THE NEW COMMONWEALTH
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The New Commonwealth (or The New Commonwealth of the Americas as it is known officially) is the largest and most powerful single nation on Earth. It is an austere totalitarian theocracy covering all of north and central America, Greenland, Iceland and Britain, plus most of Chipangu [Japan], the islands of the Pacific, the Philippines, England-in-the-South [New Zealand], New Eden [New Guinea] and parts of Terra Australis [Australia]. It has an average level of technology, but is the most populous of the Great Powers, with some four hundred million citizens, and a vast manufacturing capability, helped by its public education system, 'virtuous economics' and strong work ethic. Its capital is the city of Boston.
The government of the New Commonwealth believes that the New Commonwealth has been appointed by God as the Saviour of the world, and that all of the other nations of the world as threats to its One True Way. As such they need to be converted to that One True Way. By force if necessary. And as such all religions other than Puritan Calvinism are banned. For this reason there are many underground organisations of Catholics and others who are persecuted by the state for their beliefs all across the New Commonwealth.
It has been ruled since its formation in the late seventeenth century by the Cromwell's, who fulfil the office of Lord Protector. Below the Lord Protector is the Council of State, who advise and administer the New Commonwealth for the Lord Protector. Below the Council of State is Parliament, an organisation of one house to whom members are elected by the eligible voters of the New Commonwealth. These include all male citizens over the age of twenty-one, and all married women over the age of thirty, all regardless of race. Parliament has no power over the Lord Protector or the members of the Council of State, but can legislate on many matters, and advise those above it, or even, very rarely, censure them.
The various Cromwells have sometimes been puppets of other interests in the state or the Council of State, but have also often been their own men.
The people of the New Commonwealth commemorate (in church ceremonies), but do not celebrate (via parties or festivals), Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.
There are extensive canal networks in the New Commonwealth, along the east coast, around the Great Lakes, around Cromwell [Seattle], and up the Mississippi River. These are complemented by the various New Commonwealth railway lines, which cover the entire country. They have a Ship Railway across the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Mexico, which allows ships to be carried from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans without having to sail around South America. [As was suggested in the real world by American engineer James Eads in 1879, and described here.]
Levels of taxation - tithes as they are known in the New Commonwealth - are high. Much of this taxation funds the government, military and church, but some also funds the most extensive welfare state in the world, which includes medical care and educational funding.
Most locations in the New Commonwealth have some level of defences and military presence. However, this is especially the case in those places on the fringes of the New Commonwealth, such as Chipangu, central America, the Philippines, Britain, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The last three sets of defences, acting together, allow the New Commonwealth to essentially prevent any ships other than their own passing into the North Atlantic.
The New Commonwealth has very austere and plain styles of dress, food, architecture and so on. Buildings, while often impressive and well-built, are always very plain. The only major use of colour and decoration is in propaganda, particularly posters promoting Cromwell (the Defender of the Faith), and organisations such as the 'Puritan Youth' and the 'League of Maidens'. Sometimes gravestones are also highly decorated.
There is lots of patriotic fervour, with marches and so on as the soldiers of the New Commonwealth go off to and return from war, or just their National Service.
Many things are prohibited in the New Commonwealth, particularly since the rise of Puritan conservatism in recent decades. Alcohol, tobacco, singing, dancing and theatres are all banned. Despite this, parts of the New Commonwealth are rife with illicit breweries, stills and, where the climate allows, tobacco patches. Illicit dancehalls and other places of entertainment are also quite widespread.
The only legal type of theatre is in the production of passion plays, stylised theatrical events held by (and usually in) a church to illustrate some biblical truth or virtue. Public readings, usually of the bible or similar approved texts are also widespread. Some of these last for hours or days and are performed as signs of devotion. In recent years there have also been some attempts to introduce a form of propaganda-cabaret to the New Commonwealth, where the show as a whole attempts to turn the people and nations opposing the New Commonwealth into a laughing stock. Semi-legal in nature, these have not really caught on outside of a few of the major cities, where they are considered to be very avant-garde.
Sporting events are very popular in the New Commonwealth, and most towns and cities have their own teams who play the Puritan World versions of football, athletics, hurley and so on. Live large-scale chess games, with people playing the parts of the chess pieces in appropriate costumes as a form of 'performance game', are also quite popular. However, no sports or games are played on a Sunday.
Coffee shops are quite common in the New Commonwealth, as coffee is one of the few vices not to be prohibited there. These are often also secret drinking parlours, with alcohol being served in coffee cups. This last is often referred to as the 'Scottish Blend'. There is also quite a lot of smuggling of prohibited goods (drink, books and so on) into the New Commonwealth from South America or from Europe.
Puritans refer to one another as 'Brother' and 'Sister'. They may also address one another as 'Good Puritan', if they do not know the name of the other person. The Arch-Bishops of Boston and the Bishops of other bishoprics are referred to as 'Your Grace', whereas lower members of the clerical orders are referred to as 'Sir Priest'. Deacons, Sextons and so on are referred to as 'Master' or, if of obviously lower economic status, 'Goodman'. 'Goodwife' (or 'Goody') is the Puritan form of address for any woman, even including those accused of witchcraft.
People from outside the New Commonwealth usually refer to its citizens as Puritans, and that word has, over the years, changed from its religious meaning to be synonymous with 'citizen of the New Commonwealth'.
There are still many people of Native American descent in the New Commonwealth. However, the various Native American cultures have been largely wiped out, with the people having been 'civilised' by either the Spanish or the New Commonwealth. In many cases this included the removal of children from their families to ensure that they were raised in a 'civilised' fashion. There are various underground groups struggling to keep the old ways alive, but they are as persecuted as underground Catholics.
Permits are required for many activities within the New Commonwealth. The most important of these are the Permit to Travel, required for anyone who wishes to use any means of transport other than walking or to visit places outside their home area. It also acts as a form of 'bus pass', being issued and paid for on a periodic basis.
The New Commonwealth uses the Julian calendar rather than the more accurate and more modern Gregorian calendar. This is because the Julian calendar was used in England when the original Commonwealth was formed, and because the Gregorian calendar is seen as a false Catholic system not to be used by godly folk. As such dates in the New Commonwealth are significantly out of step with those of the Octuple Alliance and their colonies.
Puritan theology is a version of Calvinism. As such, it asserts that humankind is basically sinful, but that, despite their sins, by God's decree some will be saved through the righteousness of Christ. However, in this life no-one can be certain what their destiny will be, whether they will be saved or not. The experience of conversion, in which the soul is touched by the Holy Spirit, and the heart is turned from sinfulness to holiness, is an indication (though not an infallible one) that one is of the elect. The experience of conversion is thus central to Puritan spirituality, and much of Puritan preaching is concerned with it.
In particular, there is great concern over questions regarding how conversion comes about. Is it in a blinding flash, as with Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, or does it happen following well-defined stages of preparation? Also, how can actual conversion be distinguished from the counterfeit, and why will not everyone be converted?
Puritan spiritual life stresses self-discipline and introspection, through which they seek to determine whether particular spiritual strivings are genuine marks of sainthood. Although full assurance is never attained, the conviction of having been chosen by God fortifies the Puritans to contend with wantonness in the rest of the world, ensures their faithfulness to the church, and allows them to endure the hardships involved in trying to create a Christian commonwealth in the world. As such Puritans do not hesitate to pursue any evils that they may discover with the Holy Wrath that the Lord inspires in them.
Puritanism has not been static and unchanging over the years. At first it simply stood for reform of worship, but it came to attack episcopacy - church government by bishops, as in the Church of England - as unscriptural. Instead most Puritans were Congregationalists and Presbyterians, with churches run at a local level.
With the opposition that caused the creation of the New Commonwealth in the Americas Puritanism was strengthened and revitalised. Over the years the external threats to the New Commonwealth and its way of life have caused the Puritan church and its teachings to become more and more centralised. This was also encouraged by those in the New Commonwealth less opposed to a rigid Church hierarchy, in particular those descended from non-Puritan Christians who fled England, such as Anglicans. All of this led to the recreation of the posts of Arch-Bishop and Bishop, and the imposition of a defined religious heirarchy by Lord Protector Hiram Cromwell 1888. With this the Lord Protector and the Church have become more and more closely linked, until, now, the New Commonwealth is essentially a totalitarian theocracy. [More on Puritan religion in the real world can be found here.]
The existence of the posts of Arch-Bishop and Bishop has always been opposed by more hard-line Puritans, so that the power of these posts has varied in synchrony with the power of the more relgiously moderate Puritans. In the present day their power is somewhat limited, but still far from insignificant.
Priests in some places, and particularly in the military, are political officers to keep an eye on people and their ideology. It is also not unknown for the New Commonwealth to use torture, drugs and brainwashing to ensure the conversion of sinners when this is considered necessary.
The many churches in the New Commonwealth are not named after saints, as this is considered too 'popish'. They are named for their location, or for Christ alone (for example, the Cathedral of Christ in Boston).
The basic unit of currency in the New Commonwealth is the Pound, which subdivides into Shillings and Pence. There are also Crowns and Half-Crowns; these are not named after the crown of any earthly ruler, but instead after the Crown of Christ.
The first flag of the New Commonwealth was a modified version of that of the Massachusetts colony (which was a red field with a square white canton in the top left corner). In consisted of a red field with a blue-edged white cross centred on it, representing all of the colours of the old British flags. The top left corner was white with a green tree insignia in it.
The current flag of the New Commonwealth was adopted in 1870 on the orders of the reactionary Lord Protector Hiram Cromwell. It is a plain black field with a white cross in the centre (rather like a black and white version of the real-world Swiss flag).
The national anthem of the New Commonwealth is something of a very similar nature to "I know that my redeemer lives" from the real world.
A minor kingdom on the periphery of Europe, strongly allied with France, Britain has had little role in world affairs since the civil wars of the seventeenth century and the loss of its American colonies in the creation of the New Commonwealth. Ruled by a succession of despotic monarchs as a French satellite, with a mixed English and French nobility and an essentially powerless Parliament, its industry and general development have been continuously held back by royal extravagance and tyranny, as well as a great deal of internal strife and emigration to various parts of the world by those, such as Protestants, persecuted by the system. As such Britain never became a world power. There has never been a United Kingdom; instead British Monarchs have been King or Queen of Great Britain only. The thrones of England and Ireland never unified, and the Kingdom of Ireland remained in personal union with the Kingdom of England, its throne occupied by the reigning King of England.
Although not industrialised to any significant extent, Britain does have extensive mineral resources, particularly iron and coal, that they exported to many nations on the continent, but chiefly to France.
Because of its lack of industrialisation, few canals or railways were built in Britain, and those that were, were built mainly as prestige projects rather than for practical reasons. The few British railway lines all run to and from London, to the London Terminus station, that is roughly where Buckingham Palace stands in the real world. This has a large switching and goods yard behind (to the west of) it. From it lines ran to Dover, Harwich, Folkestone, Edinburgh (via Newcastle and York), Portsmouth and Southampton, Tilbury (on the north side of the Thames) and Gravesend (on the south side of the Thames). British roads are very poor, and most cities still have cobbled streets, where the streets are paved at all.
As another side effect of Britain's lack of development, the Fens of East Anglia have never been drained. As such they are still a wild place, a hideout of rebels and religious dissidents. Ely is still an island. Also, Wales is known as 'West England', and there is no city of Birmingham [as it could not grow much with the transport links provided by the canal system].
The flag of Britain under the Bourbon Dynasty was similar to the modern real world Union Jack, but without the diagonal red stripes representing Ireland.
In 1923 Britain was invaded by the New Commonwealth, and was quickly put under Puritan control. Since then it has suffered many purges and uprisings, but has also been forcibly industrialised. New railway lines from London to Liverpool, Bristol and Plymouth have been built, to improve access to the major trans-Atlantic ports. Most British lines are a mixture of the European and New Commonwealth gauges, although the old gauge is slowly being phased out. Because of its forced industrialisation, Britain is now quite heavily polluted in places.
Britain is now one of the Major-Generalships of the New Commonwealth, ruled from the Palace of Whitehall in London by General Paul Windebanke.
New defences have been put in place along the coastlines facing the continent, along the south and east coasts of England and on both sides of the mouth of the Thames.
From having had a population of about eight million at the time of the invasion, the population of Britain has been swollen by Commonwealth immigrants to roughly twelve million in 1995.
There are a number of clandestine British groups working to remove the New Commonwealth from the country. These are considered freedom fighters by many British, but terrorists by the New Commonwealth. They include:
Note that because Britain never developed into a major power, the English Channel is generally known as 'La Manche'.
Before the Puritan takeover the Throne of Ireland was occupied by the reigning King of England, with the kingdom of Ireland in personal union with the Kingdom of England [There was no equivalent of the Act of Union of 1800 in the real world which merged the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.]. The Kingdom of Ireland was governed by an executive under the control of the Lord Lieutenant, who was generally an English noblemen. Under the Lord Lieutenant the kingdom was run by the bicameral Parliament of Ireland, made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and which met in Dublin.
Because of the more Catholic monarchs of England and their interest in using Irish troops, Irish Catholics have been more tolerated down the years than they were in the real world. As such, the proportion of Protestants in Ireland before the invasion of the New Commonwealth was less than in the real world, and the Irish were some of the more sincere supporters of the English monarchy. This meant that the Irish in the more devout parts of Ireland, such as Ulster and Belfast, were those who resisted the New Commonwealth invasion the most, and paid a heavy price for it in atrocity and death.
As is the case in England, since the invasion the Irish population has been swollen by immigrants from the New Commonwealth to about fifty percent more than its value before it.
The flag of Ireland under the Bourbon Dynasty was the traditional Irish design of a gold harp on a blue field.
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 game use only and not for profit or commercial gain.