended to include long-range artillery, military skyports, rocket batteries, submarine docks, sea forts and so on.
Since their development tethered observation balloons have been moored as high above each side as is practical to enable them to see as deeply as possible into each others territory. In the modern day these are automated platforms moored at very high altitudes equipped with the latest sensor systems. In times of Franco-Union tension (definitely not as a matter of course) some of these platforms are fitted with weapons in the form of sky-to-ground rockets of various kinds.
On each side of La Manche, the cities of Calais and Dover are both home to large number of their respective military, as well as supporting facilities and control centres. Both cities do contain civilian port facilities, but these are very much subordinate the military ports.
There is, of course, no equivalent of the Channel Tunnel in this world.
The southernmost of the three states on the Italian peninsula, consisting of the end of the Italian peninsula and the island of Sicily.
The Kingdom of Sardinia (Savoy)
The northernmost of the three states on the Italian peninsula, consisting of the northern end of the Italian peninsula, though despite its name, not the island of Sardinia, which is part of the Kingdom of France. Ruled by the ageing and otherwise childless King Victor Amadeus VII of Savoy, the Kingdom of Sardinia is home to the first cloned human being, the rather defective heir to the throne, Prince Charles Albert. Because of its relatively small size and close proximity to France, the Kingdom of Sardinia follows the lead of France in most of its foreign and military affairs, something that, along with the loss of Sardinia through bloodless diplomacy (accompanied by intense French diplomatic pressure) in 1859, makes the government unpopular with a significant number of its people and that has inevitably led to its being more than a little repressive of its people. Because of this, although there are a number of free trade agreements between France and Savoy, there also remain strict border controls on the Savoyard side of the border.
The flag of the Savoy is the same as that of the real world Kingdom of Savoy, consisting of a royal blue field with a red canton (a rectangle in the top corner of the hoist side of the flag) on which is a white cross.
The Dutch are a minor European power caught in the middle of the various greater powers, particularly France and the Union. Through necessity they ally with others as survival requires. Their empire is extensive, but not particularly powerful. Because of the Dutch holdings across the world, there are significant numbers of Indies- [Indonesian] and Japan-towns across the Dutch empire.
The Netherlands are a federal republic made up of the original seven provinces of the European Netherlands, plus the newer 'foreign' provinces of Dutch Guyana, Cape Colony and the Nederlands-Indie. [Without the French Revolution it is an evolution of the Dutch Republic rather than the result of its overthrow and the rebuilding of the Dutch state.]
The Netherlands as a whole are governed by the Staten-Generaal [States-General], consisting of two representatives from each of the Dutch provinces (which do not include the other Dutch colonies beyond the three listed above), plus their advisors.
The Staten-Generaal of the Netherlands is run from the Binnenhof in the Dutch capital city of The Hague [as in the real world]. The provincial governments are based in their respectively provincial capitals.
Other than defence, trade and diplomacy with the outside world, the provinces of the Netherlands have control over their own internal affairs. However, the need for the Netherlands to remain strong in the face threats from external powers means that they generally cooperate well in their mutual, and the national, interest.
The Dutch head of state is the President of the Staten-Generaal, who also acts as the Chair of the Staten-Generaal. The Netherlands have not had a Stadtholder [semi-monarch from the House of Orange] since the end of the eighteenth century when the Dutch Patriots forced them into exile.
All Dutch provinces are representative democracies, their local governments and representatives to the Staten-Generaal elected from the people of that province. In the European provinces, Dutch Guyana and Cape Colony this consists of the entire adult population. The franchise is much more limited in the Nederlands-Indie.
The European Dutch view the Dutch from Dutch Guyana, Cape Colony and the Nederlands-Indie as rather odd and foreign. As such, there is sometimes friction between the bloc of European provinces, and the 'foreign' bloc.
The borders of the Netherlands are fortified, especially the southern border with France [which runs roughly east-west through the middle of what is Belgium in the real world], but these are generally quite old and weak compared to the strength of the French military. As such, they are of only nominal defensive value.
Because the Dutch military is relatively weak, maintaining control of their Empire, particularly an area as large as their major colony of the Nederlands-Indie, is often difficult. For this reason mercenaries, usually Zululanders, are often used by Dutch colonial governments.
Because of its location the Netherlands is a major facilitator of Franco-Union trade in mainland Europe.
With no Napoleonic Wars, the Dutch still use patronymic surnames.
The flag of the Netherlands is a horizontal red, white and pale blue tricolour, the Statenvlag, on which is a red shield containing a golden lion, the symbol of the Stadtholder. [This is similar to the Dutch flag of the real world, but with a somewhat different colour scheme.]
The Northern System was founded by Russia as a means of protecting Russia's western frontier. It consists of an alliance of Russia with the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway (which also includes Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands). Russia also tried to include Prussia [as in the real world] but Prussia's close links to Britain precluded this.
Russia and the Northern System are the only nations in the world to officially use the Rational system of measurements introduced as part of UER.
The Northern System has evolved a flag consisting of a red field with narrow blue and white bands at top and bottom.
The Ottoman Socialist Ummah (the OSU)
The Osmanlı Sosyalist Ümmet (Ottoman Socialist Ummah) [Ummah means Community] is one of the more powerful second-ranked nations of the world, successfully combining Socialism and Islam to make the former Ottoman Empire one of the most progressive nations of the world. Smarting from her losses against Russia in the 19th century, a movement to reform the Ottoman Empire succeeded in gaining power. In the 'Jerusalem Renaissance' the New Empire Movement pushed through a crash modernisation programme and in thirty years industrialised the Ottoman Empire [in a similar manner to the real world Mieji Restoration in Japan], with considerable help from Europe in doing so.
The OSU is a constitutional monarchy with a two-house parliament and its capital at Istanbul. Elements of it are based on the British system of government. The OSU is a founding member and dominant partner in the Alexandrian Concord.
The lower house of the OSU government is the Council of Beys, made up of representatives elected from the different sanjaks [districts] of the Ummah. Each sanjak forms part of an eyalet [province], and is subdivided into a number of kazas [sub-districts]. Elections to the Council of Beys are held every ten years, but members can only serve once. The OSU has universal suffrage from the age of twenty-one.
Above this is the Council of Askeri, made up of those elected into the position by the Council of Beys. Members of this Council, who are elected for life, can come from the Council of Beys or from outside, and often consist of the nobility, academics, industrialists and so on.
The Council of Askeri in turn select the eleven Viziers of the Divan, the Ummah Council, who make up the cabinet of the OSU. Heading the Divan is the Grand Vizier, the Ottoman prime minister, whom the Council of Beys also selects. The Council of Beys and/or the Council of Askeri can vote to dismiss members of the Divan.
The Sultan remains, and is (still) of the Osmanli Dynasty, but is a constitutional monarch. Likewise the Ottoman nobility are ceremonial with no real power.
The main official residence of the Sultan is the Topkapi Palace in the capital of Istanbul. In reality the royal family (now with a much reduced harem and a defined order of succession) inhabits only part of the Palace, the rest being used by the Council of Beys, Council of Askeri, Ummah Council and the office of the Grand Vizier.
Separate from the Ottoman government, the various Ministries of the Ummah located close to the Topkapi Palace handle the day to day running of the state, led by their various Ministers.
The Sultan has a number of other palaces scattered across the OSU, including in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. These are used as circumstances require.
The OSU includes the Muslim holy cities and the Sultan also retains the title of Caliph, the religious leader of all Sunni Muslims. As such he retains some moral authority over Muslims around the world and in particular in the Middle East. Because the heart of Islam is under the control of a powerful, progressive, advanced and moderate Islamic regime, world Islam as a whole is also largely reasonably progressive and moderate. Because the OSU is aligned with France, Islam as a whole views France in a reasonably positive light. While some Islamic groups, similarly to some Christian groups, espouse extreme ideas and actions, they are, and remain a tiny minority (much more so than in the real world).
The OSU encourages (largely Muslim) immigration into the less developed areas of the OSU, and the Alexandrian Concord. This mainly, but not exclusively, consists of Indians.
In addition to Muslims, the OSU also numbers Jews and Christians of many denominations among its citizens. Much of its Jewish population are native to the OSU, but many are descended from Jews fleeing persecution in the Christian nations of Europe, in particular in Russia but also from Europe in general because of the later emancipation of the Jews in this world as compared to the real world (because of the lack of a French Revolution).
The OSU is as neutral as possible, but gives preferential treatment to and are allies of the French as they have little choice in the matter. Caught between the French and the Russians, they like the Russians much less to the history between them. Because of their alliances with the French the two regimes have a huge power bloc in the Middle East and Africa.
Relations between France and the OSU have become more fraught in recent decades. The political systems of the two nations are growing apart, and the OSU is becoming more powerful. It is something like real-world India; a large but neutral power. This has not stopped them and the French carving up the Middle East though...
The OSU is the worlds main consumer of mineral oil products, mainly for fuel. This derives both from their possessing very large natural reservoirs of mineral oil, and also because of problems with the use of alcohol as a fuel in an Islamic nation.
Although a second-ranked military power, the technological level, scientific skills and industry of the OSU and the Alexandrian Concord are second to none.
Because of the Russian takeover of the western part of Persia during the Persian War and their subsequent development of the region into a commercial and military centre, the OSU has heavily fortified the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, with major military forces based at Al Kuwayt [Kuwait City], Dammam, Khasab and Muscat.
Although some parts of the Alexandrian Concord are much less developed than the OSU, together the Alexandrian Concord is advancing towards the status of a first-ranked nation.
The Alexandrian Concord includes a variety of governments, but all are benevolent (by Ottoman lights) as a condition for membership. Being Islamic is not a condition for membership, though there are rumours that non-Muslim states are subtlety discriminated against.
The official language of the OSU is Turkish, which is a modernised and reformed version of Ottoman Turkish that is spoken by all members of Ottoman society. In addition to this, because of the history and geography of the OSU both French and Arabic are very widely spoken, with many Ottoman citizens being effectively trilingual. The OSU officially uses the Ottoman Turkish alphabet (a version of Arabic script) rather than Latin script, although the latter is also quite widely used in non-official roles, and signs using both scripts are widespread.
The flag of the OSU is the traditional Ottoman design of a white crescent moon and star on a red field.
The central of the three states on the Italian peninsula, with its capital in the Vatican, in Rome.
A nominally independent buffer state between Russian, Prussia (the Union) and the Holy Roman Empire. The internal affairs of Poland are nominally controlled by the Sejm (its parliament), whose members are made up of the richest and noblest citizens of Poland, its Magnates. However, its external affairs are controlled by the Advisory Council made up of representatives of the governments of the Union, Russia and the Holy Roman Empire, with the latter being the most junior of the three; as part of this Poland has no military, only an internal police force, though the police forces of the nations making up the Advisory Council also operate freely there. The Advisory Council can (and does) also override the decisions of the Sejm when they consider it necessary. Because of its puppet status the Sejm does not attract members who have the interests of the nation at heart, and so its Magnates are notoriously corrupt.
Corruption being endemic in the Sejm has cause corruption and lawlessness, as well as a general contempt for the Polish state, to extend to all levels of Polish society. Over time this has come to make Poland a haven for criminal activity of all kind, and a centre of global organised crime. It also makes the country an attractive destination for foreigners wishing to indulge tastes that are illegal or frowned upon at home, as well as a hotbed of espionage and undercover diplomacy. Because of the corruption in the Polish state, a number of less corrupt private security companies have grown up to provide a higher level of policing to those who can afford it; some of these also operate elsewhere in the world.
The country has quite a low population [even relative to its small size relative to the Poland of the real world] due to large numbers of Poles leaving the country over the years to seek a better life elsewhere, in particular in Brazil. However, there are also Poles who seek to improve the country itself, working illegally to remove corruption and free the country from its external puppetmasters, an activity that leads to sporadic unrest and violent suppressions.
The capital of Poland is the city of Warsaw. Its currency is the zloty, which is divided into thirty groszy. However, the puppet state of the nation means that the currencies of the Union, Russia and the Holy Roman Empire are widely accepted in preference to the national currency. The Polish flag consists of the Polish coat of arms, a crowned white eagle on a red shield, on a white field.
Although one of three founding states of the Union, because of its autocratic form of government, Prussia remained militaristic and authoritarian for longer than the other founding states of Britain and Hanover. This caused it to lag behind them in many areas, although not in matters relating to the military. Prussia remained an absolute monarchy until after the Second Societal Wars when the pressures of the Wars forced it to liberalise, industrialise, eliminate serfdom and change to a more democratic system. This has two houses its the legislature, the upper Estates and the lower Landtag. As with Hanover, these are loosely based on the Houses of Commons and Lords in the British Parliament.
The two houses of the Prussian government reside in separate locations in Berlin, the former royal palaces of Charlottenburg for the Estates, and Schönhausen for the Landtag. Although somewhat inconvenient, the use of the separate palaces for the two houses arose from the hasty changes to the Prussian government made after the Second Societal Wars, and since then has from time to time proved useful in maintaining the separation of the two houses. As in the other states of the Union, the grounds of both palaces are open to the public.
Since the movement of the government into the two palaces, most government ministries have moved to the vicinity of one or the other of them, so that now they largely lie scattered around the line between them.
The Prussian branch of the royal family lives in the Stadtschloss, in Berlin, where they have lived since 1701. [Unlike the case in the real world where it was damaged in WWII and demolished by the East German government in 1950; even so it is somewhat different in appearance to the Stadtschloss of the real world, due to the different history of this world.]
Prussia is generally the state of the Union with the greatest sporting prowess, and always does well in the Intra-Union Games. Stettin [Szczecin] rules football, a full contact version of football that is not unlike the game of Rugby from the real world originated in Prussia, and although the game did not originate there, the Prussian cricket team is well known for its hard-hitting style.
Before the end of the War of the Bomb in 1999, the Baltic coast of Prussia was a popular holiday destination for people from across the Union. However, since the detonation of the Swedish atomic bomb in that year, contamination of the Baltic has greatly discouraged people from going there, causing a serious impact to the Prussian tourist industry, though tourism in other parts of the Union has been boosted as a result.
Russia is the controlling state of the Northern System, and the largest nation in Europe. However, because of the actions of its UER regime, Russia no longer extends far into Asia.
The Russian government consists of the parliament - the Duma - made up of the nobility, but also a Tsars advisory/privy council along French lines. Because the Tsarina Catherine II [Catherine the Great] was killed early in her reign, her son, Tsar Paul I, did not introduce primogeniture into the Russian monarchy. Thus there have been both Tsars and Tsarinas since then.
Since the overthrow of the Romanov Dynasty and the Russian UER regime in 1853 and its replacement by the Kurakin Dynasty, the Russian Empire has been ruled by Tsars and Tsarinas selected by a Roman-inspired adoptive system. Because of this the Russian Empire has had a succession of fairly competent rulers who have led the Empire reasonably well. As a side effect of the competition involved in the adoptive succession system, the Russian nobility have, over the years, been forced to become, and remain, largely educated and competent as well.
Russia has suffrage for landowners above a certain level of income. The working classes, although not serfs any more, do not have the vote.
The Russian flag is its traditional design, consisting of three equal horizontal stripes of, from the top, white, blue and red.
During the UER period, the Russian flag was modified from its traditional design to a white field with a narrow red and blue band at the bottom. This was basically the old Russian flag with the white band - representing rationalism - greatly expanded.
Since the Persian War in the 1840s Russia has controlled the western half of what was Persia, region that has become known as Russia's Persian Tongue. Originally intended to give Russia a warm water port and access to the Indian Ocean, this has not grown into the great foothold on influence and control in the Indian Ocean that it was originally intended as simply because they were too late in the region. The French and Ottoman Empires already had too great a degree of control. However, the position of the Tongue on a direct land route to the Indian Ocean from northern and central Europe that avoids the Franco-Ottoman Suez Canal has made it popular with traders, in particular those who do not get on with the French or Ottomans for whatever reason, such as those from the Union. This is helped by its being faster than the Suez route under many circumstances. Thus its continuing existence is based on its financial rather than military or political significance. There are major rail links down the Tongue from European Russia through the Caucasus [roughly analgous to the rail part of the North–South Transport Corridor of the real world], though these are, of course, vulnerable to Persian terrorism and other sources of disruption.
The main port of the Tongue is the city of Gombroon [Bandar Abbas] on the north shore of the Persian Gulf. This has a major Russian naval base as well as a large civilian port.
The population of the Persian tongue is mostly of European Russian descent. This arises from a combination of a harsh initial occupation, which expelled, deported and turned into refugees much of the native Persian population, a policy encouraging immigration into the Tongue by European Russians, and generations of Eugenic policies that are biased against those of Persian descent. Those of Persian descent who remain in the more urban parts of the Tongue are generally considered to be Persian by genetics only and Russian in all other respects. Despite, or perhaps because of this there are a number of Persian nationalist (or terrorist) groups who wish to expel the Russians from the Tongue and reunite it with the rest of Persia. Based either just outside the Tongue or in the wilder regions of it, they conduct sporadic attacks and acts of terror in the cities while parts of the countryside, particularly close to the Russo-Persian border, suffer from near-permanant 'brushfire wars' between the Russian military and the nationalist groups.
A state within the Union formed when what was Britain, one of the three founding states of the Union, devolved into its four constituent nations following protests and unrest from their inhabitants.
The Scottish government meets in Parliament House, in Edinburgh. It is a single assembly, known as the Estates of Parliament, made up of members selected from the Three Estates, consisting of representatives of the Church, nobility, and common people. The members of the first two estates are appointed by the Crown, while the Third (and largest) estate is elected by the people. As with England, elections are held, at most, every six years.
The Privy Council forms the Scottish Cabinet, while the head of the Scottish government is the Lord President of the Privy Council [equivalent to the Prime Minister].
The Scottish branch of the Hanover-Hohenzollern Dynasty reside in Holyrood Palace, as do other important visitors to Scotland, and the monarch when they visit the country.
Because of the different history of the country in this world the national anthem of Scotland is different to that of the real world.
A state which split away from the Holy Roman Empire in a nationalist uprising in 1961. It is a fledgling democracy allied with the OSU for protection. It is rumoured that the OSU was involved in their seceding from the Holy Roman Empire, but these are denied by both the Serbian and Ottoman governments.
Spain is essentially a French satellite, despite various Spanish attempts to make it otherwise. It is a nominally absolute monarchy, like France, but also as in France one whose power is heavily tempered by the counsellors and advisors who surround the monarch, currently Queen Isabel IV. Although Spain is, since the end of the Second War of the Spanish Succession in 1894, ruled by a government and monarch separate from those of France, it is still very much subservient to France in terms of foreign, military and much domestic policy. The satellite status of Spain is most obvious in the light of its royal family being of the same, though a lesser branch of, House of Bourbon as the French monarchy. Another element of this is the lack of border controls and trade barriers at the Franco-Spanish border.
Although Spain in general prospers under this arrangement, many Spanish people are disgruntled at the loss of sovereignty it has forced on the country. Because of this there are a number of political and even terrorist groups, largely Spanish Nationalists, who wish to move Spain out of the French orbit, though the means they propose differ greatly. Although lacking much popular support, these groups are a constant worry for the Spanish government. Disgruntlement with the government has also driven a significant number of Spanish to emigrate to the former Spanish colonies of South America, particularly in the years immediately after 1894.
The flag of Spain is a triband of red, yellow and red, with the central yellow band being twice the width of the red bands and containing the coat-of-arms offset towards the hoist [this is identical to the real world Spanish flag that was used between 1785 and 1931].
The isolated, militaristic and secretive 'hermit kingdom' of Sweden is the nation where governmental 'improvement' of its population via selective breeding, eugenics and so on has reached its highest level. It is suspected that this is why Sweden is the first and so far only nation to possess nuclear weapons, since two of them brought an abrupt end to the Incorporation War in 1999 when they were used against the invading forces of the Northern System.
An absolute monarchy, Sweden's isolation from the rest of the world originally arose from policy and more recently by the fear of other nations.
Caught between the Northern System, the Union, and to a lesser extent the French, the Swedes have had to remain vigilant against external threats and because of this have avoided alliances with all of them as much as possible, based on the prime aim of their foreign policy, to remain independent. Conversely, the continued existence of a threatening Sweden has helped to hold the Northern System together.
With French help Swedish agriculture and industry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries became more advanced than in the real world, with more food, more mining and more iron and steel production. Ways to farm in cold climates were experimented with, and the Swedish royal family encouraged population growth.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Sweden invested heavily in iron and steam technology, with help from France, one of its main customers. Because of this, when the Economic Collapse occurred in 1831 Sweden was the worst hit of all the European nations. Its economy collapsed, many refugees sought safety elsewhere in Sweden or in its neighbours, and its people starved while its neighbours took advantage of its parlous state to swap territory for food, or simply invade. In some places, warlords took control, to grab power or do what they believed would save the people. Finland was taken by Russia, while parts of northern Sweden were lost to Denmark-Norway and a number of Swedish islands to Prussia.
Following the suicide of King Gustav IV Adolf in 1832, only strong leadership by his son, King Gustav V Adolf, backed by Swedish nobility and its remaining industrialists saved the Swedish state. Even so, things were hard for many years. Tens of thousands died. Many industrial families were ennobled or married into the Swedish nobility for their efforts during this time.
With the beginning of a recovery in Sweden, attempts were made to retake some of the territory lost during the Economic Crisis. The Swedish War of 1836 to 1837 only led to relatively minor border adjustments in Swedens favour despite the assistance of the Union, and the cost and effort set back the recovery of the country by some years. The Swedish government considered this failure a betrayal by the Union.
Out of this time of troubles grew the Nationell Förstärkning [National Strengthening] movement, founded by governmental secretary Hjalmar Arfvedson in 1839. It taught that Sweden had drifted from the path of righteousness, been corrupted and weakened by the inferior, and in particular by corrupt foreigners. Sweden must sacrifice and struggle to grow strong again. To stand on its own two feet without help from outsiders. It must purge the weak and parasitic while strengthening the strong.
Support for Nationell Förstärkning spread and grew across Sweden; a Norse revival began in parallel with this. The disabled and terminally ill began to be euthanised, while those protesting against this were suppressed. Those deemed most 'fit' were encouraged to breed as much as possible to grow the population.
In the 1850s complacency in the government as a new generation came to power led to further external incursions against Russia and Denmark-Norway that were met with defeat and national humiliation. In the aftermath of this, a mostly bloodless coup installed a new Royal Family who adopted Nationell Förstärkning and a Roman-style adoptive succession system to improve the state and try to ensure that the best monarch always took the throne.
One unique feature of the Swedish system of adoptive succession since then is that the successor is chosen in secret and only revealed upon the death of the previous monarch. This has been successful despite a brief civil war in 1886 when the person assumed to be the favoured candidate was not selected. He was crushed by the chosen successor, bolstering the adoptive succession system as a whole.
As part of its adoption of Nationell Förstärkning, Sweden became more and more militarised, restoring order across the country, sometimes brutally, but rebuilding, re-industrialising, and becoming stronger. National service and military training was introduced for all Swedish subjects, and Swedish travellers were encouraged to learn and bring back any useful foreign information, including forms of martial arts. Life gradually improved for all Swedes.
As part of this, the country did manage to carve out the small southern African colonies of Corannaland and Inhambane.
The idea of Roman-style succession and related ideas of Spartan-style discipline - flowed down through society and gradually lead to the adoption of a harsh but meritocratic system, where the best were rewarded, even to the point of adoption into the nobility or even the Royal Family, and the worst punished by demotion to the lower orders of society.
With the spread of eugenic ideas, these became incorporated into Nationell Förstärkning in the early 1860s. The Swedish state began to extend its reach into the matchmaking, marriages and bedrooms of its subjects as Sweden began to selectively breed its people nobility included to improve them, mentally and physically, while also culling those considered defective. The Swedish Church, by now thoroughly integrating into the state, fully supported this idea, and the Swedish government ignored the many protests against its policies from other European nations.
These foreign protests generated calls for further strengthening of the nation. Russia used this as an excuse to attack Sweden, to 'save' its people from their own government. Sweden was better able to hold Russia off, using threats of biological weapons as a deterrent, but damage was still inflicted.
As the war ended, the government concluded that even the new Sweden and the breeding of the new Swedes was not enough. More needed to be done. Sweden must be not just strong, but clever, more intelligent than its neighbours. Its enemies. All Swedes must be made the best they can, for the good of the state.
Experiments, most of them inhumane at the very least, tried to raise up the Swedish population though training, new educational methods, drugs and many other experimental methods. Many of the initial classes failed, and their victims were sent to more menial work, but some succeeded. Eventually hothousing was adopted across the country, as it seemed to give the best results, though at the cost of a significant fraction of children burning out or being otherwise damaged by the process.
In parallel with this, Swedens intelligence services begin expanding and improving. Their political, scientific and industrial espionage increased as another means of giving the country an edge over others. At the same time they tried to attract useful foreigners to immigrate (such as, in later years, Gennadiy Innokentiyvitch Illarionov). Another method introduced financial rewards to innovative Swedes who strengthened the state, including by way of the invention of new technologies, processes and so on.
Sweden managed to avoid the Societal Wars. They were a Panopticon society at that point, but given the troubles of the past the Swedish people accepted this as part of the price of survival. They did take advantage of the unrest of the First and Second Societal Wars to reclaim parts of lost Swedish territory.
One thing Sweden was not able to do was maintain complete national self-sufficiency [autarky]. Instead in the late nineteenth century it began selling iron ore and other products to the outside world. In the early to middle of the twentieth century it also sold jachymovium [uranium] ore from the mines on its territories. However, as far as the outside world was aware these reserves were mined out not long afterwards.
By way of political manoeuvring they were able to regain part of the former Swedish territory in the aftermath of the Blight released during the Turkmen War.
As the twentieth century progressed, in some areas Sweden matched and then exceeded the scientific and technological development of every other nation on Earth. In particular they advanced in the physical sciences rather the biological sciences on which most other nations focused, though at the same time they made use of advances in the biological sciences to continuously improve their eugenic practices.
It is believed that some time in the late 1940s Swedish scientists stumbled upon the possibilities of nuclear energy. Immediately made a state secret, they began developing these ideas and the technology to underpin their application. It is rumoured that since then Sweden has further cemented its lead in this field also by actively stealing and sabotaging similar research elsewhere in the world, and sometimes murdering scientists involved in it. Swedish nuclear research was helped by Sweden having its own resources of jachymovium [uranium]. [Note that even in the real world Sweden had a nuclear weapons programme between 1945 and 1972.]
Over the course of the twentieth century increasingly competent Hothoused diplomats, generals and other thinkers used a number of border disputes and incursions to chip away at the borders of Russia and Denmark-Norway. Advanced weapons, tactics and strategies developed by Swedish thinkers were used to good effect. Eventually Sweden was able to negotiate the return of its entire lost territories and a bit more, in return for a number of beneficial trade deals with both of its neighbours.
Sweden began punching above its weight. Some other nations began considering the adoption of a Swedish-style system.
However, with the crowning of the new Tsar Valentin IV in 1997, Russia's attitude to Sweden changed. Its government began to work for the return of the Swedish territories it had negotiated away. This led directly to the start of the Incorporation War, and the Swedish use of nuclear weapons.
The recent war has unequivocally shown the rest of the world the power of Sweden as a nation and its intelligence services in particular. This arises from their keeping their nuclear programme secret from the rest of the world, and from their theft of the nuclear secrets of other nations that most governments assume must have happened for them to achieve the success that they have.
Sweden has been an 'enlightened despotism' since 1772 and continues to be up to the present day [unlike the case in the real world, where the assassination of King Gustav III in 1792 ended this form of rule].
Although nominally an absolute monarchy, in reality the situation is more complex. The Swedish government is made up of a system of interlocking councils not unlike the French system (though the Swedes will deny this). The state as a whole is a highly competitive meritocracy, one that does not waste talent, with exams for promotion (and demotion). Corruption does occur from time to time but is harshly punished when discovered.
The monarch, currently King Charles XV [not the same person as the king of that name from the real world], rules from the Royal Palace in Stockholm and sits at the top of the technocracy supported by a tripod of science, industry and the military. Under each of them are layers of subordinates owing loyalty to the monarch and their superiors. Because science requires a higher minimum level of skills than the others, the science leg of the tripod has fewer people and fewer 'levels' than the others, but despite this contributes at least as much.
There are five broad groups of levels, with roles that become progressively less secure down from the top:
The nobility no longer includes only the old noble houses of Sweden, who some consider the 'pure' nobility, but also includes scientists, engineers, innovators and so on. Because of the need to incorporate these people into the higher ranks of Swedish society, there are now two ranks of nobility, inheritable and non-inheritable. Innovators and so on can become non-hereditary peers or, with a sufficiently great achievement, a hereditary peer. It is possible, though rare, for a commoner to be promoted directly to inherited nobility. A series of lesser achievements can take an individual to the same end via non-inheritable nobility status. A Swede can be rich regardless of status.
The day to day running of the Kingdom of Sweden is conducted by the Riksdag, an assembly made up of representatives of all of the people of Sweden and descended from the Riksdag of the Estates.
There are three major and several minor factions in Swedish politics:
Because its form of government resembles that put forward in the 1651 book Leviathan) by Thomas Hobbes, Sweden has been mockingly called the Swedish Leviathan. They have taken this as a compliment and it is used both inside and outside the country, normally with a rather different interpretation.
Perhaps because of the higher rates of mental disorders and savant abilities, there is a tendency among Swedes to undertake grandiose or even mad schemes, and they have had problems with this in the past. Thus there has, for some decades, been a 'Feasibility Committee' decreed by the King, to assess ideas to ensure they are likely to be sane and practical.
There are organisations equivalent to trade unions within Sweden, giving representation to the common people. However, all are part of the Swedish governmental structure. Non-governmental unions are forbidden.
To the outside world the Swedish system is a form of industrial feudalism, a feudal technocracy, with the King and nobility ruling over Swedish subjects who voluntarily give their labour and fealty to those over them, while they in turn fulfil their obligations of protecting and providing for them. In terms of how it is run, Sweden is not unlike a 'State Corporation'. That is, the nation is run as if it were a company, with all Swedish subjects, including children and Helots, shareholders of it. This helps to motivate them to give loyalty and effort to the state.
The Swedish nation-company is not focussed on short-term profit. Instead it focusses on long-term survival and benefit for their shareholders and the state as a whole.
Each role in the state comes with a number of shares in the nation-company, with children and Helots having the minimum. Shares cannot be traded, but the number of shares a person has assigned to them changes if they change role in the nation. The number of shares is not an income in itself but determines the fraction of the 'national profit' the person gets each year, effectively as a salary with a bonus at the end of the year. Shareholdership also provides social security/welfare for each shareholder. The number of shares a person has also determines their political power. One person is not equal to one vote, but one share above the minimum level is, so all subjects other than children and Helots have some political say. All shareholders can put forward ideas and nominate representatives. Long-term illness and the like essentially changes a person's role to a lesser one, and reduces the number of shares they have.
When the shareholder system was first introduced people could trade money for shares and buy their way up the social ladder. However, this led to a number of problems and so is no longer permitted.
Obviously Sweden is a Panopticon society, the only such remaining in Europe.
Swedish women are expected to contribute to the state as much as men are. They are giving military training, but are considered to be less expandable than men due to their being capable of bearing children. Many Swedish women bear (approved) children when reasonably young, in parallel with a safe career, and begin more demanding or dangerous roles once their children are grown.
There are no holidays in the Swedish system, apart from a small number of national celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, New Year and the coronation and birth days of the monarch. Instead, Swedish subjects are allowed working breaks, where they do other work for a few weeks, on the principle of 'a change is as good as a rest'. Sometimes people book themselves into hospital for treatment that is basically a rest.
To keep the system fresh, some people are encouraged to change or swap jobs periodically (while remaining at the same level). Others are allowed to take sabbaticals.
Outside of work Swedes are allowed to pursue hobbies if they so choose, which in some cases they use to provide extra income. Many grow vegetables, or make beer, preserves or other things. Some are musicians, artists or pursue a craft. This is allowed because it is also considered to help keep the system and the people that make it up fresh.
All of this is intended to keep the Swedish system working as hard as possible, but in a way that is sustainable in the long term. The evolution of this system has been - and still is - hard on many subjects but works sufficiently well to allow Sweden to survive.
It is rumoured that many workers in Sweden, particularly those in science and technology, are obliged to use drugs - many with side effects - intended to increase their cognitive abilities. It is speculated that this helps to compensate for the loss of creativity caused by the repressive Swedish system.
No Swedish subject really retires; people tend to work in one sense or another until they die. Older people teach, passing on their knowledge, skills and experience to their successors, or acting in an advisory role. This is particularly the case for scientific and technical subjects.
In the higher levels of the Swedish system burned out people are common. 'Recuperation Brigades' exist made up of these people. They are labourers, but better treated than common labourers due to their previous service, and provide a form of occupational therapy for them. Sometimes people recover from the Brigades back into normal society.
Because of its highly regimented nature, a majority of Swedish people wear a uniform as part of their job and this is visible on the streets of Sweden. Related to this, all Swedes must carry an identity card at all times; these can be checked by the Swedish Marshalcy at any time. Papers are also required for travel in Sweden outside of a person's home area; almost no Swede is allowed the leave the country, though defections do occasionally occur.
Despite the insular nature of their society, Sweden remains open to outside influences even if they may disapprove of them. Their logic for this is that without outside contact, how will they know their system is strong enough to stand against the influence of the rest of the world? They make heavy use of somewhat hypocritical propaganda where they nominally maintain openness to the outside world, but in reality limit this to openness to new science and technology. Other aspects of the outside world are downplayed, nominally as useless but in reality because they are somewhat dangerous to the Swedish status quo.
Swedish law is by no means the same across all of society. As with medical treatment, the place of a given individual in society governs the offences to which they are liable and how they are treated if found guilty of one of them.
Most Swedish law is enforced by its Marshalcy, which is not unlike that of France.
However, in addition to the everyday Marshals who stop 'active' crimes, special Marshalcy 'Auditors' root out waste, fraud, corruption, cheating, nepotism, laziness and slackness crimes against the Swedish nation-company. Many Auditors are part time Marshals; their day job is management of the people below them, but they also quietly audit them; this puts them in an ideal position to find the things Auditors are meant to stop.
There is no death penalty in Sweden; instead the most serious crimes are punished by demotion to Helot status and often an additional sentence of hard labour. How hard usually depends on the crime committed.
Sweden remains a nominally Christian country, with the Church of Sweden as the state religion. However, over time the church has been subsumed more and more into the Swedish state, so that by the present day it is nothing more than an arm of the government, with its sermons and teachings acting to support government policy. Because of this, although openly supportive of it, many Swedish people are privately highly cynical about the church, and attendance levels have been gradually dropping for decades.
In addition to Christianity, as a side effect of the Nationell Förstärkning movement Norse religion has revived and is quite widespread across Sweden where it is known as Ásatrú, the "faith in the gods".
Ásatrú is tolerated more as a cultural movement rather than a religion competing with the Church of Sweden, but many people believe in it more than Christianity. There are some factions that would like to eliminate Christianity altogether and replace it by Ásatrú. Others see them remaining separate, or syncretising in some manner.
Another effect of the revival of Ásatrú is the spread of the use of Norse runic script across Sweden. Although Latin script remains the official one, runes are quite widely used for non-official work, and are also used in some Ásatrú rituals.
Because it is so involved in the lives of its people, the Swedish government is the employer of the majority of the Swedish people. Some government ministries are huge; in particular those of Health, Education (including childcare), War, Security and Industry employ large numbers of Swedes. The Ministry of Science is not as large, but also rated highly in terms of the resources allocated to it. All industries and institutions considered essential for the state are nationalised; this includes scientific research, agriculture, the Riksbank [Bank of Sweden] and the Church of Sweden.
Other occupations, such as those in entertainment (music, the arts, kino [the cinema] and so on), are considered secondary, or 'parasitic' on the state. These roles tend to be low-rated in terms of the number of shares they bring, but successful entertainers can be rich and/or have high prestige. Even so all officially approved art is directed in the service of the state, as propaganda, martial music and so on.
The monolithic nature of Swedish institutions has a tendency towards institutional complacency. This has caused a number of problems in the country. Because of this in the 1960s Sweden adopted the Zululand system, where industries and so on are split into competing sub-units, with incentives and penalties for the best and worst performers. This has helped to remove most complacency from the system and improve performance.
The central bank of the Kingdom of Sweden is the Riksens Ständers Bank [Bank of the Estates of the Realm], also known as the Riksbank, the oldest central bank in the world. It is entirely a part of the Swedish government.
The Swedish currency is the Riksdaler, which is subdivided into 48 Skilling. Each Skilling is subdivided into 16 Runstycken.
Over time many Swedish military units have acquired names derived from the Norse gods. These are often in the form of 'The 6th Children of Thor'. Thor is a popular deity for front-line soldiers. Odin is found among units specialising in intelligence. Skathi (the skiing goddess) is patroness of arctic warfare units. Njord is patron of the Navy. And so on.
Many Swedish weapons and military vehicles also have names derived from Norse mythology. For example, there is an Ichaival family of machine guns, named after a bow possessed by Odin that possessed the power of releasing ten arrows for each draw of the bow. There is also a Mjölnir class of cossack [tank] and a Hringhorni class of Swedish warships. There are other weapons named after different swords from Norse mythology.
Swedish spies use false Danish-Norwegian or Polish (and more recently Finnish) papers to gain access to the outside world. There are rumours of secret cross-border tunnels and submarine drops to facilitate this.
The population of Sweden is higher than in the real world at some 14 million people [as opposed to some 9.7 million people in the 2013 census of the real world]. There is much more utilisation of hydroelectricity and engineered crops that grow well in the cold, and some sea farming. Engineered algae grown in vats are also used to feed elements of the population.
The condition of Sweden's natural environment is mixed. In some places - closer to the large cities, or around the more major Myrkheim complexes - it has been heavily polluted by industry and so on. Other, more remote areas are maintained as nature reserves, which usually double as military training areas. The larger population means that Sweden relies on farm towers and intensive farming more than in the real world. Attempts to clean up polluted areas are being made; this is a major use of 'guest workers'.
All of the infrequent foreign visitors to Sweden are strictly controlled in their movements and contacts with the Swedish people. They are not allowed out in public without a government 'minder' to ensure no ... inappropriate ... contact occurs.
People do occasionally defect from Sweden to the outside world. This is often done for love, or because of children. Most of those who try it are killed in the attempt, but a few do make it out. Unfortunately for the outside world, none have been from the Swedish nuclear programmes.
Portraits and statues of the current King and previous Swedish monarchs are found in buildings and public places across the country.
There are two state-approved newspapers in Sweden. The Ordinari Post Tijdender, the oldest currently published newspaper in the world, is a highbrow publication, while De Nationen [The Nation] caters to the more lowbrow end of the readership. Other 'underground' publications also exist, but generally not for long.
With no Napoleonic Wars the Swedes still use patronymic surnames.
The official language of Sweden is, of course, Swedish. However, all Swedes are taught at least one language (most often French) to a fluent, and often accent-less level in school. Most Swedes also know at least one other language to a reasonably fluent level.
Switzerland is a fairly loose confederation of largely independent cantons, with the Swiss Tagsatzung, a council of representatives from the cantons, forming a national legislature and executive [from a real world perspective, Switzerland in this world is a continuation of the Old Swiss Confederacy]. Originally having little power over the cantons, time and growing strength of Switzerland's neighbours have led to it acquiring a number of powers relating to national defence and foreign policy over the years. The Tagsatzung rules from the Swiss capital of Baden.
Individual cantons vary a great deal in their internal politics and government, but in general the urban cantons tend to be more autocratic and ruled by their nobility, while the rural ones tend to be more democratic. In addition to this there are also deep-seated divisions between the Catholic and Protestant cantons, although they remain united by their common Swiss identity. Two cantons have governments that are democratic, but only those who have served in the Swiss military (including as mercenaries) are allowed to stand for office, in a government that is a form of Centuriate Assembly, that is, one in which only miitary veterans have power.
Switzerland maintains a state of armed neutrality, that is, as a nation it takes no sides or participates in wars, but stands ready to defend itself from attack. As part of this all Swiss take part in national military service. Also because of, or perhaps despite this, Swiss mercenaries are quite commonly found in military service across the world, and often compete with the Zulus for work. The main difference between them and the Zulus is that the Swiss tend to work for France or the allies of France, while the Zulus are considerably less discriminating.
As part of its strong military, Switzerland is home to a number of military equipment manufacturers, and sells their products around the world, though again often to French allies. This is another field in which it competes with Zululand. In addition to this, much as in the real world, and for much the same reasons, the Swiss banking industry is known for its privacy and security, and allegedly holds the deposits of many of the worlds richest people.
Most cantons have strong military veterans organisations that campaign, so far unsucessfully, for a Centuriate Assembly system to implemented there. Although unsucessful in changing the government of most cantons, it is these organisations that were able to put in place the current Swiss flag, a square with a white cross in the centre superimposed on a design known as a 'flammé', that was originally only used by Swiss mercenaries but now represents the nation as a whole.
[Some parts of what follows are taken from or inspired by parts of David bar Elias' story 'Oh Blast - Clive-Less World in Puritan World'.]
The second most powerful nation on Earth after the French Empire, the Union is an Anglo-German federal state with possessions on every continent that grew out of the eighteenth century alliance of Prussia with the Hanoverian monarchy of Britain and Hanover itself.
Beginning with an alliance that turned into a Personal Union of thrones and eventually political union, the Union has, over time, evolved into a Federal organisation, something not entirely unlike the real-world British Commonwealth. That is, it is a nation made up of a number of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central (federal) government. In particular they are linked via treaties of mutual defence, but also ones of trade, in particular of free trade with there being no internal tariffs between the states of the Union.
Each of the states of the Union handles its own internal affairs, within certain limits that apply to the Union as a whole, and sends five representatives to the Upper and twenty to the Lower House of the Union Parliament in the capital city of Hanover. The Union government handles inter-state affairs and the relations of the Union with the other nations of the world, such as defence and foreign policy. Within these bounds the fundamental rules of the government of the Union are, like those of the United Kingdom in the real world, an unwritten constitution. Rather than being explicitely codified in law as a single unit, they are instead made up of a mass of individual laws, customs, usages and precendents that have evolved over time and that together define how the Union should operate.
The forming of the Union was based on the principles of self-determination on local matters for all of its states, within the overall structure of the Union itself. However, it was also formed on the more idealistic principles of 'Freid aund Ordat' [Freedom and Order], which helped to define how the Union should be formed and run, with an eye on how it might grow and change in the future. This principle is still used up to the present day, although to different degrees in different states, with Hanover itself being the most insistent on 'Freid aund Ordat'.
There is universal suffrage in the Union from the age of twenty-one. All states of the Union also have universal national service from the ages of 18 to 21, though this is not necessarily in the military; many perform their national service in the medical or fire services, or in the civil service.
A constitutional monarchy, the head of state of the Union as a whole is its monarch, currently Queen Louise I, who is the head of the Hanover-Hohenzollern Dynasty. Because the Union is a constitutional monarchy, they are responsible only for diplomatic and ceremonial duties, though the monarch has more power than (for example) the real-world British monarch. It is possible for the monarch of the Union to also be the monarch of a nation within the Union, though there are strict controls about their abusing their position if so. Several nations within the Union have their own branches of the Royal Family, with their own Princes and Princesses who are their local constitutional royalty. Due to the different history of this world the Crown Jewels of the Union, as derived from those of Britain, Prussia and Hanover, are not as extensive as the British Crown Jewels of the real world. They do not include the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
The head of the Union government is the Supreme Minister, currently Angharad Morgan, the former Prime Minister of Wales. The Supreme Minister is elected from among the heads of government of the states of the Union by the people of the Union as a whole; because of this each state selects a deputy head of government in case the 'primary' one becomes Supreme Minister. Members of the Union Kabinett [Cabinet] are selected from the governments of the states of the Union.
Under the Union Kabinett, the Union government is divided into a number of Direktorates [Directorates], agencies that coordinate its Union-wide activities. The Direktorates include:
The Union government is staffed and run by members of the Union civil service, which is made up of people recruited from across the Union itself. The civil service is largely based in Hanover though there are of course Union bureaucrats in towns, cities and so on, wherever they are required all across the Union.
Due to prolonged contact with Britain, over time Prussia has become more of a constitutional monarchy.
Due to prolonged contact with Prussia, over time Britain has become more bureaucratic and militaristic.
Most of the states within the Union have nationalist movements within them, who see the Union as gradually eroding the character of their state into the homogenous whole that is the Union itself. They wish their state to either entirely leave the Union, or at least to weaken the ties between them. In general they are very much minorities within their states, due to the both the benefits perceived to arise from the Union, and also from the need to remain unified due to the proximity of the greatly powerful France. For these reasons the strongest nationalist groups tend to be in the more isolated parts of the Union such as those in the Americas, Neues Prussia and Neuer Hanover [New Zealand].
In opposition to these, the Union also has a number of groups advocating the conversion of the Union from a federation of states into a single overarching unitary super-state. Although a more popular idea than that of the nationalists, this is still very much a minority view, as most people and governments are happy with the compromise between national individuality and security provided by the Union as it stands.
The number of states within the Union has remained constant for decades, simply because there are only a few nations who are not already part of the Union who might wish to join it. Those that do exist are mainly in the German-speaking parts of Europe, and parts of South America. In all of these cases, however, there are political pressures that prevent them being allowed to join. As such the Union has few mechanisms for adding new states (and none at all for allowing states to leave once they have joined).
Each of the states of the Union has its own police force, which operates independently of the others, although in general they cooperate with one another on cross-border crimes through the auspices of the Konstabulary Direktorate, which handles those forms of crime that apply to the Union as a whole or that are considered too important to be handled by a state police force.
As in the real world the police force of Britain and the British-descended parts of the Union is descended from the Bow Street Runners of the eighteenth century. Over time it has evolved into a civilian police force analogous to, though also different in many details from, that of Britain in the real world. One major difference between the British-descended police of this world and the British police of the real world is that in this world it is customary for all police officers to carry firearms.
Prussia and the Prussian-descended parts of the Union, on the other hand, have police forces which are a branch of the military of the region and which originated in the paramilitary policing that developed in those areas. Again, the police in these states normally carry firearms. Although part of the military, they do not police the military but do become an auxiliary military force in time of war.
The police force of Hanover and its descendant states within the Union are much like the British police forces in terms of its structure and how it functions, but is nonetheless a paramilitary force that is part of the military rather than a civilian organisation. Because they function as an entirely civilian organisation, they do not become a military force in time of war.
Mercriks [Mercy Districts]
Welfare in the Union is largely provided by local state governments, through the auspices of the Mercriks. These grew out of the growth of industrialisation during the course of the 19th century, as millions flocked to industrial centres throughout the Union, and overcrowding, poverty and malnourishment soared to new heights. In 1893, following the Second Societal Wars, Charles Tamric, a New England sociologist, introduced the idea of 'Mercriks' as an evolution of workhouses, places where the unemployed and malnourished could come for charity, shelter and food.
The first Mercrik was established in Boston, in Hudsonia, in 1900, from where Mercriks spread steadily across the Union. By the present day, most cities have multiple Mercriks, all located on the outskirts of the city (or at least what were the outskirts when they were built, something that is often no longer the case) to provide a degree of relief to the chronic congestion from which many cities suffer. With advances in medical technology - along with a number of outbreaks of disease that arose from the Mercriks - free medical care also became available in them. The concept of Mercriks has also been adopted by a number of other governments around the world.
The city and government authorities are generally in favour of the Mercriks because it moves the unemployed off the streets (and avoids the rioting and looting that the Second Societal Wars had been infamous for) while providing markets for crops and helping the unemployed survive and find better lives for themselves. This is largely done by keeping them busy. All inhabitants undergo compulsory education, and also undertake work as part of the price for their receiving help [as a form of workfare]; the nature of this work varies but often includes farming and maintenance of the Mercrik itself. Work is not entirely compulsory, but it brings better food, clothing and other supplies to those who undertake it.
Most state governments reserve the right to call upon all adult inhabitants of their Mercriks to assist in the event of disasters. The Union also reserves the right to draft them as soldiers in time of war.
In reality, despite the Union-wide standards set for them by the Wohlfahrt Sub-Direktorate, Mercriks are normally less than pleasant, mostly filled with dark, run-down tenement houses packed with the unemployed, many of whom unhappy, depressed or mentally ill. Petty theft and other crimes are common, despite the best efforts of the authorities to combat them. Most Mercriks also include farm towers so that they are, to some extent, self-supporting.
In some places, the children of those who enter the Mercriks are taken from their parents and raised in 'more suitable' locations elsewhere, often through fostering. In all Mercriks, the inhabitants are expected to use contraception so that no children are born there. In some states, the inhabitants of the Mercricks are forced to take contraceptive drugs, either via an implant, in their food or in the water they drink. It is rumoured that in some places additional drugs are employed to keep the population of the Mercricks passive or otherwise control them.
Land owners whose circumstances force them into Mercriks do not lose their property, but control of it passes to the state for the duration of their stay. In general state governments rent out such properties, with residential ones becoming part of their stock of public housing, while industrial property is rented to concerns that will make use of it.
People do leave the Mercriks then they find new jobs, or emigrate to parts of the Union that have more need of them. However, for many, once they enter a Mercrik they only leave to assist on local farms on a temporary basis, and even this is declining as industrialisation takes over more and more jobs (along with the problem of criminals taking advantage of peoples absence to rob their homes).
The Union has no state religion. Instead, religious affairs are left entirely to its constituent states, within the limits of a Union-wide ban on religious discrimination.
The vast majority of religious people in the Union follow one or other branch of Christianity, with the various branches of Protestantism being the most common of these. A minority of people, mostly of Indian descent, follow Hinduism or Buddhism, while a few others are Muslims. The only state in which the vast majority of the population is not Christian is Sierra Leone, where a large fraction of the population are Muslim, and a significant (and growing) fraction follow indigenous religions, which have also attracted a small number of followers elsewhere in the Union.
Several Union settlements developed from coaling stations or trading posts, particularly on several islands in the East Indies [Indonesia].
Most of the cities within the European parts of the Union, particularly those in its German parts (including Berlin and Hanover) but also many British cities, retain more of their historical layout and buildings due to their different history and lack of destructive wars compared to the real world [in particular the lack of a WWII].
The Union largely consists of areas with small non-European populations, so that it is very much an ethnically-European state, with only a tiny minority of other races living in it. The only exceptions to this are Sierra Leone, and Neues Prussia and Neuer Hanover [New Zealand] which have a high percentage of African and Maori-descended citizens respectively. As such the Union as a whole is much less ethnically diverse than (for example) Britain in the real world.
The Union has unified postal and televox [telephone] systems which have evolved from the integration of the national systems of the original states of the Union into one. These are both owned and operated by the government under the auspices of the Internal Affairs Direktorate, with no private services of this kind allowed. Although postage stamps cost the same for the same service all across the Union, each state has its own designs. There is a degree of competition as each state tries to produce the most popular design.
There are a large number of newspapers in the Union, the single government-run newspaper, the Daily News (considered very dry and dull) and a large number of privately-owned papers. Some of these are Union-wide, with the rest operating across a fraction of or within a single state of the Union. The most popular of the Union-wide newspapers include:
[Although some of these may share names with newspapers from the real world, they are not the same as them.]
There are also a large number of radiant [radio] and television services with, as for newspapers, a small number being Union-wide and the rest operating across a fraction of or within a single state of the Union. Most of the radiant and television services are privately operated. The Union government does maintain a small number of both of the latter for official purposes, operating under the auspices of the Union Radiant Dienst [Union Radiant Service]. The Union-operated radiant and television services are unimaginatively named URD-1, URD-2 and so on.
Privately run newspapers and radiant and television services are licensed to operate by the Union or their state government under the auspices of the Union Telekommunikation Büro [Union Telecommunications Bureau].
Two sports that originated in the Union are played around the world. These are:
Other sports are played in the Union but have not been as successful in spreading elsewhere in the world. In particular cricket is widely played within the Union but barely followed elsewhere [the basic game is the same as that of the real world, though the details of the rules are different, sometimes significantly].
The Union officially speaks Unionsprache [Unionspeech], a constructed composite language introduced during the 1850s that is derived from a combination of both English and German. It is the language of government and politics within the Union, intended to formalise the already-existing mixing of English and German occurring within the Union, and to help to cement the Union into a unified entity. English and German are still spoken, but very much as secondary languages. Unionsprache is also the language of education, with government-funded schools and universities required to teach only in it. In general all state-provided services are conducted in Unionsprache (for example, policing, medical care and so on), and all new immigrants are required to learn it.
At the same time as the introduction of Unionsprache a Union-wide system of measurement units and a unified Union currency were also introduced. The Union currency is a decimal system, consisting of Marks that are each divided into one hundred Pennies. The measurement units are a rationalisation of the different systems used in each of Britain, Hanover and Prussia rather a radically new system.
The Union flag is a white cross (derived from the British cross of St George), with each quarter that it divides off a different colour, gold, red, blue and black, all derived from the colours of the flags of Britain, Hanover and Prussia.
The Ensigns used by Union ships and many of the British-derived states in the Union are very similar to the red, white and blue ensigns used by Britain in the real world, and are descended from them. The major difference is that instead of having the British Union Flag in the top left corner it has the flag of the Union. State flags normally have an appropriate national symbol added to the basic ensign [in a similar manner to the real world flags of Australia, New Zealand and so on]
In a similar manner the flags of the Prussian or Hanoverian-derived states in the Union have flags derived from those of Prussia or Hanover.
A state which split away from the Holy Roman Empire in a nationalist uprising during the Anti-Naturalist revolution of 1894.
The Welsh government meets in the Welsh Houses of Parliament, which is housed within the grounds of Cardiff Castle in the heart of the bustling city of Cardiff. Very similar to the English parliament in terms of how it is structured and how it functions, the main difference is that, like some of the American states of the Union its upper and lower houses are named the House of Notables and the House of Electors respectively, and Welsh elections have a five rather than a six year cycle. The head of government remains the Prime Minister, however.
The Welsh branch of the Hanover-Hohenzollern Dynasty resides in Holland House, which also lies with the grounds of the Cardiff Castle. [Cardiff Castle in this world is, almost needless to say, very different to that of the real world, having been restored and used differently over time. Likewise the city of Cardiff itself is very different to its real world version.]
Much as in the real world, the valleys of South Wales were heavily industrialised in the nineteenth century to exploit the coal and iron resources found there. Unlike the case in the real world, much of this industry is still functional to the present day [with the locations of pit heads and so on also differing to their equivalents in the real world, although still on the valley floors]. Another difference is that towns and villages are more populous, but also more compact, with people living in tenement buildings on the hillsides above the mines, rather than the extensive terraced housing of the real world; the poor conditions in these tenements [worse than the terraces in the real world] drove a good deal of emigration to elsewhere in the Union, and in particular to New Wales.
Many towns and most villages are in the same place as their equivalents in the real world, as are the more major roads [as all of these date back to before this world began to diverge from the real world]. However, because industrialisation did not begin until the nineteenth century the detailed layouts of the towns, as well as the placement of infrastructure such as markets, canals and railways, differ greatly from the real world cases. Some place names also differ from those of the real world.
As in the real world the ancestors of many of the people now living in South Wales came from outside Wales, brought in to mine and work there. As in the real world, many of these case from elsewhere in Britain, but unlike the real world many also came from Hanover, Prussia or elsewhere in the Union. This is reflected in the names of some of the working men's clubs found there, such as the Hanover Club, the Prussia Club and the Patagonia Club. Because of this immigration there is a distinct north-south split among the Welsh population [much as in the real world], with the north tending to be more nationalistic.
With the growth of Wales, some of the ministries of the Welsh government have moved out of the crowded city of Cardiff and into the less crowded parts of the valleys to the north of it. In particular many of them are located in the town of Treforest, where there are good transport links into Cardiff. Most of the Welsh government founts [computers] are located in Treforest, along with many departments of the University of Wales, especially the Department of Mines which forms a significant part of it, and is a world leader in the development of clean energy technologies.
Another similarity to the real world is the large number of spoil tips on top of the Welsh mountains, where the useless material that was mined has been dumped, this being the cheapest way to dispose of it. As in the real world in many places this has completely changed the profile of the mountains, and there have been a number of incidents of poorly placed tips collapsing in vast landslides and causing numerous deaths. Because of this some have been removed or restructured for stability, but most of them are now covered in species of bambou, whose deep roots are intended to bind the tips together and prevent them from collapsing, as well as provide a harvestable resource and remove carbon dioxide from the air. They are also planted with species intended to detoxify the spoil. However, some worry that the use of bambou to stabilise the tips will lead to the entire tip coming down at once rather than parts of it over time. There are also issues with the bambou spreading to areas where it is not wanted.
Because of the different history of the country in this world the national anthem of Wales is different to that of the real world.
The flags shown on this page are taken or derived from those shown on the Flags of the World web site. They are used here without permission but for personal use only and not for profit or commercial gain.