THE OCTUPLE ALLIANCE
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The Octuple Alliance was formed with the signing of the Treaty of Athens in 1926, following the invasion of Britain by the New Commonwealth.
This treaty formalised the merging of the Atlantic Alliance (formed by the French, Dutch, Russians, British, Spanish and Portuguese against the New Commonwealth), with the Hextuple Alliance (of France, the Ottoman Empire, Britain, the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands, Denmark-Norway and Sweden against the Russians) which grew from the perceived desperate need for protection against the New Commonwealth. The Atlantic Alliance was itself formed by the merging of the Iberian Alliance (or Spain and Portugal against the New Commonwealth in the Americas) and the Triple Alliance (of France, the Netherlands and Russia against the New Commonwealth).
The Octuple Alliance is based in the city of Strasbourg. Originally in France, the city has been given a special status as equally part of all of the nations of the Alliance, replacing the previous scheme where the capital moved between the capitals of all of the members of the Alliance on an annual basis. It is there that the representatives of the Alliance nations debate matters of import to it.
There are a number of treaties and agreements that regulate the relationships between the nations of the Octuple Alliance, over and above those encoded in the original Treaty of Athens.
However, the Octuple Alliance has proved less than fully effective over the years. This is partly because some of its members consist of old enemies (such as the Russians, which the old Hextuple Alliance was formed to defend against), but mainly because of the perceived self-interest of the individual nations making it up overriding the greater good of the Octuple Alliance as a whole. This self-interest hindered the Octuple Alliance during the Philippine War of 1955 to 1958 as the Spanish government refused to allow the other nations of the Octuple Alliance the freedom to operate within its territory that they would have required to be fully effective. Despite efforts to avoid a repeat of this, the same problems of perceived self-interest are again hindering the Octuple Alliance from acting in a fully unified manner against the 1995 New Commonwealth invasion of Brittany, in France.
The Netherlands Republic (also known as the Dutch Empire) is the greatest sea-faring nation on Earth, and has been for some three hundred years. However, it is no longer as pre-eminent in this area as once it was, with the New Commonwealth, the French and the Holy Roman Empire all gradually increasing the strength of their fleets. Despite this the Netherlands Republic, founded on trade, remains very strong, with holdings and colonies around the world. Most of these are quite well developed, the older ones with canal and railway systems, the newer with railways alone.
The capital of the Netherlands Republic is at Den Haag (the Hague), which is the home of the Stadtholder and the Netherlands government. Den Haag was the first city in the world to have an elevated railway system providing public transport for its inhabitants.
However, since the New Commonwealth took over Britain in 1923 the Dutch have been concerned about their homeland being cut off from the rest of the Empire in the event of New Commonwealth hostilities. As such the Dutch have moved most of their government to their oldest and largest major colony of Cape Town, and this now functions as their second capital. Because of this, and because its centralised position also helps in the administration of their far-flung empire, Cape Colony has a status within the Empire equal to that of the Netherlands themselves. As another effect of this, since 1923 there has been a great deal of emigration from the Netherlands themselves to the various Dutch colonies around the world.
The Netherlands Republic is ruled by a hereditary Stadtholder, normally from the family of Orange. However, it also has an elected Parliament (though the franchise is limited) and is the most democratic and liberal of the major powers, with free scientific enquiry and something resembling a free press.
The state religion of the Netherlands Republic is Calvinist Protestantism. Although Puritanism as practised in the New Commonwealth is a form of Calvinism, the Dutch and the New Commonwealth versions suffered a split in the eighteenth century due to irreconcilable political differences between them. Because of where and who they are, the Netherlands Republic is one of the most religiously tolerant nations on Earth, and people of all faiths (or at least, in reality, all Abrahamic faiths - Christianity, Judaism and Islam) may worship there as they will.
Although in theory quite similar, religiously, to the New Commonwealth, the Dutch are much given to ostentatious displays of bright colours, as well as ornate clothing and architecture. This apparently derives from a national desire, led by the Stadtholder who was in charge in 1923, not to be confused with the New Commonwealth in any way.
The Netherlands have the highest level of technology in the world. As such Dutch is, along with French, one of the world's most common languages, particularly as regards scientific and technical terms.
Because of the small land area of the Netherlands, over the years much of their industry has moved to their colonies.
Since the mid-eighteenth century the Netherlands have been an ally of Portugal, based on their mutual dislike of the Spanish.
The Empire is currently ruled by Stadtholder Willem VIII, who was appointed in 1980.
The basic unit of Dutch currency is the Guilder.
The Dutch flag is what is known as the Netherlands Double Princevlag (Double Prince's Flag) with added white stripe. That is, two sets of red-white-blue stripes divided by an extra white stripe. ['Princeflag' is the early name for the Dutch tricolour; it was not uncommon to have the stripes twice (a double Princeflag) or even three times (a triple Princeflag), and sometimes an extra white stripe was added between the blue and red stripes. That is the case here.]
France is a long-term rival with the Dutch for sea power, trade and colonial rights. It is the second most technologically developed of the great powers, and has the second most powerful navy in the world after the Dutch. Its empire, founded on trade, is a large one, and with it France is one of the major world powers. Their control of the Suez Canal and the west bank of the Red Sea also gives France a good deal of power.
Like the Dutch, the French government is concerned that the New Commonwealth's invasion of Britain could cut off its northern ports from the rest of their empire. However, as they also have a number of significant ports on their southern coasts and in the Mediterranean, they have shifted a good deal of their focus to them rather than the Dutch approach of simply moving their effective capital to a colony. As such the cities of La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Arcachon and Bayonne have all been developed into major ports.
France is ruled from the Palace of Versailles by King Louis XX, who came to the throne in 1958. He rules with the assistance of an Advisory Council from the three Estates (the nobility, the church and the common people). This developed from the Council of State. He also has a much more exclusive Cabinet to assist his rule. Although the King is very much an absolute ruler, the people of France are quite free, within certain bounds relating to sedition and religious tolerance. Various reforms over the years have greatly reduced the feudal nature of France, helping to avoid any stresses that might had led to a revolution. The prosperity of the nation also helps to keep the population from becoming restive, but nonetheless, if the proscribed bounds are exceeded in the presence of one of the secret police, a French citizen might easily find themselves in the infamous Bastille prison.
France has long been, and remains, the arbiter of fashion and style for Europe. As such French is, along with Dutch, one of the world's most commonly used languages. However, with no French revolution, French cuisine remains largely the reserve of the nobility and is not widespread outside of it.
France is currently in a great deal of danger. Despite its being well-defended, in 1995 the New Commonwealth successfully invaded and established a foothold in Brittany. Its forces have been pushing forward through France ever since. France is the first Great Power that the New Commonwealth has attacked on its home soil, and despite a great deal of French resistance, they are holding their own. Although the other members of the Octuple Alliance would quite like to assist the French against the New Commonwealth invaders on land, the French wish to defeat the invaders themselves, and are only accepting help on the naval front. If the situation worsens, however, the French will be left with little choice but to accept all the help they can get from of the other members of the Alliance.
The front line in France runs along the Loire from the coast, up the river Sarthe between Alencon and Le Mans, close to Alencon and then to the west of Argenton and Caen to the coast. The New Commonwealth has occupied Cherbourg, Brest and St Nazaire. However, they are devastated, as is much of the landscape of the occupied areas. Retreating French forces have destroyed roads, harbours, bridges, railways and infrastructure generally, but the New Commonwealth has installed new floating harbours at various places along the coast and works to rebuild the infrastructure. The countryside around the front line is crowded with refugees fleeing the fighting.
The French currency is the Livre. Other units of currency are 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 dark blue field with three golden fleur-de-lis on it in an inverted triangle known as the 'France Modern'; this is the flag used by France since 1365.
This is the youngest of the great powers in its current form, having been formed in 1864 during the Bosporus War from a coalition of the German-speaking states of central Europe united under the Treaty of Berlin. This basically undid the split of the original Holy Roman Empire after the Thirty Years War. Because of its being based around the older core states of Prussia and Austria, it has inherited the major world-wide trading and political empire that Prussia, in particular, had built up.
The Holy Roman Empire in Europe stretches from the Baltic to the Bosporus, maintains defences against all of its neighbours, and has a large standing army. It includes the parts of Europe that used to be within the Ottoman Empire, that were accepted into the Empire in 1865.
Given its position locked between the other major European powers, the Holy Roman Empire, like Prussia before it, is a largely land-based power, though it also has a strong navy, if not one on a par with that of the Dutch. However, unlike the Dutch, its larger land area and population in Europe has also led it to develop internally at the expense of its foreign holdings.
Like the Dutch, the government of the Holy Roman Empire is concerned that the New Commonwealth's invasion of Britain could cut off its northern ports from the rest of their empire. However, as they also have a number of significant ports in the Mediterranean, they have simply shifted a good deal of their focus to them rather than the Dutch approach of simply shifting their effective capital to a colony. As such Thessaloniki, Trieste, Kavalla and Durres have all been developed into major ports.
The Holy Roman Empire is ruled by an Emperor, currently Emperor Frederick V, who was crowned in 1984. The Emperor is elected for life from the Imperial Assembly by the representatives there. Berlin is the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
In reality more of a confederation than an Empire, all of the states making up the Holy Roman Empire send representatives to the Imperial Assembly in Berlin, where they debate and vote on the issues of the day. The number of representatives that a state sends varies with its population in a non-linear fashion, so that representatives from the larger states cannot, individually, outvote huge swathes of the smaller states. How representatives are selected varies from state to state; some are very democratic, others autocratic. The Emperor approves or disapproves of policies sent from the Assembly, acting, with his Advisory Council, as an effective upper house.
Because of its size most of the industry of the Holy Roman Empire is contained within the borders of the Empire itself rather than being spread across its colonies. Also because of its size, the Holy Roman Empire is one of the more cosmopolitan states, particularly known for its religious tolerance, containing as it does Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Jewish citizens. This tolerance has also made the Holy Roman Empire home to many expatriates, particularly from Britain (after the New Commonwealth invasion of 1923), Belorussia and the Ukraine (both after the returning of their regions to Russia at the end of the Russian War in 1925), and many of their descendants live there still.
Partly because of the Holy Roman Empire being formed during and because of a war against Russia, there is a lasting tradition of cooperation between the nationalities making it up growing from the necessity of such then, and the continuing presence of threats to the Empire as a whole today. Of course this is not to say that the internal politics of the Holy Roman Empire are not tumultuous and at times violent, with occasional ethnic and religious strife, but in general the nationalities of the Empire have more reasons to remain together than tear the Empire apart.
The basic unit of currency in the Holy Roman Empire is the Thaler.
The flag of the Holy Roman Empire is a combination of the Prussian and Austrian flags, with a band of squares in the colours of all of the other states making it up running along the border between them.
Geographically the largest empire in terms of land area, the Russian Empire also has the largest standing army of any nation on Earth. However, it is very limited by its lack of development, so that despite its vast size it is not any more powerful on the world stage than nations such as France or the Netherlands. It is the least socially, politically and technologically developed of any of the great powers and has a relatively small population for its size, though it is considerably more developed and populous than Tsarist Russia in the real world. Because of this there are large areas that are very sparsely populated. It also has the smallest navy of any of the major powers, being limited to coastal operations only. It is further limited by continuing terrorist problems in parts of its empire, particularly the former Turkey, northern Chipangu [Japan] and India (which, with no single strong European state being in control of the sub-continent, allowed them to eventually win the Great Game of this world and take over the remnant of the Mughal Empire, though not without a fight).
The major Russian ports are on the Black Sea, the Arabian Sea, and at Calcutta. This is particularly the case since the New Commonwealth invasion of Britain in 1923. All of these are linked to the rest of the Russian Empire by extensive rail links, and even to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Trans-Siberian Railway, completed in 1968.
The western and southern parts of the Russian Empire are far more developed than the far eastern parts (including northern Chipangu). However, the continuing New Commonwealth threat in the Far East has led to the establishment of large, often isolated, military bases in those regions. Many of these are essentially large, self-sufficient, military cities. Many in the military consider a posting to such a city to be a harsh punishment.
The Russian Empire is ruled in an autocratic fashion by the Tsar, currently Tsar Peter V, who was crowned in 1991. Serfdom still exists, but is not as harsh as it became in the real world. There were no major serf revolts in the eighteenth century to bring harsh repression down on the common people.
The Russian Empire is divided into a large number of different regions. These include:
Most of these are ruled by the Russian nobility, but particularly difficult and/or rebellious regions are ruled by military governors.
The Russian armed forces include people from all of the different ethnic groups found across the Russian Empire. In particular the Sikhs, Ghurkhas, Cossacks and Chipangese all have reputations as fearless fighters for the Tsar.
Peter the Great existed much as in the real world. However, there was no Catherine the Great, so Russian modernisation was significantly slower, having to wait until the reign of Nicholas I the Great (Tsar from 1793 to 1811), who was largely responsible for the industrialisation of Russia. Although he did modernise Russia technologically, he did little to improve society there. Since his death his successors have allowed the country to lag behind the major powers again. In particular Russian society and politics are ill-adapted to the needs of the modern age.
The basic unit of Russian currency is the Ruble; this is divided into one hundred Kopeks.
The Russian flag consists of three equal horizontal stripes of, from the top, white, blue and red.
This is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by King John VIII, who was crowned in 1950. It has colonies of various sizes around the world, including Macau, in China, which falls under the auspices of the Estado Português da India (Portuguese State of India). The largest regions in the Portuguese Empire are the two Brazilian Territories, Matto Grosso in the north, and Minas Geraes in the south.
Since the Revoluçao Dourada (the Golden Revolution) of 1944, the Portuguese capital has been the Brazilian city of Salvador Bahia [Salvador], and the Portuguese Empire as a whole has been enjoying a renaissance in the arts and sciences. Although it still has some way to go before it catches up with the major powers such as the New Commonwealth, the French or the Dutch, they are still advancing and making significant contributions to science and technology. They are a member of the Octuple Alliance.
Since the mid-eighteenth century Portugal has been an ally of the Dutch, based on their mutual dislike of the Spanish.
The basic unit of Portuguese currency is the Mil Reis; one Mil Reis equals one thousand Reis.
The flag of Portugal has a white background, with, in the centre, a 'new' shield consisting an outer red band containing seven gold castles and an inner white shield containing a cross of five small white shields. Over the entire shield is a gold crown which is closed, with five stems.
This is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by King Alphonso XV, who was crowned in 1968, and is a member of the Octuple Alliance. Spain has been rather left behind by the march of technology, though its large South American empire means that it still retains a fair degree of economic power.
Ever since the Portuguese Revoluçao Dourada the Spanish crown has been worried that the same thing might happen to them, and so have solidified their control over those they appoint to rule their foreign colonies. This has led to a general increase in level of control the Spanish state exerts over its citizens, and a general decrease in the effective competence of those it appoints, to the dislike of many of its citizens. However, so far the government has managed to retain the support of a majority of its people.
The basic unit of Spanish currency is the Escudo.
The flag of Spain consists of three equal horizontal stripes of, from the top, red, white and gold or yellow.
Denmark-Norway is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by Queen Margaret III, who was crowned in 1940. Denmark-Norway is something of a nation in decline, having lost its overseas holdings of Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands to the New Commonwealth early in the twentieth Century, leaving only the Danish peninsula and Norway. Although they have tried to gain some colonial holdings elsewhere in the world, they have had no success in this, though there a number of expatriate communities around the world, partly arising from the New Commonwealth takeover of Britain in 1923.
Because of their lack of foreign holdings they have little industrial power, most of which is spent on maintaining their military at full strength, to the detriment of the rest of the country. They are a member of the Octuple Alliance.
The basic unit of Danish currency is the Gold Krone. Other units of currency relate to this as follows: One Gold Guilder is one Gold krone or 8 Marks or 128 Skilling.
The flag of Denmark-Norway is the same as that of Denmark in the real world - a white cross with the vertical bar offset towards the left of the flag, on a dark red background.
This is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by King Charles XVIII, who was crowned in 1971. Quite closely allied with Denmark-Norway, they are a member of the Octuple Alliance, although much of their attention is kept focussed on the perceived threat of Russia rather than that of the New Commonwealth. Not heavily industrialised, Sweden does, however, export metals and minerals to the rest of the Octuple Alliance, and has major road and rail links into Russia. Although they have tried to establish some colonial holdings elsewhere in the world, they have had no success in this, though there a number of expatriate communities around the world. As with Denmark-Norway these partly arise from the New Commonwealth takeover of Britain in 1923.
The basic unit of Swedish currency is the Daler.
The flag of Sweden is the same as that of the real world - a gold cross with the vertical bar offset towards the left of the flag, on a blue background.
The only Muslim member of the Octuple Alliance, and one of only four Muslim nations in the world, the Ottoman Empire is much reduced from its greatest territorial extent by the actions of the great powers. In particular the Russian invasion of Turkey in the 1860s that took Turkey from the Ottomans and forced the European part of the Empire to join the Holy Roman Empire greatly decreased its territory. All that is left of the Empire is Arabia, Egypt and the Sudan, and even this is split down the middle by the French control of the Suez Canal and the west bank of the Red Sea.
The Sultan rules what remains of the Empire from his capital at Alexandria. He would very much like to restore the power of the Empire, but realises that, presently, he has no chance of doing so, even by betraying Europe to the New Commonwealth. As such he is forced to simply resent the rest of the Octuple Alliance, and in particular the Holy Roman Empire, which now includes parts of what was the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire is massively corrupt. Bribery is rampant and there is very little that money cannot buy there, but also very little that those without money can achieve there. People from the Ottoman Empire are behind significant amounts of the organised crime in Europe and beyond. Unsurprisingly, the government and people of the Ottoman Empire are Muslim much more in name than in observance.
The currency of the Ottoman Empire is very complicated. The basic unit of currency in the Ottoman Empire is the Piastre. This relates to other units of currency as follows: 1 Lira/Pound is 16 2/3 Altilik or 20 Beshlik or 33 1/3 Uechlik or 40 Yuzluk or 50 Ikilik or 100 Piastres/Kurush or 4000 Paras or 10000 Minas or 12000 Aspers.
The flag of the Ottoman Empire is a white crescent moon and star on a red field.
Italy remains divided into nine small and squabbling states, some of them members of the Octuple Alliance, some of them not, consisting of:
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