Turn 1: 1490 to 1520Post link: http://facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1427292&p=46102054&viewfull=1#post46102054
Events of the years 1490 to 1520:
-Dragons are tamed on a systematic scale for the first time in Europe, with the first intelligent dragon hatched in Burgundy. Several kingdoms invest into the collecting of dragon eggs, with mixed results.
-The New World is discovered by Christopher Columbus, and colonization of it begins in earnest. Further exploration reveals much of the east coast and potential routes into a new ocean.
-Heretical Christian movements come to a head in this time when increasing criticism of the church, its practices, and doctrines undermine it extensively in Germany, leading to a collapse of authority of the pope in many parts of northern and western Europe. -Guru Nanak founds Sikhism.
-A dreadful new disease called “syphilis” ravages several armies and countries, before burning itself out and mutating into a more benign form.
-The Italian wars break out. Initial French gains in the north of Italy begin with the seizure of Milan and progress slowly in a number of campaigns until they are finally checked by a joint Neapolitan-Papal army. Further conflict with Venice and Austria forces them to give up many of their acquisitions and checks their advance, but not without the conquest of both Milan and Genoa, securing French control in the northwest. This war is also major for being one of the first demonstrated uses of dragons in warfare, kicking off a race in Europe to find eggs.
-The Ottoman Empire goes to war with Persia over Dulkadir and contest supremacy over the Kurdish lands. Persia is also engaged in frequent conflicts with the Timurids as well, who have been slowly imploding over the past few decades.
-With Spain unified, it makes sense to focus activities on expansion overseas. A strong navy is required, and to build a strong navy, you need good onshore facilities. The first drydock in the world is built in Spain, whereby a ship is constructed in an empty lock before it is flooded and allowed to float out. It can be drained with a ship inside for repairs as well, reducing the time and expense of repairing and constructing ships, making it worthwhile despite the high initial cost of construction. Another interesting advance has been the rediscovery of the old Roman concrete, made by mixing ground up rubble with lime and gypsum. Thus a strong mixture which can set, even underwater, may be used in construction. Its first immediate use (not fully realized) has been to use it as a form of cement or mortar in construction.
-At the start of this period, the Spanish were already conducting regular campaigns into the last Muslim territories in the south, and in 1489 captured one of the last major settlements. Grenada was already a tributary state and long weakened, but the emir Boabdil rebelled against their rule. A painfully long siege ends with the conquest of Grenada in 1491, with extensive use of gunpowder weaponry in the conflict. After the war concludes, many of the alchemists and philosophers are pardoned and invited to participate in the newly established Council of Discoveries, which is given patronage by the crown to research into astronomy, cartography, and alchemy.
-Later, in 1512, an invasion of Navarre is mounted by the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon as French influence over the country slips over the course of the Italian wars. The defending force crumbles easily, for it had little strength in the first place. Without crucial French support, many cities and castles in the land surrender one after the other, before finally being annexed in October. Despite an attempt at pushing out the Spanish in several subsequent events, a viceroy is appointed and Navarre is firmly subdued by 1516 when the crowns of Castile and Aragon finally unified. To secure an alliance with the Venetians, they are ceded control of Sicily and Malta. Instantly this causes a rebellion by the nobility of Aragon, angered by the loss of these crown lands. Taxation takes a severe hit as well, temporarily crippling finances. The rebels are only crushed after several lengthy campaigns into Aragon.
-In 1514, the new queen Joanna decides to formally end the inquisition, having overseen the expulsion of many Jews and Muslims already in Iberia. This is followed up by a similar repeating of the end of the inquisition in Aragon when she becomes queen of that country in 1516. This understandably infuriates the church, which demands a restoration of these institutions. Joanna’s response is one of increasing autocratic power, culminating in her expelling several bishops and advisers that disagreed with her. The nobility become angry with this, but are held in check by the threat of Hapsburg domination. When Charles tries to send her to a nunnery, the plot is uncovered and he is ousted before Joanna forms her own separate branch. Needless to say, this destroys relations with the Hapsburg completely and the scandal rocks the crown to the base.
-Overseas, Spain has contented herself with exploration and the establishment of colonies, punctuated by genocide. The Caribbean is settled and has a large number of sugar plantations established in them (the native population however collapses in this period), although later labor shortages leads to the import of many indentured servants and later slaves to fill up shortages. A viceroy is appointed (the first being Christopher Columbus), who is responsible for both exploration and development. He conducts a number of voyages that chart the coasts of Florida, Yucatan, and Guyana respectively.
-With major labor shortages becoming a problem in Cuba by 1516, a fort is built in Guinea with the intention of buying slaves from the local kingdoms. Beads, iron, firearms, and other manufactured goods are greatly appreciated. Further attempts at expanding inland are hampered by widespread disease which restricts the Spanish to the shore. And despite the massive hunger for gold and silver, not a great deal has been extracted so far (most resides in Peru and Mexico), although what has been extracted is locked in vaults by the monarchy. Attempts to find more reveal the existence of two wealthy empires on the mainland, in addition to a new ocean and several more areas suitable for settlement.
-A new type of ship design develops from the medieval carrack at this time, marked by the fore and aft castles becoming taller and the ship developing multiple decks with heavy gun batteries. England has also developed some of the first ships purpose built for artillery pieces, utilizing heavy cast-bronze guns to give a powerful broadside. Unfortunately, stability (due to the artillery and the massive height of the vessel) is a major issue on these ships, limiting their effectiveness. In addition to this, the patronage of several astronomers helps greatly with the charting of the heavens, although some have noticed strange anomalies in the orbits of the planets and the existing theory, which so far hampers reform of the calendar.
-Despite the wars of the roses having been seen to have ended with the union of the houses of York and Lancaster, there are still many pretenders to the throne. These are duly crushed by a reformed English army, which has adopted an increasing number of harquebusiers. Inspired by the Hungarian Black army, it adopts an unusually high number of firearms (1 for every 4 men) at high cost, allowing them to shatter the weak rebel forces and securing England for the house of Tudor. The Tudors also seek to emulate the Hungarian renaissance too, with patronage of various artists and the construction of many magnificent buildings in the new style. New Italian fashions become popular, while the number of printers and bookbinders grows steadily, although the church demands a crackdown on those printing illegally translated bibles.
-To pay for all this, increased taxes are pressed upon the nobility, who gradually lose power to the centralizing monarchy. The exchequer is reformed to have longer terms and promote stability, helping to draw in massive revenues for the crown. This is used to pay for the reformed army, which clamps down on any dissent. Additional monies are granted to the universities (both of them) and grammar schools in addition. John Cabot eventually receives patronage to go explore the new world after hearing of Spanish success in exploration, eventually resulting in the discovery of a land with rich cod fisheries. Within a decade, fishermen begin to winter over there before returning to England, which concludes with the grant of a royal charter to settle “Newfoundland” to the merchants of Cardiff.
-A shaky peace treaty is later signed with the Kingdom of Scotland, which until recently had been conducting regular raids into northern England. Increasing centralization in both kingdoms has led to a decline of skirmishes and cattle raiding, although travel through these districts is still dangerous. Elsewhere, a similar cautious foreign policy is followed through, where a treaty is signed with France in return for promising to not invade or threaten shipping while they are busy with their war in Italy. The Irish clans and chieftains are hostile however, and make further attempts to push into the pale. Wales also remains under the rule of powerful Welsh lords (where English law does not apply) too, and many lands still remain under control of the church, which are often exempt from taxation and secular law too.
-During the first years of the 16th century, the Danish crown became interested in securing dragon eggs. A new law is passed, which automatically puts all eggs under ownership of the crown. A bounty is offered for all eggs, and in the course of 15 years, about 6 eggs are secured. One egg dies before they figure out to keep it heated in a steam room. The other 5 hatch, but 3 of them possessed little to no intelligence and became hostile towards the servants entrusted to them. The final two (from the same species) hatch successfully and become amenable towards humans (the dragon seemingly chooses its handler shortly after hatching). It requires feeding lest it runs away, but it stays loyal to the handler for life. Wild dragons are now much more hostile however due to the theft of eggs, and frequently attack isolated villages in Norway and Sweden. The Swedish monarchy complains angrily about the disturbance of the dragons to the Danish.
-A number of harquebuses and other guns are brought to the kingdom, where the royal army is outfitted with 1 to every 6 men. A heavier variant known as the musket is also developed, with a supporting fork and used to support infantry and in sieges. Several administrative reforms are also made in the wake of the Kalmar union ending, culminating in the dissolution of separate military structures in Denmark and Norway to be replaced with a single standing army for both nations.
-To placate the nobility (who have lost control to this newly reformed government), the monarchy is reformed to become elective (among the rulers sons) while a “Riksdag” in similar form and powers to the Swedish variant is formed, granting the nobility the power to legislate on certain matters in addition to raising all new taxes. It is this parliament that grants the crown a monopoly upon all dragon eggs in the country. Raising more monies is of course difficult, and from time to time there are shortfalls for the provisions of the army and the two dragons.
-A carefully crafted marriage sees the daughter of the English sovereign married to the son of the Danish sovereign, cementing an alliance between both houses and expected to be upheld by both parties whenever a call for war is issued by either side. Taking inspiration from the English patronage of explorers, the Danish then send an expedition to Iceland, where they build a new port on the western coast before sailing to the Norwegian crown land of Greenland. On arrival, the explorers find nothing but ruins abandoned only a few decades before, with many skeletons stunted in size, the last marriage registered a century beforehand. Good fishing grounds have been discovered for cod however.
-Towards the late 1510s, the Danish successfully raise their first two dragons to adolescence, at which point they develop the ability to fly. Their two handlers eventually train these creatures to the point they can issue them instructions to fly up into the sky and report on what they see from up above. They also tend to jealously guard their trainers, in one instance killing a wild dragon that tried to attack them.
-Naples, being in close proximity to the bloody wars of the city-states to the north, has managed to get its hands on a new type of firearm. Heavier than a harquebus, it requires a small stand to rest the long barreled piece on. When used to support an infantry body, it is exceptionally deadly and a terrifying sight to behold, firing shot an inch thick. These guns are not the only new addition to the crown, for ever since the discovery of an intelligent dragon; many attempts have been made to recover live eggs. These are mostly failures, save for 2 successful large hatchlings that are slowly trained and are sent to an isolated royal estate with several nobles and their retainers to take care of them.
-The Duke of Milan encourages the French to invade Naples, hoping to ally with the French against the Venetians. France invades in 1494, throwing the many city states into disarray. He marches into Naples unopposed and seizes several towns and cities before eventually being forced to leave after an alliance is hastily signed with Venice, Austria, Ancona, and the Pope. They provide enough men that they eventually defeated them in several engagements and reduced the captured city of Naples. In a typical Italian tradition, the Milanese then switches to the winning side and help push out the French. The death of the French King further hampers later conquest attempts until 1500, when the new French king feels confident enough to invade Milan instead. This time, the anti-French coalition has begun to splinter with Venice having acquired Sicily and Malta, leading to major disagreements within the faction. France is much better prepared this time, and in 1502 seizes control of Milan.
-The Kingdom of Naples is putting quite a lot of stock into their new dragons, having not only put aside a separate estate to raise them, but to create a small academy to ensure that the handlers (many tend to be from common backgrounds) have a fully rounded classical education and have been trained as squires beforehand. A tourney (less common these days in the dying days of knights) is held as well, with the King hoping to find several nobles worthy enough to handle these dragons.
-Other military reforms are also conducted at this time, focusing on the raising of a professional standing army, armed with pikes, swords, and firearms in addition to crossbows. The navy is also expanded, with several galleys and carracks bought from abroad or constructed at considerable expense. They lack firing platforms for cannon however, limiting their effectiveness somewhat. These reforms are expensive (the nobility have protested frequently against the raising of taxes, while large debts have been incurred by the monarchy), but couldn’t come at a better time. French and Milanese aggression led to outright war, causing the Neapolitans to hastily sign alliances with the rulers of Venice, Ancona, and the Pope himself. Even these are not enough to stop the French.
-Throughout the early 1500s, Anti-French coalition begins to fragment as several cities switch sides to France. With Spain and England staying out of the conflict, it leaves the French a lot of room in Italy, eventually resulting in them cracking Genoa and seizing control of Corsica. By this stage, the Pope excommunicated the French sovereign, who in 1511 managed to defeat a combined Austrian-Venetian army at the battle of Brescia. Humiliated, the Venetians are forced to cede Brescia to the French. With 1514, came the final battle to assure French domination of Italy, with another attempt made to conquer Naples.
-At the battle of Naples, the French lay siege to the city, using powerful new siege guns to reduce the fortifications. They are however ravaged by a syphilis outbreak and demoralized by supply shortages. Salvation however came in the form of a carefully timed attack. Most of the garrison had been removed beforehand and skirmished with the French forces while reinforcements were gathered. The two nobles who had to care for the dragons were forced to come, unexpectedly bringing them to the battle. There, the dragons followed their owners into battle and ended up attacking the French army. Already demoralized, their infantry squares were broken up by the beasts, one of which was reported to burn some of the soldiers as well. The French army broke and fled, encouraging many Italian cities to switch once more and rebel. In addition, the Pope and Venetians managed to gain manpower enough to finally check French expansion at a final battle in 1519 at Padua. Brescia was ceded back to them once more. However, the war has taught the combatants the military potential of dragons, leading to the start of a race to gather as many eggs as possible and set up facilities for them at once. Genoa and Milan have also been extinguished as a result and are under French domination.
Ruskie – Kingdom of Mutapa
State Religion: Mbira Dza umgqomo
-Although Great Zimbabwe is passing into history, many of the technical achievements there and from abroad have been saved or refined. Mules and donkeys are bought from Arab traders in addition to carts, which make an appearance at this time along with camels. The King here is keen on the exploitation of salt mines and other mineral resources in his kingdom, which he holds under a monopoly and exports to the Arabs. Small riverboats are also used for the transport of ores and livestock as well when the geography permits it. Gradually, Mutapa extends its influence into several new grazing lands and outcrops with salt, permitting additional herds of livestock.
-Small bands of warriors frequently patrol these trade routes, although one of the major problems is frequent raiding and attacks on trade caravans. A traditional old method has been to leave a freshly slaughtered cow for good luck, which usually keeps bandits away from an area for some time for fear of being consumed by flying monsters. However, a new way to protect villages has been adopted after having seen Arab architecture. By constructing hewn stone stones around settlements it is usually enough to protect from attack. The addition of wood and plaster roofs and ladders for entry into a hole on the side is a further additional step usually taken.
-The Mamluk Sultanate, with its extensive connections to the Orient and Occident, profits well from the trade in spices and other luxuries. They have noticed a recent Portuguese innovation in shipbuilding and after hiring several European shipwrights, manage to replicate the Caravel. A light ship with lateen sails, it can sail almost anywhere, has a shallow draft, and handles superbly. Its main drawbacks however are its small size and relative fragility. The Mamluks are also copying the Ottoman habit of hiring Italian gunsmiths with the aim of restoring and improving their army through the construction and refinement of handguns. These culminate with an arsenal dedicated to producing heavy muskets, which when used correctly in a supporting role are powerful indeed.
-The Sultan has set the country to hasty military reform, especially with the threat of Ottoman expansionism on the horizon. A new standing army based on the Ottoman system is adopted, although not without problems. Most of the Mamluks refuse salaries in favor of land, forcing the new military to depend on mercenaries and common people recruited into its ranks. The confusingly obtuse taxation and feudal obligation system also hamper the raising of soldiers and their payment. The Mamluk nobility resist any attempt to raise taxes, and on their own constitute a powerful (if not obsolete) force that hampers centralization and tax collection for the state.
-Nonetheless, training of this new army begins, with ruthless drilling and 1 in 4 men possessing a gun with which to support the main infantry body. A new form of armor composed of a mixture of chain mail, metal plates, leather, and padded cloth creates a somewhat flexible although heavy set. Despite wearing Thawbs and Kuffiyya to keep the sun off, they are uncomfortable and the soldiers tend to overheat in the hotter parts or times of year. A new ration system is also introduced, whereby dried food and a flask of water is given to a soldier in a satchel for each day. A large number of camels are also set aside to carry these soldiers supplies, with many new depots set up along the major roads. Despite the many clever intentions made, the amount of supplies needed is a massive financial drain on the Sultan and takes the edge off of the speed of the military.
-As is typical, there is a spate of mosque and school reconstruction at this time, mostly focusing on repairs and reaffirming the power of the dynasty. One mosque being reconstructed is a special case however, for it has been expanded to include room for a dragon to stay within. When the locals found out, they rioted and smashed up the local administration offices. When two eggs are eventually recovered and hatched at considerable expense, they put a further drain on the Sultans finances, eventually leading to him incurring severe debts. What’s worse is that the local dragon populations have been annoyed by the theft of their eggs, and now attack humans on sight. However, the hatched dragons are successfully trained for fighting.
-Separate treaties are signed with the Ottomans and Aq Qoyunlu for peace, although there are some problems. The Ottomans demand control over the Mamluk vassal of Dulkadir and to block the movement of Persian and European diplomats, whereas the shah of Persia wishes assistance in curbing Ottoman expansionism. The Mamluks give protection to a Venetian ambassador, infuriating the Ottomans and causing them to declare war on and seize Dulkadir in a short and bloody campaign in 1518. Persia responds by declaring war soon after they negotiate a treaty with Venice, having been promised assistance. The Ottomans make significant early gains in the campaign.
-Given that expansion north is difficult, there is a focus on utilizing the new army to push south along the Nile and along the Red sea. They successfully capture and subdue these areas, and use a dragon for the first time by ordering it to swoop down and panic several ships defending a port, before they are then assaulted by cannon and musket fire before boarding.
-Despite being a brutal and barbaric civilization that practices human sacrifice, the Aztecs are keen about keeping their homes clean. Already Tenochtitlan has a small army of slaves to sweep and clean the streets, but in a new innovation, the emperor decrees the construction of several sewers to transport out filth. Dug in the middle of a street and covered with slabs, it is a quick and efficient way to remove filth (excepting when it blocks up). Another interesting new development has been the use of ironworking after a number of traders, explorers, and shipwrecked mariners in addition to missionaries teach several bronzeworkers and artisans how to work bars of iron into crude tools and to repair existing tools and weaponry. The Aztec have a late start however, and even by 1520 the knowledge of this technology is severely lacking.
-Dragons have always been a part of Aztec mythology here, but with the exception of rumors they have only interacted through a symbiotic relationship with several states. During warfare, one side will sacrifice many human bodies to their dreaded gods, before piling them on a stepped pyramid. There, several dragons will feast on the corpses before communicating with the emperor and priests, allowed to talk to them in tongues. Afterwards, these dragons assail the opposing enemy forces in return for the dead corpses.
-With these dragons, the triple alliance has created a powerful empire, with individual city states contributing tribute for fear of being ravaged by dragons. The Aztec has recently risen in the past century to predominate over the other cities, and by 1520 they end up nearly doubling their size. The downside of course is that the increasing population of these dragons requires more sacrificial captives, leading in turn to warfare escalating and several rebellious areas becoming devastated. The latest rebellion was triggered by the death of a local Aztec nobleman from a strange disease sweeping the eastern part of the empire, giving the locals a chance to rebel. The rebellion imploded before the army could be mobilized, for the rebels succumbed to this new disease.
-Other than these flaws however, their civilization is uniquely organized and innovative. They grow maize, beans, squash, tomatoes, pumpkin, chili and other crops in artificial islands reclaimed from lakes, in addition to clearing jungle and planting raised fields in lands without ready water supplies (although irrigation is employed). Obsidian is mined and exported abroad, while used domestically for cutting tools and weaponry. Mines have been established for the extraction of metals such as gold, silver, copper, and tin in addition to other ores, with small smelters clustered around them (the scale of production is low however). There is a public education system in addition (largely geared around service to the state) and envoys that travel freely throughout much of Mesoamerica. Despite attempts to discover other great civilizations, they find themselves to be alone in the world, save for several white men that stumble throughout the Maya peninsula.
-While cannon have been used extensively for several centuries already in Europe, the Venetians are investing heavily into a new method of making them. By casting them as a solid bronze piece, they can be made stronger, fit onto a carriage more easily, and thus be more maneuverable. In spite of these, even the lighter guns require a large team of horses to move them around, and once in battle they are rarely moved. Another recent technological advance is the rediscovery of Roman concrete, made from mixing lime, gypsum and ground up rubble to make a strong building material. Inevitably with little experience of how to use it, it is only initially used as a replacement for mortar.
-The Duke of Milan encourages the French to invade Naples, hoping to ally with the French against the Venetians. France invades in 1494, throwing the many city states into disarray. He marches into Naples unopposed and seizes several towns and cities before eventually being forced to leave after an alliance is hastily signed with Venice, Austria, Ancona, and the Pope. They provide enough men that they eventually defeated them in several engagements and reduced the captured city of Naples. In a typical Italian tradition, the Milanese then switches to the winning side and help push out the French. The death of the French King further hampers later conquest attempts until 1500, when the new French king feels confident enough to invade Milan instead. This time, the anti-French coalition has begun to splinter with Venice having acquired Sicily and Malta, leading to major disagreements within the faction. France is much better prepared this time, and in 1502 seizes control of Milan.
-The Venetians commission the casting of a great number of guns in addition to the manufacture of many new “explosive shells” filled with gunpowder and ceramic pieces. Their fuses mean they explode at random times, sometimes exploding in mid-air or not at all. Several other reforms are carried out among the mercenary groupings and conscripts that comprise the Venetian army. A standard uniform is adopted with use of coloring to differ between different sides and groups, while there is a focus on the quality of troops as well, hoping to make units that could withstand shocks and were well drilled.
-At great expense, further investments are made into defensive fortifications and the army at large. Forts built in a new style with ramparts to deflect cannon shot are constructed along the borders and nearby coasts, with most of them intended to see off Ottoman and Milanese incursions. Spain has helped offset the costs slightly with the insane measure of granting Malta and Sicily to Venice, effectively doubling the Venetian tax base and allowing them to begin pushing their influence elsewhere. The Ottomans have made little attempt at present to push into Venetian territories, for they are presently occupied in both Persia and in Eastern Europe. To further limit Ottoman expansion, the Venetians sign several treaties with the crowned heads of Spain, Austria, and even Persia as well to promise assistance in the case of a war. In 1519, Persia sends a request for assistance to Venice, asking them to declare war on the Ottomans after the seizure of Dulkadir and their campaign into Persia.
-After hearing of Cristobal Colon and his discovery of the New World, another great expense is made to outfit five caravels with farmers, craftsmen, blacksmiths, patricians, and soldiers to land on the Island of Trinidad for colonization. Spain has granted the island to Venice to seal and alliance, which is renamed Nuovo Venezia. The colonists immediately set to growing coffee and sugar in addition to killing most of the native inhabitants through disease, enslavement, and executions. Within five years, most of the native population has perished, causing major labor shortages. Many have also died from disease there and on the journey. In addition, two ships were wrecked and the cost of resupplying the colony (in addition to the new military reforms) nearly bankrupts the republic.
-The Venetians also are following hot on the trail of the Portuguese. Unlike the Portuguese however, they lack a significant number of ports and stops to rest at as they sail around Africa, and most expeditions either perish or are forced to turn back for want of supplies by the time they reach Fernando Po. Portuguese hostility also limits their activities, which frequently damages the colony in Nuovo Venezia, which is not only a financial drain but survives on regular supply ships from the homeland.
-The Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes are granted protection by the Venetians in return for allowing them to base their fleets of galleys there and a small tribute to be paid to Venice in return for maintaining a fleet to protect them. The Ottomans take these moves by Venice as one of containment, and become increasingly hostile by ramping up skirmishes and encouraging pirates to attack shipping. While tax revenues and trade continue to prop up Venice, their costly foreign policy is starting to incur severe debts.
-Throughout the early 1500s, Anti-French coalition begins to fragment as several cities switch sides to France. With Spain and England staying out of the conflict, it leaves the French a lot of room in Italy, eventually resulting in them cracking Genoa and seizing control of Corsica. By this stage, the Pope excommunicated the French sovereign, who in 1511 managed to defeat a combined Austrian-Venetian army at the battle of Brescia. Humiliated, the Venetians are forced to cede Brescia to the French. With 1514, came the final battle to assure French domination of Italy, with another attempt made to conquer Naples.
-At the battle of Naples, the French lay siege to the city, using powerful new siege guns to reduce the fortifications. They are however ravaged by a syphilis outbreak and demoralized by supply shortages. Salvation however came in the form of a carefully timed attack. Most of the garrison had been removed beforehand and skirmished with the French forces while reinforcements were gathered. The two nobles who had to care for the dragons were forced to come, unexpectedly bringing them to the battle. There, the dragons followed their owners into battle and ended up attacking the French army. Already demoralized, their infantry squares were broken up by the beasts, one of which was reported to burn some of the soldiers as well. The French army broke and fled, encouraging many Italian cities to switch once more and rebel. In addition, the Pope and Venetians managed to gain manpower enough to finally check French expansion at a final battle in 1519 at Padua. Brescia was ceded back to them once more. However, the war has taught the combatants the military potential of dragons, leading to the start of a race to gather as many eggs as possible and set up facilities for them at once. Genoa and Milan have also been extinguished as a result and are under French domination.
Notes: Territories may be subdivided, joined, or reorganized on paint if you wish. This includes colonizing a part of an unclaimed province, or a diplomatic treaty where two parties can literally redraw the border. Three dragon breeds will exist (small, medium, and large) with the large ones native to Europe, medium to the Far East, and small in the Middle East.
Turn 2: 1520 to 1550Post link: http://facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1427292&p=46140138&viewfull=1#post46140138
Turn quote: I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist. – Martin Luther
Events of the years 1520 to 1550:
-The reformation spreads and diversifies throughout Europe, eventually resulting in several major regime changes, destabilization, religious wars, rebellions, and changes in society at large. The two main movements are the protestant and reformed churches, both seeking alternative ways to god. After several councils are held in the latter part of this period, the “Counter-Reformation” is launched with the aim of reviving the effectively Medieval Church and adapting it to modern challenges in addition to stepping up conversion of both heretics and heathens. The Jesuits are the most famous, establishing branches outside of Europe throughout the New World, Africa, and Asia.
-The price revolution begins to take effect around this time, with the main factors being the increase in world bullion supplies and production, increasing urbanization, and the shift from older systems of land tenure towards the growing of crops and livestock for profit. All this contributes not only to the total sum of monies in circulation, but the speed they travel at. Inflation rates rise considerably, leading to the collapse of price controls that held strong for centuries and a stagnation of wages. The livelihoods of many rural peasantry and urban workers slowly decline or stagnate, and many farmers are forced to either invest into their lands or sell off what little they have and move. Traditional welfare systems break down as the monasteries and churches are dissolved and appropriated by the state, leaving many homeless, infirm, and needy without care or shelter.
-Dragons are slowly being systematically tamed and now bred throughout Europe, with many monarchs and princes attempting to secure eggs and breeding grounds for the creatures whenever possible. Given the lack of experience with them and massive bounties for their collection, many eggs are inadvertently destroyed, stillborn, and other dragons are driven away entirely. The largest states end up setting up successful breeding programs under patronage of various crowned heads, although some unlucky people are utterly bankrupted by the cost of them. Whole teams have set to the task of trying to retrieve eggs, leading to many wild dragons migrating even deeper into the mountains or eastwards into less populated areas. Indeed, the number of attacks increases too as many dragons become especially fierce when cornered like this. By mid-century, the wild dragon is clearly on a decline at the same time that the domestic variant is growing in numbers.
-The Italian and Ottoman wars (1521 – 1536):
--The French, still wishing to expand their influence in Italy, signed an alliance with the Ottoman Empire in order to cause more problems for the Holy Roman Empire. The ongoing reformation further destabilizes the Empire as many German princes begin to convert and openly rebel against the Emperor, often plotting with his enemies. The Imperial forces strike first by besieging several principal French cities in the northeast, while the other Italian states move on Milan. Unfortunately that summer, the Ottomans seized the city of Belgrade after using heavy artillery batteries to reduce the city. Milan was captured by the Italians, but Imperial forces were routed before Antwerp was besieged and later taken by the French in 1522.
--As the 1520s progress, successive Ottoman campaigns conquer much of Hungary, prompting the Italian and Imperial forces to divert resources to that theater. Spain intervenes in the war on the side of the Italians, giving significant forces towards an invasion of Morea spearheaded by the Venetians. This angers France, which declares war on Spain and invades Navarre with the old pretender for the throne in an ultimately unsuccessful campaign. In 1528, the Ottomans crush a Hungarian army and kill their king, leaving a small power vacuum. The Imperial forces quickly seized the opportunity by annexing what was left of the Kingdom and pushing hard on the Ottomans. An invasion by the Persians in Dulkadir, the joint Italian and Spanish forces in Morea, and the Commonwealth in Moldavia lead to the Ottomans being forced to give up many of their recently acquired territories. Ambitious naval invasions on the behalf of Egypt are thwarted by the Ottomans, and eventually the Ottomans sue for peace in 1534.
--The biggest gainer from the war is quite clearly the Habsburgs, whom have doubled their existing territories and neutered the threat in the Balkans. Using this, they manage to finally force the French out of Italy. A naval invasion on behalf of the Neapolitans removes the French from Corsica (aided by a fire breathing dragon), which is subsequently added to their kingdom. The French give up the Duchy of Milan, which is divided between the Venetians and Austrians in 1536. Embarrassed by their conduct of the war, the French begin focusing on internal religious problems, as now the reformation has taken root. The Holy Roman Emperor however now must contend with managing over the vast new territories he has acquired, in addition to clamping down on the Protestants. The other problem is that their newly found power is a considerable threat to the overall balance in Europe, which is tipping dangerously in their favor. Many peace treaties saw the movement of dragon eggs to the Habsburgs, giving them one of the largest dragon forces in Europe.
-As the 16th century progresses, the need to service ships in ports and to carry heavy objects (such as bronze artillery pieces) in and out of them is finally satisfied by the advent of the lifting tower, a type of crane which is well suited to this purpose. Another recent advance is a development of muskets and harquebuses. By putting a flared barrel on the end and using the gun to shoot a grenade a short distance, it effectively increases the range of men armed with grenades and turns these firearms into effective “hand mortars”. They are unreliable and dangerous to the users as well however, making them unpopular among many soldiers.
-An army is sent to the borders of the Aztec Empire, led by Hernan Cortez. Composed of a few hundred men and woefully ignorant of the lands around, it discovers the Aztec Empire and attempts to make war on it. Unfortunately, they march inland to find only scenes of desolation, for many towns and cities had been cleared by outbreaks of disease. When they finally do reach the Aztec capital, they discover that a number of wild dragons have been feasting on the dead bodies there, and after being shot at by the Spanish in an attempt to drive them off, are attacked and routed by the dragons. They are forced to flee to the hastily established port of Vera Cruz, although along the way many of the Spanish died. The next expedition has better success, aiming instead to go to the land of “Biru” when the natives there tell of a land full of gold.
-On arrival in “Biru”, the conquistador Pizarro finds an empire devastated by disease and civil war. They trick and capture the Emperor Atahualpa, before demanding that a room is filled with gold for his release. After this room is filled with said gold, the Spanish execute him anyways and take over the empire for themselves. The conquest is celebrated by the Spanish monarchy and Pizarro is made viceroy of the new colony (before being murdered). The viceroyalty of New Spain is granted permission to conquer and settle the new territories as well, with much of the Caribbean coasts also being settled with hordes of migrants from Iberia and slaves from the African west coast. The native nobilities are purged as well (often leading to bloody and violent rebellions), with the governors of these territories gradually replacing the native ruling elite with imported Spaniards (typically their family members).
-John III and Joanna II of Portugal and Spain respectively, create the house of Aaron, a new ruling house that combines the crowns of both countries into a new political union. Despite this, the kingdoms (including Aragon, Algarve, and Navarre) constituting it still possess their own languages, legal systems, customs, and other internal methods of administration. Attempts are made later on to promote the use of Spanish as the language of administration, although this is considerably difficult. The common people still tend to speak their own regional tongues, and only the nobility seem to adopt the Spanish one on any scale. To help build up support at home, the monarchy establishes a parliament which the nobles can attend, although most of the time they use it to protest the raising of taxes and the imposition of various new laws. Frequently the monarchy sidesteps it, undermining its legitimacy.
-A non-aggression pact is signed with the King of France, promising not to interfere in French colonial efforts and to respect shipping in addition to not intervening in any wars that would involve the other power. Unfortunately, this does not stop the spread of pirates and privateers, who have begun to raid the treasure fleets bringing back silver and gold from Peru. Coming from all nations, these privateers raid shipping from the New World to the African coasts, where a number of forts have been set up to control some of the trade in the area. Slaves are becoming steadily more useful, and are being imported to work the plantations in the Caribbean or the mines in Peru. Unfortunately for Spain, despite claiming or conquering vast stretches of land in the New World, much of it is still uninhabited or loosely held, into which many of these slaves and freemen tend to run away into.
-The Spanish send a military force to Morea to support the Italian League in their wars with the Ottomans, which eventually leads to the intervention of France in the war. An invasion of Navarre is made by the French, which is ultimately unsuccessful. Despite this, the French show the battlefield prowess of the dragon they brought with them, having set the main city on fire and terrifying the inhabitants. It is later felled after it is repeatedly shot at by the Spanish defenders, with the body crushing one of the houses.
-The English crown has been convinced (largely through observation and reportage on battles but also from the growing threat of France and its multiple dragons) of the necessity of securing both dragons and suitable facilities for their care and training. Luckily, the rugged landscape of Wales has provided a number of eggs (some of which were hatched successfully). The two resulting dragons were reportedly of good stock as well, according to the foremost philosophers. They have been kept in a royal estate in Wales so far, with sheep reserved for them (at some expense). King Henry has also deemed it necessary to invest into the navy as well, coming up with a new design. By removing the fore and aft castles of a galleon and reducing the overall height of the vessel, one makes a ship which is built to hold cannon and is easier to direct without it capsizing (if the experience of the Mary Rose is to be accounted for). Unfortunately, they are poorly built for this purpose and consist of modified old ships, making these new “razees” less effective than they otherwise could be.
-The Pale, long having since slipped increasingly from English grasp is now at the forefront of policy once more. Henry finally gets around to declaring himself “King of Ireland” and appointing a military governor to subjugate the place. This normally takes the form of the governor burning down rebellious villages and constructing tower houses throughout Ireland. In the later phases, a dragon is even brought along to terrorize several chiefs into accepting the English sovereign as their own overlord. In order to deter French ambitions in Calais, the defenses there are also rebuilt and strengthened (complete with star walls and heavy gun batteries) to prevent an easy siege. Unfortunately, the port has begun to decline in recent years, a trend which has not been easily reversed.
-After the spending of some considerable monies on these new military campaigns to subjugate the Irish and fortify Calais (not to mention feeding the dragons), the King has found his inability to secure a divorce very annoying. After the pope refused to grant him a divorce, King Henry breaks with Rome to establish his own church and to rid the country of papal influence. To this end, it meant the complete abolishment of canonical law, the execution of everyone who disagreed with him, and the dissolution of the monasteries. The latter led to a massive boost in income from both the acquired estates now in his possession and all of the relics, books, lead from roofs, etc being sold off to raise monies.
-Continuing the somewhat frugal economic policies of his father, he finds great interest in exploration and settlement more so than warmongering (the Irish are fair game), giving patronage to more explorers to the New World and funding expeditions to settle “Newfoundland”. The first expedition arrives there and sets up a permanent settlement, before several more bring a few hundred additional colonists over the next few years. Most of these newcomers settle the rest of the island in small homesteads, and although the climate is similar to home, they eke a miserable subsistence existence from the soil, the only worthwhile economic activities generally being the raising of sheep or fishing cod.
-One of these ships however, is wrecked upon the island of Bermuda, forcing the inhabitants to found a settlement and survive on it for over a year before they sent out a message for help and received it. The island is deemed sufficient for settlement as well, and several more ships delivered people and supplies, it becoming a good base and stopover point for naval vessels. Unfortunately, it had little in the way of any good agricultural land or fishing grounds, with the only things here seeming to be a type of timber and some salt. There are whaling opportunities, but the Danish and Livonians have started to interfere in whaling by this stage. Given that the movements of foreigners in these waters have become a recent concern, the English have also started to regularly employ spies to keep an eye on these activities.
-With royal interest in the capture and training of dragons, many significant moves have been made by the Kings of Denmark to secure this valuable resource. Over thirty years, only a sole egg was found by the diligent peasants and travelers seeking a monetary reward. It was discovered hidden in a cave, and when the mother returned many of the reward seekers were killed, an event which led to the rescinding of the bounty. Thankfully, the construction of cages and stables to hold dragons has made it difficult for them to easily part from their handlers too (they are specially reinforced too). In addition, by the 1540s, it was discovered that the dragons could be bred, and the resulting hatchling was much more pliable and accepting of human company. A book was written on the species and what of their behavior and physiology was known, in addition to their ages (the older ones are now well into their 70s). Secret maps of known nests were also made, with effort made not to disturb their locations.
-Denmark-Norway, having heard of increased interest in the New World, once again sends explorers and sailors to the northwest. Greenland is claimed for the crown once more, and a small fishing settlement is built along with a trading post and a mission to convert the local Eskimos. Trading ships gradually begin to take on the Dutch style, while the military vessels begin to copy the English style. Several new shipyards are established in addition, catering to both private and naval needs. Several have also been built for sailing the northern seas, as interest in Greenland has increased. A shipyard is built in Iceland too, mainly for the purpose of repairing vessels. An additional pier was also built to service supply ships, allowing explorers to only have to return to Iceland rather than to the homeland.
-As dragons have come to be viewed as an important tool in the monarch’s hands, a new task has been set for them in order to raise monies. Handlers are granted a royal charter to act for border patrols and to check tollbooths, with dragons being ordered to terrify smugglers and to protect people from highwaymen and other brigands whenever possible. The revenue raised is considerable, more so once the rescinding of the egg bounty leads to a decrease in dragon attacks. The dragons (some of which can seemingly voice desires) soon have herds of livestock set aside for them in addition to comfortable lodgings (in the form of converted stables and barns).
-Finally, the Danish crown manages to find new spots for colonizing by mid-century, starting with the establishment of a colony on the coast of Labrador (close by to English activities) for the purpose of cutting timber for the Greenland colony and fishing for cod. In the Caribbean, the island of Antigua is settled (despite half of the initial population dying from disease and hunger). To solve the problem of labor shortages on the island, the Danish sail to the West African coast looking for slaves, and find a local King who is more than willing to sell those slaves in return for firearms, beads and frying pans. A year later, he grants the next expedition permission to build a fort in return for an old bombard, which he proudly displays in the market on a stand.
-The reformation reaches Denmark-Norway, aided by the printing press. Preachers are frequently spreading the word of both the Protestant and Reformed churches, while Catholic authorities attempt to clamp down on their activities. The bible is translated into the respective languages of Denmark and Norway, which quickly goes on to become the most popular book in the country. Several peasant rebellions also break out at this time, and several churches are ransacked by people from opposing faiths. Various members of the nobility also tend to waver, while the Holy Roman Emperor demands the Danish King keep the duchy of Schleswig Catholic.
-Continued attempts are made by the Neapolitan state to breed and train dragons. There are some considerable difficulties with doing so, but eventually they manage to breed two more. In addition, they discover that dragons very much hate pepper after one of them ate a piece of old beef that had been flavored with pepper (to disguise the fact it had gone rotten). A new invention thus comes about whereby a cloth satchel is stuffed with ground pepper and is fired from a small artillery piece. Upon hitting the creature, it irritates them immensely and drives them insane. The only downside however is the cost and the atrocious range.
-The academy for the training of dragon handlers is extensively reformed, with a series of examinations introduced to find out the handlers best suited to the job. By the 1540s, they are the best trained in Europe, with some even leaving for other countries to attend to their dragons (enticed by very large bribes and wages). In the Italian wars, the Neapolitans use these dragons on several occasions, most notably to attack the city of Milan and in the invasion of Corsica, which sees the use of a fire breathing dragon to set the French fleet on fire. In the peace treaty, the island is ceded to the Kingdom of Naples.
Ruskie – Kingdom of Mutapa
State Religion: Mbira Dza umgqomo
-The latest King of Mutapa is one particularly interested in reforming his kingdom and improving agricultural yields so that he may sire many more wives. He contacts several Arab traders (and later Portuguese ones) and eventually coaxes several of them to come to his kingdom to reveal a new agricultural technique which is used elsewhere. By planting two fields and leaving one fallow before rotating them, one can produce much more from the land. In addition, he introduces several new iron working techniques and designs of various tools. Mutapa soon has a large number of new iron forges set up, with the intention of manufacturing picks for mining and hoes for agriculture in addition to ploughs.
-Despite these recent advances, much of the population are reluctant to adopt them. Thus in 1533, the King introduces a policy which loans out parcels of land to people for life (that is, once the tenant dies, it passes back into the crowns hands). Despite the implications of this, he is very willing to give the heir the tenancy of the land as long as he uses the new farming techniques and tools. Over the next two decades, this gradually leads to the estates held by the crown becoming rapidly much wealthier and more productive, in turn improving royal revenues. The techniques are soon copied by the nobility, who later copy the tenancy system and encourage the use of the new iron ploughs and crop rotation. It is still somewhat delayed however in the more isolated or poorer parts.
-With the increase of agricultural production, this naturally leads to an increase in population and by extension the size of settlements and private armies. The number of permanent towns established begins to rise, which is followed by the resettlement of Great Zimbabwe. New patrols are established to find and kill raiders, in addition to wars of conquest. Mutapa roughly doubles in size, aided by the virtue of having a much bigger population and having a better manufacturing base for weaponry and armor. As the Arabs are slowly pushed out, the Portuguese still seem keen to trade with Mutapa, although they seem to be more expansionary. They slowly push along several rivers, setting up trading posts and gold mines, while many Portuguese traders have started to appear in Mutapa (several of them being hired as translators and interpreters). The first firearms in the region appear.
-A new type of ship is introduced around this time, influenced largely by the caravel and galleon ship types, plus there is significant backing from the Venetians, who send over shipwrights during this time to aid in naval expansion. By building a cross between a normal galley and the galleon, one produces a ship that sacrifices little maneuverability in return for additional room for guns and mariners. They begin to be built in sizable numbers and are outfitted with another recent innovation adopted from Europe, the Bronze artillery piece. Not only are they a significant improvement over the old way of making cannon (by hammering metal rings together), but tend to fit better into maneuverable carriages too.
-All new recruits to the army are now granted two different methods of payment, some of which end up causing very strange divisions. The first is a piece of land, normally in newly conquered areas to which one is entitled after completing service. The other, is a payment in wages. Rural conscripts tend to take the land offer, whereas the urban dwellers prefer their wages to be paid in coin. The downside of the land grants however, is that the Mamluks must constantly grant out new parcels of land to their soldiers, necessitating further expansion.
-During the course of the Italian and Ottoman wars, the Mamluks finally manage to secure enough men and guns for a war on the Ottomans, aided by an alliance with the Persians and the European powers. The invasion begins in Dulkadir, backed by artillery and the Mamluk cavalry. After reducing several towns, the Mamluks attempt a naval invasion of both Anamur and Bodrum, both of which are repelled when the Ottomans coastal forts delay the invaders long enough for reinforcements to arrive. When the Ottoman reinforcements arrive, they end up forcing much of the fleet to retire after using great bombards, in turn stranding many soldiers on the beachheads. While this was unsuccessful, they were still able to secure the acquisition of many new territories in a peace treaty for both themselves and the Persians.
-In Cairo, a permanent embassy is soon established in the hopes of strengthening relations with the Persians (who are not only Shiite, but are a contending great power in the region too). When the war finally ended, several major efforts were made to reinvigorate education through the expansion of several existing schools and universities in addition to libraries with the spare monies secured from war indemnities. Furthermore, frequent trips begin to be made by scholars from both nations, while many valuable texts are also exchanged (although the laborious task of copying them by hand is a major problem). Despite these moves, Persian relations at the moment seem cordial at best.
-The Aztec, due largely to their contact with outsiders, have managed to import and refine several technologies. The French (who have begun to operate in the area) are keen enough to give the Aztecs such assistance. Metal casting is introduced initially, mainly to allow the Aztec to cast bronze artillery pieces (which are so small they resemble hand cannons) in addition to making simple iron tools that don’t last long when used. In addition, the French have assisted them in the construction of walls made of earth and rubble, made to deflect cannon shots whenever possible and soak up the shock of cannon fire.
-A great pestilence hits the Empire, killing nearly half of the population in addition to the Emperor himself. It not only cripples the army and administration, but prevents regular sacrifices to the wild dragons that live throughout the area. These dragons turn to eating the bodies of the dead, and later when the Spanish arrive they hunt them as well. While having saved the country, the severe loss of manpower and general degradation leads to a near complete social collapse, held together only by the timely arrival of the French, who assist with the construction of several earthen forts along the eastern borders and coast. Further attempts at the continued duties of normal life are hampered by both Spanish raids and the disease, although recovery seems to begin several decades later in the 1540s. A small French population has established itself here and intermarried with the locals, being a vital link to the outside world, bringing not only innovations but their skills as well. In addition, the Jesuits have started the construction of missions and the conversion of peoples whenever possible.
-Racing to keep up with naval developments in Europe, the Venetians begin to develop a new type of cargo ship designed for efficiency. Built to sail on transoceanic voyages with as small a crew and large cargo space as possible, its one major disadvantage is that it cannot be converted into a military vessel or handle well against any warships. They are however exceptionally popular and are quickly adopted by merchants, and are used on transatlantic voyages to the colonies and slave ports. Later on, a type of flammable and sticky liquid is invented to help set ships ablaze easily. By mixing oils, resins, and tars, one produces a substance that can be stored in a clay pot and be lit before it is thrown. The goo inside will stick to most surfaces and will burn unless extinguished with urine or sand, making it exceptionally useful.
-The war with France still being a recent memory, the Republic takes a step towards modernizing their army. Firstly, all existing mercenaries are disbanded and a system of conscription is introduced (much to the annoyance of many people in the country), with a focus on the training and equipping of men with harquebuses and pikes. Wages are unfortunately low however due to financial problems and the slow decline of trade to the east (the alternate route around the cape of Africa has been especially damaging), which in turn means many soldiers have to take on part time jobs to supplement their pay, impacting quality and angering urban workers that have been recently unemployed. Much of the budget has also gone towards the finding of dragons eggs (one is discovered, and the other is bought) and the raising of dragons, which means the construction of suitable facilities to tend for them and well-trained handlers as well. Frequently both the dragons and common soldiers suffer from the lack of organized finances, with the dragons often hunting in nearby states (annoying the peasantry and causing riots) and the soldiery bullying people into giving them lodging and food whenever they can get away with it.
-This new army is put to the test when a war flares up with the French and Ottomans. Despite many major early difficulties, the city of Milan is taken from the French in addition to the rest of the duchy, while in the east Morea is invaded. Aided by the Persian and Egyptian offensives, the Italians are also given major support by the Spanish, whose contributions effectively won the conquest of Morea. In the campaign itself, the Italians fare very poorly, with many soldiers having mutinied or deserted due to low pay and poor rations. The end of the war brings a positive result for the Republic however, ending with the cession of several territories to Venice, with some parts of former Milan and Morea being the main additions.
-The colony in Trinidad, having struggled somewhat, becomes economically self-sufficient around this time with the expansion of the plantation economy. The import of slaves solves up labour shortages, while the tariffs and duties earned from the new colonies helps to make up the budget shortfalls which recently afflicted the republic. Growing more confident, they construct a fort on the coast of West Africa to protect slaving interests, and begin to settle several more islands in the Antilles. This eventually leads to the appointment of the first Dogmaros, a type of governor whose job is to administrate and develop the colonial assets of Venice. A second one is appointed to manage activities in Africa, given the major delays in communications. He is also instrumental in achieving several brokered deals with the Portuguese (aided by the Iberian union) that give Venetians permission to anchor their ships in ports owned by Portugal.
-The foreign office of Venice seems to expand greatly in this time period as well, prompted mainly by the need to cultivate allies for the wars against the Ottomans and French. The commonwealth is courted and enticed into the war with promises of regaining the lost Moldavian territories, while Persia is also convinced to invade Dulkadir with the Egyptians. Further treaties are signed with the Neapolitans to import new firearms, while shipwrights travel to Egypt to help them design and build new ships. Overall, the efforts of the diplomats are greatly commended by the doge, who reserves little praise for the rather inept army. The financial situation seems to have improved as well, although many loans have yet to be repaid, and expected tariffs and duties fall short whenever a ship is wrecked or attacked.
-The Chinese have been long known as having invented and developed gunpowder weaponry centuries ago, but as of late their ability to manufacture and improve on these designs have worsened. Contact with powers to the west (through traders and missionaries) has led to the introduction of the harquebus, a simple matchlock gun that can be mass produced and deployed, although as of yet it is not widespread. In addition, a separate technological import from the west is the use of Roman-style concrete. This material is much like a thick paste that is used initially as a replacement for mortar, although it can also be used to make walls and smoothed surfaces with sufficient quantities of it, so it is used to help repair fortifications or the major paved roads.
-With eunuchs having become steadily more powerful and corrupt within China as of recent, the Emperors collaborate with the official bureaucracy to reduce their power. This takes the form of many brutal executions, tortures, purges, and the reduction of the eunuchs powers whenever possible. This of course led to several violent attempted coups and kidnappings of the imperial dynasty, ending with the first ban on eunuchs in the dynasties history after a dragon was convinced to attack the forbidden palace (before being cornered by several dragons hastily conscripted from the city). The downside to this of course, is the bureaucracy almost effectively monopolizes the state for themselves, leaving the nearly impotent emperor at the top of a nearly uncontrollable edifice.
-The Emperor instead diverts his attention towards reform and reorganization of the military. Mongols are hired in significant numbers to help make up the cavalry wings of this new army, while the new harquebuses are also manufactured in some numbers for them. Unfortunately, pushing through demands for additional manpower and supplies is troublesome under the imperial bureaucracy. The new army barely grows or receives the supplies it needs, although in the 1530s they are able to send a force into Mongolia and force the khan there to submit tribute and acknowledge the superiority of the middle kingdom. The khan is then granted some supplies and permission to conquer lands on behalf of the Ming as a client state. In return for autonomy and various privileges, he is to defend the northern borders.
-Several new academies are established with an updated examination system. Their purpose is to train people for either the imperial bureaucracy or to become officers and generals in the military. While somewhat innovative, these reforms are constantly hampered by the bureaucracy, and placements are frequently blocked. One of the few additional reforms pushed through however is the construction of a new large estate for the purpose of breeding and feeding dragons. In this estate, some new dragons are bred and are assessed for their abilities and potential uses. Given their neglect in recent centuries since the ousting of the Mongols, the dragons have often been forced to work on defending the borders, the delivery of messages and parcels, rides for some rich persons (on simple silk harnesses) and in administration.
-An attempt is also made to open up more contacts with the nations outside of China, mainly for the purposes of acquiring new information in light of the adventures of the European states. There is a hunt for eggs in India and Indochina (most of which are thwarted by the local authorities various monopolies or restrictions on the gathering of eggs), although some princes have been willing to sell off their eggs. In addition, they have contacted various European diplomats, merchants, and missionaries with the intent of finding out more about the European civilizations in addition to collecting gifts for the Emperor. Finally, envoys are sent to the Japanese daimyos, promising them assistance in their various wars (in which nobody is too sure who is ruling who and what). The arrival of the Portuguese in both China and Japan creates even more problems in the later part of this period.
-The Livonian Order (later Kingdom of Livonia) has always been a bit behind other countries in terms of technological and economic development on account of their geographic position. However, in these years they made many efforts to revive and modernize their aged medieval army. One of these efforts involved the importation of a great many harquebuses and muskets, followed by the establishment of several arsenals and gunsmiths for the manufacture of these guns. Cottages and many smaller smiths were also contracted to manufacture the needed materials for powder, shot, and the handguns. At around the same time, a growing interest in the capture and use of dragons led to the use of a sauna to heat and keep eggs warm during incubation. It was with this that the Livonians managed to successfully hatch the few eggs they acquired.
-In 1525, with the reformation underway and Livonia destabilizing and many converting to the new faith, the aging Wolter von Plettenberg, hero of the Battle of the Siritsa River leaves the order and declares himself “King of Livonia” and establishes a new kingdom in addition to converting to Lutheranism. Unfortunately, this comes at the price of having annoyed the sovereigns of Muscovy, Sweden, and the Commonwealth, who take offense to the upstart, especially one so isolated. Needless to say, the new Kingdom moves its capital to Riga and begins a policy of centralization, the creation of a standing modern army, and other administrative reforms as it moves from being a monastic state to a monarchy.
-Unlike most monarchies however, Plettenberg creates a new political system that strongly resembles the Polish and English parliaments. All freeholders who own land worth a lump sum of silver are granted the right to vote representatives to the Sejm (about 10% of all males thus hold the right) in addition to having the king elected as well by the Sejm. The nobility also enjoy a wide range of privileges, although unfortunately this strengthens localism and makes it difficult for the monarchy to raise taxes or armies. The establishment of a franchise also divides urban and rural persons too, leading to factionalism in the Sejm.
-One of the first landmark laws passed by the Sejm however (forced slightly by the urban areas needing cheap laborers) was a law which granted serfs the right to leave the land outside of a time which they were obligated to work on the land (so as to allow them to go to the cities to do work off season). Over the 1530s and 40s, the institution of serfdom begins to slowly disintegrate as many serfs either make (or borrow) enough money to pay rent or lease land instead. Wages begin to slowly climb, and the nobility, increasingly freed from their obligation to care for their serfs, start kicking them off the land and enclosing the land for livestock, the demand for which is steadily rising. The enclosure underway is considerably unpopular, resulting in several riots throughout the period, worsened by religious strife.
-The rather impotent central government can respond only half-heartedly, although those ruling are generally agreed on Lutheranism. All of the churches are taken over by the state and have much of their wealth confiscated (a much needed boost to money shortfalls) in addition to having the new bible publicly given out. German bibles are common among the nobility and in the towns, but the lack of bibles in Estonian or Latvian hamper this for the commoners. Literacy very slowly inches up at the same time as the reformation brings an interest in reading the bible for oneself. By 1550, half of the urban population can read some passages from the bible.
-The Livonians also copy the European craze ongoing for acquiring dragon eggs. A royal bounty is put out, and over the course of several years two eggs show up (both of which are successfully hatched). Of course, being pioneering days, beyond leaving the eggs in a sauna they have little idea of what to do next. A noble is bankrupted by the cost of feeding them until the crown steps in and nationalizes the creatures. Several peasants also become convinced of the magical properties of amber (believing them to be good for dragons as the creatures covet shiny objects) and begin selling them as good luck charms to both handlers and people. A rumor spreads that having amber on your person can prevent dragons attacking you, which leads to a small boom in the export of the material.
-The Livonian state soon scrapes up enough financial resources to found two standing armies, one based in Riga and the other in Reval. Armed with guns and pikes in addition to swords and crossbows, they also have a cavalry component largely consisting of nobles that pay for their own gear and steed. There is also a use of light infantry in the form of crossbowmen, or cavalry armed with pistols that skirmish at the front before retiring behind the pike and shot formations. The Livonian state has made it a stated goal to acquire as many firearms as possible, eventually bringing the ratio of guns and pikes to a 1:1 ratio. Despite this, the Sejm frequently blocks the imposition of new taxes, while the cost of feeding two dragons drains the finances of the state more. The dissolution of the Catholic churches and monasteries does help provide some monies and estates to make up the shortfall, but this is all but gone by the end of the 1540s. Many soldiers are also forced to take up supplementary jobs in the towns while their officers have bought commissions, impacting on the time overall quality of the army too. The cost of all this ends up with the king incurring severe debts (although luckily the reduction of interest rates and a gradual rise in inflation helps keep Livonia struggling for longer).
-There are several more ambitious attempts made as well, with the repair and improvement of coastal forts and castles on the border with Muscovy (many are still using cannon from the 14th and 15th centuries) and some attempts having been made to secure more artillery pieces with what limited funds the kingdom has. A naval expedition sails to the New World as well, (largely funded by private backers) and sets itself up on one of the north-eastern peninsulas, close by to English and Danish possessions. Most of the passengers die on the way there or soon after landing, and only religious madmen and criminals make up the population of this land. Four centuries later, this would still be the case.
Turn 3: 1550 to 1580Post link: http://facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1427292&p=46185921&viewfull=1#post46185921
Turn quote: There is plenty of time to win this game, and to thrash the Spaniards too. – Francis Drake
Events of the years 1550 to 1580:
-The council of Trent is held, which oversees the reform and reorganization of the Catholic Church and its practices to make them more palatable to lay Catholics and improve administration. Most of these see an increased focus on the education and quality of clergymen, the abolishment of selling indulgences, and other varied reforms. Most of them allow civil authorities greater discretion with regards to religious questions, although they are still expected to broadly follow Catholic orthodoxy. In 1555, the Emperor Charles produced a legal document which acknowledged both Protestants and Catholics and that a sovereign can choose which to follow, going to a considerable length to calm down tensions in the Empire. Satisfied with this partial success at halting a descent into civil war, he then dies and is immediately replaced by his son Phillip. His policies eventually lead to the collapse of his authority in the Netherlands and the start of a bloody war for independence by the Dutch, angered by his attempts to impose the Catholic faith on his subjects.
-It is discovered in Austria that humans can ride upon dragons easily without fault or complain to either party after one began offering rides to children in Tyrol. The local blacksmith had built a crude harness for the children to be tied onto, which allowed them to ride the dragon without falling off. The implications of this are immense, leading to the first attempts to have riders on them (starting in Austria, and then spreading outwards). These harnesses and attempts to fly are crude at best, with many accidentally falling off and some harnesses hurting the dragons or breaking apart. In addition, it is difficult to move around on them, for one must be tied to the beast at all times to prevent falling off.
-Stagecoaches and glass windows become popular in Europe, in spite of the poor condition of roads and high cost of glassmaking. Chimneys are also increasingly common, while secular plays are becoming popular entertainment as well (particularly in the north and west of Europe). Roofs are increasingly becoming made from tiles as opposed to thatch too. Inequality is rising in general, with peasants slowly becoming impoverished or moving to the towns and joining militaries. Inflationary pressures plus land shortages contribute most to the impoverishment of small farmers, while forcing others to make their land turn not just subsistence, but a profit.
-The Iberian Peninsula has had a long history of rearing sheep for their wool, and recently there have been attempts by a clever inventor to try mechanizing the process. By studying peoples hand movements and replicating the movement of needles in a frame, he creates a machine that can produce a course woolen cloth that does the work of many. He establishes a workshop in Seville, but is hampered by the existing knitting guilds and low demand. He later turns to a different invention by refining firearm mechanisms and inventing the snaphance, a type of lock which strikes a steel plate and creates sparks. It is much more reliable and cheaper than a wheellock, leading to its steady adoption throughout the 1570s.
-In 1557, the King of Portugal, Joao III dies childless. In this period of uncertainty, his widow seizes the opportunity by mobilizing the Spanish army and marching on Lisbon in an effective coup d’etat. The protesting nobility raise an army in rebellion, which is crushed within a year before Portugal and its overseas possessions are effectively annexed, in addition to being given the sole royal dragon in Portugal. Administratively and legally however, it is still distinct as a separate kingdom, much like the other kingdoms of Spain. This makes additional legal reforms difficult, especially as the old system breaks down through a combination of economics and politics. Population growth gradually stagnates, as many people find better opportunities in the towns and colonies and birth rates decline. Inflation pushes up prices while wages go into decline, leading to increasing impoverishment and a reduction in tax revenues. Eventually, the Spanish state is forced to borrow monies to maintain the army and navy, especially in rebellious Portugal.
-Overseas, there are better opportunities. Roads are constructed throughout the colonies by viceroys (in return for tax incentives to encourage them to do so), while Jesuits establish and expand much of the public education systems and seminaries. The population of the natives plummets however, while the number of colonists steadily grows. Living standards are generally better here than in Spain, making it a powerful enticement for colonists, who settle throughout much of the Spanish Empire. New areas settled are predominantly in Brazil, mostly under Portuguese supervision. Portions of Florida and the territories to the south of the former Incan Empire are also colonized, although very thinly so. Several attempts in North America are often scuppered due to poor supplies, disease, and native hostility, in addition to the rise of pirates plus the activities of the English and Danish (who seize Jamaica and force the governor out). The slave trade begins to expand immensely as well, mainly to fuel these new colonies desire for cheap labor.
-Spain continues to focus ever more heavily in Mozambique and Guinea, mainly in order to advance the collective interests of Portugal and Spain. The local monarchies are very keen on the import of firearms, which the Spanish are happy to supply in return for slaves. Annoyingly to the Portuguese however, the Spanish sell off Ceylon to Venice, prompting many nobles to become increasingly hostile and attempt to move their assets out of the country. England is a destination for these monies given the two nations long friendship. Additionally in diplomacy, the Spanish begrudgingly sign a series of treaties with the Aztecs that recognize them as a sovereign state, while contact is made with Cathy and Cipango for the first time. The latter (in the midst of a bloody civil war) is asked to sell the Spanish dragon eggs in return for silver, but the shogunate and daimyo refuse, aided by Chinese insistence. During this time however, the first firearms arrive in the country through Spanish and Portuguese merchants.
-Spain has bigger problems besides the Japanese refusing to sell them eggs. In South America, the discovery of major silver ore deposits and their subsequent extraction has led to it becoming a major source of revenue. Unfortunately this has helped accelerate existing inflation in Europe, in turn causing the costs of products to rise and by extension the costs of running the state. The cost of the army bloats considerably while administrators are left with the choice of deciding between reduced taxes or rioting. This all comes to a head in 1566 when a Spanish army invades the Ottomans via Morea once more. This time however, they are entirely unsupported by the Persians, Venetians, Egyptians, or Austrians (preoccupied with internal issues). The Ottomans are much better prepared, and not only push out the Spanish and destroy much of their fleet, but manage to seize Morea and oust the Venetians in turn. Reinforcements are delayed by the French entry into the conflict, invading Aragon and encouraging the nobility to rise in rebellion. They eventually lose and agree to a white peace in 1568, while the ringleaders of the revolt are forced into exile or executed.
-Shipping in the colonies also begins to be attacked by fast and nimble ships that answer to no nation, known as pirates. They form an extensive number of coves and secret bases from which to assault shipping, all the while reducing revenues. They attack Venetian shipping as well, leading to English and Danish trading vessels starting to take up an increasing share of trade, especially once various pirates seize the Bahamas (largely uninhabited) and the English and Danish begin basing themselves there. The Dutch shortly become involved afterwards. The good news however is that the economies overseas are now diversifying, and a new route to China was discovered through the Philippines (the Chinese being keen to export porcelain, silks, and other luxuries in return for Spanish silver). In addition, tobacco, tomatoes, maize, cotton, and other new crops have been brought to Europe, some of which have quickly become popular.
-Investing even more into dragons, and despite the first deaths of them, there are now seven in England. The crown has invested considerably into their breeding, and the new generation not only seems better able to follow orders and bond with humans more easily, but it seems as though specific traits may be selected for in them by breeders. As to what traits they desire, that is up to their superiors. The royal arsenal, not to be outdone by the efforts of the dragon breeders, has focused extensively into refining and making new artillery pieces and carriages, culminating in the joint developments of limbers, trunnions, cassions, and casting. While the basic design remains unchanged, the focus on lighter “field guns” means they tend to be easier to move around and deploy in addition to being easier to aim and reload.
-In an historic act, the English pawn off Calais to the French, who in recent years have been eyeing the last piece of English territory on the mainland. Seeing that holding onto it was no longer feasible, this also stops the city returning two MPs to parliament and requiring English defenses. Freed from responsibilities on the continent, the English are increasingly looking towards consolidation of the isles and overseas expansion. This culminates in Francis Drake becoming the first man to circumnavigate the world in 1577 to 1580, and not dying along the way.
-England is becoming ever more interested in the new world, although the Spanish and Venetians have already gotten all of the good bits. They friend with the Danish and descend on the Livonian colony, capturing it and turning it over to the Danish crown, forcing the governor there to give up. Next, the combined Danish and English navies arrive at the tenuously held Jamaica and seize it from Spanish control after bombarding the coastal fort and then making an amphibious landing during the night. After capture, they raise the English flag and claim the island for England. Perfidious Albion then follows up by raiding the Venetian colony set up by Ezio Giovanni and burning it down. A rival colony is then established by the English on the same spot, followed up by several more colonies being established in Virginia and New England. Unfortunately for the English, the Virginia colony is forced to be abandoned due to all of the inhabitants mysteriously vanishing, while supplying the other two has gotten difficult enough to the point that the colonists are forced to eat tree bark and grass.
-Closer to home, the costly dragon breeding program pays off when another war in Ireland flares up, when the Catholic natives rebel against encroaching Protestant oppressions by throwing several people off a bridge. The English respond by calling upon several dragons and the army to Ireland where they not only crush the rebellion, but then conquer the Irish of the southwest and reaffirm that the lords of the rest of Ireland recognize English superiority. Administration is still ad hoc and politically the lordship of Ireland is run much the same way it has been for centuries, in a semi-feudal structure. A part of Ulster ends up appealing for protection to the Scottish, who arrive and build several forts on the condition they help to keep out the English. Rebellions still frequently flare up, and the use of the English tongue is uncommon at best.
-During all of this, England at home has been suffering a fair deal. High inflation, driven by an influx of silver, an escalation of government expenditures and the velocity of monies, combines with stagnant wages to reduce standards of living and damage the common people. Unemployment rises to incredibly high levels, with beggars and charlatans crowding the cities. The dissolution of the monasteries has caused a collapse in social welfare provisioning, with many poor and sick unable to find shelter, food, or medical attention. Highwaymen frequently begin to hold up stagecoaches in the countryside (which are becoming popular in spite of the awful condition of roads). Education has declined in quality, but at least you can watch a good play to take your mind off of that now.
-Taking cues from English and Dutch developments in shipbuilding, the Danish mange to design and construct several variants of the English race built galleon, albeit with new additions. The forecastle has been reduced, with an increased focus on putting more guns into the vessel so as to bring a larger broadside. While leaving it vulnerable in close quarters, these ships can deal a lot of damage before this happens. Dragon breeding has also seen some tangible improvements as new textbooks and trained breeders become an increasingly common sight. They have identified how to change particular traits, although which ones and to what degree they have yet to decide. A trade off in some traits is most likely the result.
-Upon hearing that the Livonians had established a small and inoffensive fort in the New World, the Danish allied with the English to advance their own interests. Starting by assaulting the fort and taking it over for the Danish crown, they then enacted a blockade on Livonian shipping until they give up claims to all territories in the New World. This was followed up by joining the English for an assault on the Spanish fort in Jamaica, which fell after bombardment and a land based invasion. In addition, the Bahamas were wrested from Spanish control and largely became a base of operations for pirates and privateers, in addition to separate ports used by the English and Danes as bases to raid shipping from. The monies raised are especially appreciated by the crown.
-Antigua is renamed Kristenjord after King Christian III, while the rest of the Antilles are claimed and later settled (with a number of forts constructed on them to deter the Spanish and Venetians). They left the other half of the islands to the Venetians, who colonized them. After they attempted to colonize one island regarded as under Danish control, a privateer was hired to ransack the settlement and force the inhabitants to leave, with the slaves being kept for the Danish colony. This privateer is later appointed the first colonial governor of the Caribbean possessions of Denmark, while a separate post is established for the colonies close to Greenland. These viceroys are also responsible for locating dragon eggs in the Americas, but as of yet they have been unsuccessful.
-Closer to home, the Danish crown secures a marriage between the heir to the Danish crown and the daughter of the Swedish monarch. While not a union, it is a step towards normalizing relations that have been poor ever since the Kalmar Union dissolved. An envoy had also been appointed to travel into the Holy Roman Empire to confirm to the Emperor that the rights of Catholics would be respected in Schleswig, and in addition the Danish crown would stop crowds attacking churches and monasteries. The effects of this is a stronger retention of Catholicism despite the state religion being Protestant, and despite tense relations between the two faiths the peace holds for now. The nobility and burghers of Denmark are annoyed with these conciliatory gestures, but it pays off when the Danish secure enough monies and permission to buy a dragon egg from Austria.
-After hearing news of the man riding a dragon in Austria, the Neapolitans have begun frantic work on the creation of harnesses for the beasts. These first models are generally made of leather and metal chains, are strapped to the dragon, and provide a stable platform for a rider to go on. These do go through considerable experimentation, as some handlers fall off and die or are badly injured over the next 30 years, while some harnesses break apart mid-flight. Breeding techniques have also improved to the point that individual traits may be selected for it appears, and unlike other countries, the King of Naples demands larger dragons, to which the breeders oblige and begin to focus on increasing their size. By 1580, some dragons are topping 40 tons.
-Naples mobilizes in response to raids on shipping by pirates along the coast of Tunis, bringing their sizable navy and military. However, they do not bring their dragons on this campaign and instead opt to bring bags of pepper. Although the navy and army are somewhat outdated, they are more than a match for the politically isolated Hafsids, who progressively lost control of their own domains over the past two centuries. When the Neapolitans finally bombard and seize Tunis, the dynasty effectively gives in, allowing administration to collapse and fleeing the country for Morocco. A heroic defense was made by the two royal dragons in the city, but after being pelted with bags of pepper and being shot at they were driven insane and were quickly killed. Several other coastal settlements and fortifications are captured within a year of the fall of Tunis, although control over the interior has been effectively lost to Bedouins and other brigands. The Jesuits begin to push aggressively into the country after conquest as well, leading to major rioting and even weaker control over the new acquisition.
-The Neapolitans continue to also refine dragon breeding and training standards, starting with improved hatching facilities to ensure the egg does not die. In addition, wild and feral dragons have been caught with the aid of the civilized ones, with the wild ones being used in “stud” farms. The number of eggs that are possible to produce could be many, but the cost of maintaining them and expanding facilities slows down the growth in the numbers of royal dragons. Some countries do seem willing to buy eggs however, and the monies raised could be directed towards colonial expansion. An attempt was made to colonize the cape of Africa, but disease and hunger caused the demise of the first colony. The second one established in 1574 survives, but only just, and is a considerable drain on the Neapolitan monarchy to supply.
Ruskie – Kingdom of Mutapa
State Religion: Mbira Dza umgqomo
-Mutapa continues to advance, mainly from adopting technologies that the Portuguese have been using in close proximity to them, a process which continues even as the Portuguese come under increasing Spanish control. Double entry bookkeeping is adopted to record the personal finances of the monarchy, while large-scale irrigation and drainage projects are also built and developed for royal estates. Both take a while to disseminate, and even then generally only among the nobility (who are the only ones willing to have their children educated in the Portuguese tongue and know how to read and write). The Jesuits seem keen to provide these technologies and education, although they demand conversion to Catholicism, enough to the point that quite a few people in Mutapa are now following the religion.
-The royal household continues to steadily accrue power as a series of new laws gives them increasingly despotic control over the country and the lands within. When people die, the land is taken back into possession of the state, which in turn ends up prompting more than one rebellion. Armed with Portuguese harquebuses however, the King manages to crush opposition and steadily extends his influence and domain. His new army, although largely untrained and ad hoc, uses firearms effectively in a supporting skirmishing role. By 1580, the Kingdom has added several additional new territories and has cracked down heavily on the activities of bandits and other brigands. Native Mutapan merchants have started appearing as now many permanent villages are either established or quickly grow into towns, with agricultural products now being moved and traded on a large scale.
-The Egyptians have suffered from the decline of scientific endeavors in the past few centuries in the Arabic world, all the more so due to inbreeding, but recently there have been significant major investments into the glassmakers by the state. After one myopic ruler found a pair of European glasses very useful, he ordered the construction of several lens grinders to provide enough of these eyeglasses for the country. One of these was clever enough to notice that a certain arrangement of these glasses in a frame could magnify objects beneath it, leading him to develop a simple version of a compound microscope. He initially uses it to look at insects, hair, and seeds, while hiring an artist to help him sketch pictures of these magnified objects.
-At some expense, the arsenals of the Mamluks continue to manufacture large numbers of muskets and harquebuses, although the lines between these two guns begin to slowly blur as the century drags on. Soldiers are drilled and trained to not only fire and reload these guns, but to clean and maintain them as well, in addition to the bizarre attempt at training them to shoot targets. This is quickly replaced by commands for the guns to “level”, meaning they all are held at the same elevation rather than aiming (which is nearly impossible in battle). Guns by this stage are used by half of the soldiers in any one army, putting further stresses on powder makers and gunsmiths to increase production.
-To keep soldiers away from civilian populations (due to their habits of finding whores and sneaking out for other pleasures), a number of barracks are set up in Cairo, Aswan, Alexandria, Damascus, Jerusalem, Aleppo, and Homs. Soldiers are seemingly expected to be self-sufficient too, so while many work on repairing, cobbling, growing vegetables, and other minor tasks to supplement their pay, it takes a fair part out of their normal military training and reduces their quality. Officers do better, getting involved in some of the sciences and businesses whenever possible, in spite of Islamic restrictions on usury and some other financial activities. Some monies have also been set aside to train some officers and dragon handlers in anatomy and mathematics, where they then study the beasts in great deal and record down this information. They have also been entrusted with teaching these dragons the Arabic tongue and mathematics, both of which the creatures seem to understand well, to the point that they begin to hold regular conversions with their handlers and debate philosophy too.
-In a major affront to the Mamluks, the sultan begins to increasingly style himself as a monarch of Egypt rather than the Mamluks, establishing a street in the capital for the establishment of embassies in the Italian style for other nations to send ambassadors to, while most controversially taking power from the local aristocracy and introducing a form of voting. Given that outgroup trust is quite low, this makes it difficult for many villages and towns to elect suitable representatives, and most of them tend to be Mamluks themselves or in the pockets of one. Even worse, when they even do the job of representing their constituents, most demands tend to be those involving land reform or decreasing taxes. The towns fare better, setting up somewhat more efficient administrations and making some kind of an effort to solve some of their problems.
-An army is sent south down the Nile to establish more colonies and to subdue some of the unruly peoples living there. Unfortunately, by this point the tropical diseases and lack of infrastructure here makes it increasingly difficult to maintain year round garrisons and establish long term settlement. After a fort is established to the far south, half of the soldiers there die from malaria within a year, while the nearby areas of land allotted to desperate migrants are frequently abandoned or go untended. Despite this, the tribes nearby are eventually forced to submit to the authority of the Sultan. On the seas meanwhile, a colony is established with much more success on Socotra, although the poor quality of the soil and lack of a natural harbour makes occupation difficult. What’s worse is that the island is nominally under control of Yemen, prompting several angry responses from that country.
-The Aztecs have been increasingly interested in European technologies and ideas, especially as the French seem just as keen to educate the Mexicans as the Mexicans are willing to listen. The Jesuits and French merchants lead the way, by introducing a great deal of livestock and other domestic animals in addition to showing how they ought to be bred and cared for. In addition, the Jesuits also show the Aztecs how to farm in new ways. The introduction of hardy wheat plants are especially helpful in the more arid areas, opening up a lot of new marginal lands to the Aztecs. As the population slowly recovers (aided by French immigration to a degree), they also bring eyeglasses with them and establish several glassworks in the capital Tenochtitlan so as to produce lenses for those impaired of sight.
-The shattered Aztec military begins to reorganize and reform itself during this time, as the smallpox epidemics which once ravaged the country have begun to decline as healthcare improves (death rates drop to 10% during an outbreak). This begins with the Aztec mining gold with the aid of indentured peoples to buy outdated French merchant ships and artillery pieces, which by 1580 end up constituting the first iteration of the Mexican navy. Logistics have also improved immensely, as the invention of the wheeled cart and use of horses to draw goods attests. The major roadways have also been repaired (most ones fell into disuse over the past few decades) and are used once more to ferry the small numbers of soldiers and carts laden with goods from town to town.
-Human sacrifice is finally banned due to the aid of heavy Jesuit influence, which now has the secondary problem of dragon attacks, which plague many towns and cities as the starving creatures are driven to find food wherever possible. The impoverished Aztec offer little in the way of livestock or humans for eating, and eventually the French deploy three European dragons that drive off the native ones. Much of the population starves to death or dies violently, and two are eventually captured and are held by the Mexicans who are given food in return for chasing off other dragons.
-The Jesuits continue to make significant inroads into the country, and tolerance of their activities leads to them building a great number of churches and monasteries throughout Mexico to convert the native populace and educate them in French and Latin. This culminates in the construction of a university in Tenochtitlan, which offers high quality education in the seven liberal arts and ensures those ruling Mexico have a well-rounded education. The Emperors begin to speak French and Latin as secondary languages, while many others begin to take on Christian names and customs.
-The last of the great emperors is a considerable reformer, who not only sets himself to reorganizing administration and appointing Jesuits to make records, but to also establish a mint for the purpose of making coinage for the Empire. Attempts are also made to emulate the French “Estates-General” through the establishment of such a system in Mexico, acting as a consultative and advisory body to the monarchy. It eventually begins to slowly assume more control of the growing state and civil service, allying itself with the Jesuits and French and undermining native traditions and customs, so that by the time it begins to enact sanitation laws applying to cities, the next emperor (who is generally weak willed) is unwilling to argue against them being written solely in French and Latin.
-The Venetians have become infatuated with handguns in the past century, owing to their cheapness, ease of use, deadliness, and suitability in many battles. However, the matchlock mechanism is a major drawback, it frequently becoming useless in rain and being cumbersome to use. The solution is the use of a flint and steel to generate the sparks, in addition to a covering on the pan which only opens during firing to keep the powder dry. Basic safety mechanisms such as the lateral sear prevent accidental discharge as well, leading to the lock mechanism being widely adopted by the 1580s. Another development around this time in warfare is the move towards construction of galleons, as the shortcomings of galleys begin to be felt by this time. Copying designs from the Atlantic European countries, the Venetians design and build several of their own galleons, including some variants with a reduced forecastle to give extra room for guns and more agility.
-As the Venetian military continues to reform itself and professionalize, a number of harsh punishments are introduced to instil discipline among the rowdy conscripts. Bullying other soldiers and civilians and disobedience is usually punished with hanging or having one of the fingers cut off. While a step forwards in organization, it doesn’t help much with desertion rates, leading to a second reform in which pay is increased while permanent barracks lodging and food rations are included. As a result, the overall quality and morale of the army improves (although at some considerable expense). The numbers of soldiers employed are also slashed, with conscription being quietly dropped in some parts and many barracks merged. Instead, local militias are empowered to provide for local defence (most of them being poorly armed and organized).
-The dragon portion of the military is also seeing similar reforms, as many handlers are sacked for their poor conduct. Breeding and egg collecting continues, while comfortable lodging is provided for handlers. Experience is also well regarded, with former dragon handlers being employed by the Venetian state over native ones of poor quality (these tend to be from France and Naples). Improving anatomical knowledge of these creatures in addition to news of their use by the Austrians also benefits the Venetian army, which is gradually organizing and professionalizing itself. The Persians, having allied with the Venetians before in the past, are keen to hire and use some officers to help reform their own army too, mainly in the use of new firearms.
-Despite improvements in the army, the homelands continue to suffer as trade and financial investment moves increasingly towards the colonies. Low wages, high inflation, and lack of opportunity make emigration to the colonies an attractive option, leading to the rest of the Antilles being settled (save for several islands already in Danish possession). Despite the loss of one colony to a Danish warship, the others are suitable for the establishment of Haziendai. Based on the Spanish model of settlement, these are land estates which constitute plantations, manufacturing facilities, mines, and ranching (or all of them). Owned by patricians who appoint freemen to run them, they import African slaves and indentured servants to do the bulk of labour.
-Ezio Giovanni is a famous explorer, who charts much of the east coast of North America at this time, and is later entrusted by several backers to establish a colony on an island at the mouth of a river. Unfortunately, the English and Danes later discover the settlement and attack it, forcing the inhabitants to leave and seizing the place for themselves. Ezio Giovanni, undeterred, responds by sailing to Africa and recoups his fortune by getting into the slave trade. The castle at the main slaving port is expanded as the families of slavers move (or are born) there, while some hunters and prospectors try to explore for anything decent to shoot or mine. Most of them die from disease, but the slavers mixed families seem to be doing well.
-With the Spanish granting the Ceylon colony to Venice, a new administrator is appointed to manage it and push Venetian interests in India and the Far East. He begins to encourage Venetians to migrate to the place, although most of them tend to be soldiers, traders, missionaries, and plantation owners who wish to run the place rather than settle it. A merchant guild is also established here, as has happened elsewhere in Venice’s colonial possessions. Some of the Jesuits who have moved here are keen on not only spreading the word of god, but the use of the scythe too, an invention which is superior to the sickle for harvesting, and one that is increasingly adopted as many colonial administrators and nobles are encouraged to manufacture and distribute them widely.
-A guild is rumoured to have been formed in Venice, based upon the Assassins of the old Levant during the crusading era. They seem to be supported by the Venetian government, and constitute an informal intelligence and espionage body of the state. It is managed by the wealthy Auditore family, which has steadily risen and developed its wealth from plantations, slaving, and lending to the Venetian state. Several are appointed to run Ceylon, while another presides over the new mint. In recent years the influx of Spanish silver has led to high inflation and a decrease in the value of currency, so the mint has responded by increasing the silver content in the hopes of countering this. Taxes are paid in the old monies, which are later melted down into the new ones. It contributes to assist in the payment of loans and credit ratings, which in turn helps lower interest rates and make debt for the Republic easier to manage.
-The Chinese have long bred dragons, but the methods of breeding are generally based on tradition and with little understanding of the whole process in general (of dragons fucking). Aided by the arrival of Jesuits with their books of breeding and some existing knowledge, they are given rare permission to visit and see dragons first-hand, allowing them to impart their knowledge and eventually find out ways to select for specific traits (as to which traits, this has yet been decided), although conservatism among breeders slows this down. In addition, several arsenals and foundries have been set up to improve and manufacture cannon, the designs of which are several centuries behind that of the Europeans. They make good on this by introducing new casting methods, allowing them to cast solid bronze artillery pieces and start to copy European designs. Unfortunately, the lack of expertise in these new cannon limits progress.
-The Ming begin to work on increasing the numbers of dragons they have, eventually having over twenty born in this thirty year period. Their prohibitive cost is justified when the finest Chinese Imperials (a traditional breed) are given a separate unit intended for guarding the emperor and forming his royal guard. These dragons are all born through the new methods, and receive a very different upbringing. All are indoctrinated into the cult of the emperor, putting him atop as supreme head of the state and heaven (indeed, he is venerated also as the head of the world’s foremost civilization). The other major traditional breed (Celestials) are meanwhile given top educations and are trained in matters of state, with them being appointed to administrate the bureaucracy as humans have been found to be less loyal. The civil service realises this threat and attempts to raise rebellion and assassinate the emperor to little effect, they are soon crushed and increasingly replaced with dragons and armies of low level clerks and servants.
-Cordial relations are established with Portuguese merchants, Jesuit missionaries, and several other European travellers that happen upon China. They are granted free use of the major ports for trade, but are heavily obliged to follow Chinese laws and customs. When disputes flare up, it tends to be biased in favour of Chinese traders, which while restricting European influence, often turns them to smuggling or using intermediaries. Jesuits have also established some secret missions in the ports to attempt conversion of the local populace, but their efforts are often thwarted by local authorities. The Jesuits do however offer their support to the Emperor in reforming the obsolete calendar and astronomy.
-A problem is discovered with the water pump for a fountain in Riga. It fails to operate on some days, and a goldsmith decides to build a model to figure out why the fountain in front of his house won’t work. He upturns a sealed glass tube in a bowl of mercury to observe what will happen, finding that the mercury falls slightly and leaves a small vacuum. In addition, the heat of his hand causes the mercury to rise, giving him a device which responds to temperature. Additionally on some days it rises or falls by itself even when the temperature is unchanged, for which he has no explanation. After submitting his discoveries, he receives a small cash grant, with which he builds his own knitting machine after hearing of the invention of one in Spain. Unfortunately for him, it is not widely adopted due to its expense and the coarseness of the cloth, and by the time he dies only a handful of the machines exist and are employed commercially.
-With the tsars to the east becoming increasingly more powerful and bent on expansion, even more of Courlands limited finances are spent on updating and expanding fortifications along the border with them. They are also forced to downsize the military as well, focusing largely on quality and improving soldiers individually. This tends to lead to a focus on skirmishing tactics and the holding of fortifications along with relying on militias whenever possible. Those in the forts tend to be armed with rifles too. These reforms also affect dragons, as now the breeding pair in possession is only allowed to give birth to two dragons so as to control the cost of feeding and maintaining them. It is found that altering the temperature will affect the sex of the hatchling and the time taken for it to hatch too.
-With the Sejm being both incompetent and heavily factionalized, the monarchy decides to simply neuter it by reducing its status to that of a consultative body. While they protest heavily, the royal dragons and the ever present Russian threat forces them to concede more changes. Taxes are raised throughout the entire country on effectively all classes, prompting a rebellion that is soon crushed when the castle of the ringleader is set on fire by the royal dragons and shelled by artillery. A professional civil service is established and expanded to find sources of revenue wherever possible, and to assist in relaying the orders of the monarchy. The monarchy later forms an alliance with Sweden as Russian aggression grows, promising the Swedish access to the Livonian dragons whenever war breaks out.
-Unfortunately, in 1564, Russia declares war on Livonia and invades, seeking to gain control of the Baltic. They are slowed down by the extensive fortifications in Livonia, plus the use of dragons to terrify some of the Russian forces. After the Russians capture several forts, the Swedish are able to bring their men and their own dragons to bear, eventually recapturing the forts after several bloody battles. Unfortunately for the Livonians, one of their dragons dies during the war after being shot at by Cossacks. Russia tries once more to invade in 1578 after securing the Volga river, but is defeated once more when the Polish enter the war to seize several territories on the borders, the defeated Russian state then sues for peace and cedes some lands to Poland, before focusing its attention entirely east once more.
-To gain the support of the rural peasantry and other commoners (who tend to speak Finnic and Baltic languages), several versions of the common prayer book are translated and given to churches to encourage the common people to support the monarchy. In addition, these books end up standardizing the Estonian and Latvian languages for the first time, and a tradition of vernacular literature begins to develop. Priests are educated in the towns and sent back to the villages with not only the ability to read, but to understand theology as well. Several more expeditions are also planned to Jaunais Kurzemes (New Courland) financed by German merchants, but unfortunately during the wars with Russia the Danish and English took the opportunity to attack and seize the colony, ending the enterprise. Instead, the monies are spent on the managing of forestry and fishing ports, with the monarchy hoping to make monies from these industries. Several marshlands are also drained too, with the land set aside for new forests or agriculture.
-Improving relations with the Venetians and the rise of the Mughals have led to several hasty developments in military technology and theory in the country, starting with the import of muskets. A rather interesting change to them however is in their barrels, which are shortened and are given a large flared end. The purpose is to allow the fitting of a grenade into it, turning the musket into a small hand mortar. While extending the effective range of grenadiers, it is also dangerous for the user. The Venetians also end up introducing the printing press to Persia, where with some modification it is able to print Arabic characters fairly reliably. The first print houses are set up in the country, and begin to disseminate literature and pamphlets for an increasingly literate audience.
-The Venetians are very keen to help the Persians, as they buy many Venetian firearms, artillery, and hire their military advisors and officers as well. To incorporate these new weapons, a complete overhaul of the military is made, starting with the formation of a professional modern standing army along Egyptian and Ottoman lines. The new soldiers are drilled to move quickly (although given that they march on foot and carry heavy guns this is less effective than it sounds) and know how to ambush effectively. These new soldiers are given good rations to prevent them from pillaging the countryside, but moving whole trains of supplies slows down armies considerably. Again, soldiers still need lodging and fresh food as well, so frequent stops are a necessity.
-This new army is deeply unpopular with the Qizilbash however, who oppose their decreased influence. When open rebellion breaks out, each group is besieged in their holdouts and later crushed by the new army. With its better discipline and steady backing and professional outlook on warfare, it assists in the build-up of the Shahs powerbase, in spite of many of his administrators being murdered by Qizilbash. Several more reforms in the army ban rape, looting, murder, and encourage basic hygiene, although the degree to which these are followed tends to vary. For his attempts, the Shah is nicknamed “the moral” as he tries to ensure his people follow moral lives.
-His attempts at reform continue with the establishment of a code of rights, which promises to the peasantry that armies are not permitted to seize supplies from the peasantry (but must be paid), and that in addition, there is fair treatment under the law. A series of new courts are established and judges appointed to uphold the new laws. In turn, this leads to a gradual shift in Persian society, as rule by law slowly begins to transition rule of law. The dynasty has also made public their views to heal the Sunni-Shia split by inviting several Sunni scholars to debate with them. Although unpopular among many Persians, the rulers of the Sunni countries take the hint. The Ottomans later sign an alliance with the Persians, although they refuse a royal marriage. Venetians are also given increased permission to trade and travel within the country, although this is merely slowing what the Spanish and Portuguese have already started. Trade has increasingly begun to move towards moving around the Cape of Africa and trade tariffs return relatively less and less. The focus of trade has also gradually moved inland as it is once place the Spanish merchants cannot reach.
-The Germans have been one of the first to manufacture and adopt firearms on a wide scale, and now there is a new development rapidly gaining prominence. Due to pike and shot formations limiting firepower, there has been a move to reduce the number of pikes, although this leaves the formation vulnerable to cavalry and infantry. To account for this, a type of special dagger fitted into the muzzle makes a makeshift spear that serves well enough in combat. The downside however is that the heavier guns are abandoned and the size of shot shrinks by about a third from 26 mm to about 17mm to make it easier to use. In addition, the stocks have been largely downsized (they doubled as clubs) to allow for this. It is one of two prominent developments, the other being the import of four-field crop rotation from the Netherlands.
-The army undergoes several reforms after the adoption of the bayonet. The prince-elector attempts to expand the size of his army. Unfortunately, given the small size of his possessions, he is only able to raise around 4000 men, but he nonetheless opts to focus on drilling them extensively. They are trained to use their plug bayonets like short pikes, and many companies of pikemen are disbanded at this time in the hopes that the new tactic will be more promising. These require trained officers and a reduction in the size of units, with a greater reliance on individual soldiers’ initiative in battle. Finally, he organizes his soldiers to fire in mutually supportive volleys at close range for maximum damage to the enemy formation, before fixing bayonets and preparing to receive the other side.
-Seeking to improve relations, the Prince-Elector signs an alliance with Prussia, which later strengthens when the ruling houses of both intermarry and develop stronger relations and additional ties, although the Polish are unhappy at this intrusion. Further marriages are made with Cleves, Mark, Ravensburg, and Pommerania, of which Cleves is eventually inherited. After Prince-Elector John George becomes ruler of Cleves, he enacts a law for the repair and improvement of roads throughout his lands, building a number of royal highways between the major towns and smaller dirt roads for outlying areas. Although costly, they win him some support from traders and peddlers in addition to the peasantry. Maintaining them is another problem as well, and the quality of these roads widely varies. Later on, he also works towards dissolving some of the old guilds and monopolies in the towns and cities, so as to make it easier for unorganized artisans to enter business.
-The Cherokee have lived in much the same way as they have for centuries, but recently the arrival of the Spanish and other European explorers has begun to change all of that. Starting with a massive epidemic of various diseases, the Cherokee lose as much as half their population during this time, leading to widespread societal disintegration and decline. Afterwards, they begin to trade with some of the Spanish arriving nearby, buying iron tools and weaponry in addition to being shown how to shape and manufacture them from ingots. While mining is essentially non-existent, the Cherokee have figured out how to work whatever iron they can obtain. In addition, one Spanish man shows them how to make simple ploughs and other digging tools from wood, allowing them to work the soil more easily and open up several more areas for agriculture.
-Cherokee society at this time is still heavily traditional, based around hit and run raids on isolated small groups of enemies with field battles being rare. Males are trained in fighting from a very young age, with effectively entire villages often being called upon for war. In the chaos created by the outbreak of disease, the Cherokee attack many of their weaker tribes when many are bedridden and forcibly enslave and rape many of the women. Children are taken as slaves, while men who surrender are spared and incorporated into the village. The new major chief is particularly powerful at doing this, his intention being to destroy all rival tribes by assimilating them into the wider Cherokee. Unfortunately for him, his rule is much decentralized and with communications going no faster than one can run, this looks unlikely to change in the immediate future.
-The Cherokee expand their influence eastwards towards the coast, presumably to monopolize trade with the Spanish in the area. After establishing a village on the coast and setting up new farms, they then begin to search for dragon remains and eggs, although they are ultimately unsuccessful with both endeavours. The one egg they find and get hatched is difficult to feed, and ultimately hunger drives it to leave. Nonetheless, their religion still venerates these powerful and fearsome animals. Lacrosse is also widely popular at this time, with games usually held “for the pleasure of the dragons”, who often watch these games. Young men also gain valuable experience in fighting and warfare in these often rough competitions, which also help to keep many villages in the Cherokee tied together through them being held at regular intervals.
Turn 4: 1580 to 1610Post link: http://facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1427292&p=46233857&viewfull=1#post46233857
Turn quote: If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties. – Francis Bacon
Events of the years 1580 to 1610:
-As the 16th century draws to a close, many momentous changes have taken place. Chief among them are the widespread adoption and integration of dragons into all aspects of life as their capabilities are realized and exploited. While the advent of firearms means one can quickly arm and train a massive army, while other existing technologies permit their deployment in the field, supplying them is a nightmare at best. The escalation of warfare sees the warbands of the late middle ages swell into hordes that pillage the land to feed themselves. The decline of castles and the great lords has seen a rapid shift of economic and political importance towards the growing cities, especially of Western Europe. Here, a social revolution begins to take place as the old medieval guilds and associations break down under the strain of inflation and end of feudalism. The first glimpses of a new order are already taking shape, as some merchants have begun the practice of buying up and owning the factors of production.
-Unemployment peaks at staggering levels, made worse by inflation of prices, low wages, the centralizing tendencies of many governments, and the end of many traditional means of social support and welfare. It is common to find people starving to death in the streets. Many flee to the cities or to overseas colonies and territories in the hopes of finding a better life. In these colonies are grown massive numbers of tobacco, sugar, and coffee, some of the few goods whose prices drop. Upon arrival in Europe they are readily consumed and become daily necessities, and even spread to China and Japan where official edicts banning their consumption become ineffective. Coffeehouses begin to sprout up like mushrooms at the end of this period too, where the wealthy middle classes can mingle and debate their favourite political ideas over cups of coffee. They are aided by an explosion in the amount of printed material now available, giving them much to talk about. In turn, they begin to plot and plan, making these new coffeehouses hotbeds of dissent and radicalism.
-All over the northern hemisphere, a strange drop in temperature leads to reduced crop yields, longer and harsher winters, shorter and cooler summers, and increased sea ice. Ships in the Baltic are frequently stuck in port when the waters freeze over, while the cold helps many of those malnourished unemployed and impoverished to die. In some parts of the world, a demographic decline is set in motion, while others merely suffer from stagnant populations and economies. These all contribute immensely to the general misery of life among people, including philosophers. These philosophers begin to gradually form two opposing views of the ultimate source of knowledge, whenever based either in reason or in experience. Their views will trickle down over the next few decades with considerable consequences for their rulers once these views are taken to their logical conclusion.
-Europe begins to steadily destabilize and tear itself apart, as religious and ethnic conflicts escalate. Germany is a centre for this, with the formation of Pro and Anti-Catholic factions seeking to win control of the Holy Roman Empire. The rapid expansion of Venice in Italy has dangerously distorted the balance of power in their favour there, while the Kingdom of Bohemia finds itself unable to assert its authority over the Empire. Rising powers such as Livonia, Brandenburg, and Sweden are trying to assert their own dominance, while the Polish Commonwealth slides into civil war over matters of where supreme power lies. France is still in the midst of bloody conflict between Catholics and Protestants, and Henry IV only just manages to keep the country together. His assassination in 1610 leaves a great deal of uncertainty for what may happen next.
-Advances in the field of optics have led to the development of a curious new invention. By arranging lenses in certain configuration it is known that objects can be made to appear bigger and in greater detail. One inventor has capitalized on this by inventing a special device that allows one to easily adjust these lenses. Although the level of detail and magnification is poor, an encyclopaedia in Spain from the end of this period has reasonably accurate sketches of insects up close. This same encyclopaedia also mentions the Livonian thermoscope, a device which measures temperature. Consisting of a tube of mercury in a bowl, while crude it is the first step forwards on the accurate measurement of temperature. A scale for this however has yet to exist.
-The Spanish Empire continues to invest ever more monies into naval expansion, at the expense of the land military (which has begun to fall behind in terms of both equipment and discipline). The dragon is also neglected, although the crown is given an egg as a gift by the papacy, forcing the Iberians to spend the bare minimum of monies on maintaining both creatures. The navy does not disappoint however, as it grows to become powerful both at sea and in the court as it sucks up new talent and the lion’s share of the royal budget. After bombarding several towns and privateer bases in the Bahamas, the islands are reclaimed for Spain, with the many various rogues and villains who had made their base there being hung for their crimes. Among them were many Danish and English men who proudly gave their lives to steal from the Spanish. The English still attempt to raid Spanish shipping, although many of their attempts are discovered and the mariners are eventually executed. Most attacks begin shifting towards more opportunistic attacks on lightly defended shipping as the Spanish navy steps up the ante. Pirates have been restricted, but not fully beaten yet.
-This new navy also expands the Empires influence into Asia, where the Philippines and Taiwan are both colonized and integrated into the viceroyalty of New Spain after many of the natives are shot into submission. The downside is that a great deal of silver is now starting to flow into China via these new acquisitions, with well-made European-style silken clothes leaving China, undercutting domestic silk weavers in Spain and Europe.
-King Carlos I spent much of this period and the latter part of his reign enacting major political and economic reforms intended to bolster and strengthen his overseas empire. He begins by introducing an anti-corruption policing force called “La Policia de Royal”, which effectively becomes a tool of the monarchy to purge “corrupt” officials and parliamentary representatives. Despite the good intentions, it eventually evolves into getting rid of political opponents. Most of these opponents were those standing in the way of the greatest of Carlos achievements, which was the unification of the crowns of Castile, Aragon, Portugal, and Navarre into a single political unit. He crowns himself Emperor of Iberia in an elaborate ceremony in 1592. The event prompted widespread dissent in some parts of the country (especially Portugal), although these was eventually quashed. In addition, it is a major affront to the French King and to the Holy Roman Empire, as now Europe possesses two Emperors. To consolidate this Empire, more substantial reforms would need to be undertaken.
-In the last ten years of his life, Carlos enacted a major education reform, mandating the use of Spanish as the sole language of instruction in an attempt to gradually reduce nationalist movements. The anticorruption movement headed by him gradually removed many who opposed his reforms within the civil service, eventually leading to the lesser nations of the union becoming tamed and shackled to the central government in Madrid. As he became increasingly older and senile however, he gradually conceded more powers to the parliament and became increasingly dependent upon it for support. By the start of the 17th century, he enacted new laws which put supreme sovereign power with the parliament, making it illegal to levy taxes or pass new laws without its consent. The result is that with his death in 1602 and the ascension of his son Juan I to the throne, the monarchy loses the absolute power it once had. The courts are still poorly run, while application of Castilian law to the lesser kingdoms has been met with fierce resistance.
-These reforms have done little to solve the underlying problems within Spanish society however. Dominated by powerful landowners, the parliament sets to work immediately trying to restrict the powers of the church and to enclose common lands for the lords own benefit. Population growth not only stalls, but contracts in all major rural districts. The towns are the only places to grow, which are doing well from the growth of the colonies and overseas trade in addition to the crown losing many of its old rights to tax them. The authority of the Catholic Church begins to be undermined in favour of a delicate balance between the resentful urban dwellers, impoverished peasantry, and the ruling nobility. Construction and repair of the major roads is undertaken after several new acts empowering local districts to work on them (they suffer from a severe lack of funding however). Some get around this by adopting toll roads, many of which are controlled by local aristocrats.
-The Spanish West Indian trading company is founded in 1602, with the goal of furthering private interests in the new world and the establishment of colonies. They begin in South America with the establishment of sugar plantations in areas where brazilwood production is unsuitable. Tobacco is also grown and shipped for export, while many areas are set aside for freemen to establish farms on. With considerably higher living standards and good profits to be made, many people are flocking to the colonies, contributing to population decline at home. The towns are also swelling with wealthier sorts who consume these new imports, discussing radical ideas and turning these places into hotbeds of dissent, making use of the printing press to help.
-The culmination of centuries of philosophical work comes with the publishing of several major works by Francis Bacon in this period. In these works, he outlines a new philosophy. By rejecting Aristotelianism and favouring inductive reasoning, he argues that human knowledge comes primarily from sensory experiences, in turn demanding evidence in order to support a theory to see if it is in agreement with the natural world. While this theory (named Empiricism) has yet to take off, it is already becoming influential in England, and the implication that knowledge is tentative and probabilistic will cause a great deal of interesting of discoveries to be made. One of the first applications is to dragon breeding, with which breeders have become much more skilled over the past few decades. They manage to bring several eggs to the colonies, where they successfully establish a new breeding ground.
-The Royal navy continues to be the focus of much investment by the crown during this period. New facilities are constructed in Portsmouth and Southampton, with orders for race-built galleons are made as well. Watchtowers and a ring of forts are built throughout the southern coast of England, while new shipyards and dry-docks are built to accommodate English ships in Scotland. In 1603, the death of the childless Elizabeth led to James the VI of Scotland becoming King of England and effectively uniting both crowns. In addition to bringing 2 dragons, he also brings the Scottish navy and some extra tax income. Altogether this contributes to the strengthening of not only England, but its island mentality as well. With the whole of the archipelago united (save for the increasingly rebellious Irish), the monarchy can focus on overseas expansion.
-Attempts to secure the Bahamas are met with failure, culminating in a heavy Spanish attack and siege of the main English and Danish forts in the area. Superior firepower and numbers on the Spanish side (in addition to more naval bases and Danish unwillingness) led to the Royal navy losing their engagements with Spain over these isles. A new convoy system makes privateering harder as well, forcing them to focus their activities on isolated merchant ships or raiding undefended towns. As the period draws on, Jamaica is increasingly fortified in order to fend off Spanish attacks, while English shipping finds it harder to attack towns as they begin to build gun batteries.
-At home, the scourge of highwaymen is met with military patrols. While this works to a degree in England and Wales (despite the expense), it is deeply unpopular in Ireland and the Scottish highlands. Filled with savage peoples, they frequently raid or attack these patrols. These patrols in England are later replaced with early forms of the police, where each parish is responsible for keeping their roads safe. In addition, they are also empowered to construct toll roads, which make their first widespread appearance around this time. Although unpopular among the poor, they are profitable and contribute to the development of some major routes, although their overall quality varies widely. Highwaymen are common still, but now many former highwaymen are being employed to catch those still at large.
-The Gaelic clans tend to be quite powerful, and in the early 1600s several major rebellions rise in Ulster and the Scottish highlands. Putting them down is difficult at present due to the lack of military resources allocated to these areas, although they have many sympathizers in the Scottish lowlands and Dublin pale. Instead, much of the army had been sent to the Netherlands to assist in the Dutch rebellion from Austria, where both countries (being Protestant) have much to gain from mutual trade and countering poisonous Catholic influence. After the war concludes, the English end up forming a strong alliance with the Dutch, although the consolidating and growing French state looks to acquire new territories in the wake of the recent shifts in the structure of the Holy Roman Empire.
-The rebellions by Catholics flare up again with the introduction of the King James Bible. Translated from Greek into English vernacular, it creates another division between England and the papacy, further infuriating the Catholics. Popular in England, it also helps to further standardize and consolidate the London dialect that has been growing at the expense of the others throughout the country. As of yet, it has made little headway into either Wales or Scotland, and is completely unknown in Ireland.
-The Falklands, Ascension, Tristan de Cunha, and the other Mid-Atlantic islands (including St Helena, in which the Spanish chapel is dismantled) are claimed for the English crown, and some have small wooden and earth forts built on them. Manned by skeleton crews fed by flocks of sheep, they help provide excellent spots for English ships to rest. From them, ships sail to South Africa, Guyana, and the Slave Coast, where small colonies are established to profit from trading (although the Guyana colony perishes from malaria). Permanent settlement is delayed and half-hearted however, as most of the crowns efforts have been on securing a colony in Virginia. The colony suffers from disease, supply shortages, hostile natives, and saltwater contamination. The decision is later made to move the colony to a new site, where suitability for tobacco production has been noted, and the first barrels of which begin leaving for England. Those in poverty travel to the new colony as indentured servants, while slaves are also being bought from the English trading posts in Africa to help work these fields. By 1610, a thousand people now reside in the colony, which has been named Ruckersville, and grows a popular strain of tobacco.
-The East India Company (founded 1600) begins operations, with the goal of advancing commercial and political interests in India. With the Venetians and Spanish intruding into the subcontinent, the English have brought it upon themselves to counter this influence by selling the Indians guns and plotting with various princes in order to prevent their expansion. Ceylon is the first battleground, where the English supply ships and muskets to the Ceylonese. Despite growing Venetian influence and power, the Ceylonese drags out the conflict and prevents Venice from securing the island. By 1600, rebellions frequently break out in areas under Venetian control, often forcing them to coastal forts that are attacked by English privateers. Indonesia is another battleground too, where English and Venetian ships fight for control of the Spice Islands, especially the Banda isles. The English do successfully seize control of several such islands, although they never quite manage to oust the Venetians, who retain Seram and largely focus on the conquest and subjugation of Java instead.
-In light of these many diplomatic moves overseas, the English have strengthened their naval capabilities and improved the prestige of the crown. In addition, increasing wealth has been brought by the addition of these new colonies (although heavy competition is troublesome, especially with the Venetians). These have also brought it into numerous more conflicts as the Spanish seek to consolidate control of the New World. The colonies in Guyana and South Africa have poor relations at best with their Venetian and Neapolitan neighbours, although this doesn’t stop hordes of migrants from moving to these places. Back home, the economic situation has started to stabilize, although high inflation, increasing religious tension, and worsening weather do little to improve lives. People continue to protest against enclosures of land for sheep, although this has slowed down in recent years.
-With dragons becoming gradually more important to the Danish state, the dragon harness has been modified in order to make it easier for the handlers to ride their dragons. This culminates in the invention of the karabiner, a device originally used to secure pistols to the torso when riding on horseback, but just as useful for securing riders to a dragon. The result is that dragons can now wear a large harness which, when covered with rings, allows for the rider and his assistants to quickly and easily climb on the beast without fear of falling off. This invention paves the way forwards for a revolution in warfare. The Danish are not neglecting the land however, as they have also hired a great number of engineers to rebuild and refine existing fortifications into what are now termed “star forts”, for their resemblance to a star. With low sloping walls designed to deflect cannon fire, they are an expensive but useful option for preventing breaches.
-Some of these new dragons and their riders are sent to the Antilles, where with several ships they begin to actively patrol and terrify the pirates plaguing Danish shipping. Within a decade, attacks on merchant shipping effectively cease, and with similar anti-piracy campaigns by the Spanish, the golden days of the 16th century for piracy seem to be over. These dragons gain much valuable combat experience in raiding ships in dive attacks, where at the last moment they blast the deck with fire. A rotation is also made between the different dragons, and as their numbers and the ability of the Danish state to feed and house these dragons improves, they are able to begin introducing effective patrols to the home territories as well. In the colonies of Canada, the Danes declare war on the Mikmaq and drive them from their homes in 1598, using two dragons to ravage their major settlements. Within a decade, Quebec is fully subjugated and much of it is also open to settlement by Danes. As of yet, most of the new territories are thinly settled by natives engaged in the growing fur trade, with a few colonies on the coasts and rivers in addition to trading outposts. The French have also become interested in the area, having established a colony on a nearby island.
-Dragon breeding is also fairly successful, with the main traits selected for being fire breathing. The total number of dragons held by the crown increases to 16, with the new generation having distinctly larger and longer bursts of firebreathing. They form part of the new royal bodyguard, intended to protect the sovereign from any immediate dangers. Several other dragons are also sent to the fort in Africa, where after bullying several local kings, they are given permission to establish more forts in the area and expand slaving activities.
-Diplomacy is fairly fruitful in this period, with separate treaties signed with Bohemia (promising to assist in the case of any wars involving Brandenburg) and Sweden (to ensure neutrality) in order to help keep Denmark out of continental wars and contain any nascent threats. An agreement is also made with Venice to prevent intruding into each other’s territorial claims in the new world, while several shipwrights and their blueprints travel to Naples in order to help them build and refine the latest in naval technology. In return, they are given the new pepper guns developed in Naples, intended to help disable dragons in combat.
-The dragon harness is improved upon at this time, as the recent invention of the karabiner has opened up a great deal of new opportunities. After putting a sufficient number of rings and straps onto the beast, one can use the spring-loaded karabiner to quickly move around on it and attach safely. Given that one can also attach guns and other items to the dragon this way, it makes the prospect of carrying armed musketeers and heavy objects to drop on people much more feasible. To further the use of dragons in warfare, the Neapolitans have taken several ship designs given to them by the Danish and extensively modified them to have room for dragons. In addition, they carry enough space for food for the dragons as well, meaning that with sufficient monies to pay for them, one can deploy dragons anywhere.
-Using these dragons in a similar manner to the Danish, the Neapolitans carve out several additional territories in Africa for slaving, while also expanding the colony at the Cape. These battles are among the first in which both the new harnesses and dragon transport ships make an appearance, courtesy of Danish ingenuity (for which the Neapolitans have given the Danish pepper guns). They are also the first in which the intelligence of dragons is becoming steadily more obvious. Many of them, in addition to speaking, offer suggestions of strategy and tactics to their handlers, while also becoming skilled at carrying out manoeuvres and working in formation. Given that slave trading has become steadily more profitable as demand for their services increases, many European nations are starting to jump into it, building chains of forts and trading posts up and down the African coast. The Cape colony is also a destination for those with few prospects back home, and while it has grown, the English have also begun to settle in the area.
-At home, Naples problems continue to compound, especially as the Venetians increasingly dominate both the peninsula and trade. Tax revenues have been in decline recently, while the population has also been steadily contracting (helped by poor harvests and crushing poverty). The merchants and traders have been gradually side-lined by the Venetians, with many moving to work in either state-protected enterprises (such as the colonies or slaving) or moving elsewhere to conduct business. The costs of maintaining an army and ruling over Tunis have eaten at Naples finances, with many loans being borrowed to cover costs. As the church and nobility steadily enclose or seize land from impoverished smallholders, population decline and tax revenues worsen. By the opening of the 17th century, it has become painfully clear that Naples is no longer as powerful as it used to be.
Ruskie – Kingdom of Mutapa
State Religion: Mbira Dza umgqomo
-Increasing European influence has led to the gradual transformation of Mutapa as their rulers seek to emulate the wealthy and powerful Portuguese who not only possess the nearby coast, but a major worldwide empire. This is most apparent in architecture, where starting with churches, there are now several palaces and buildings inside the towns done in the Portuguese style. In addition, as people continue to migrate into the towns, the necessity of well-built and strong buildings becomes more pressing as time goes on, and the foreign building styles seem fit for the purpose. The Jesuits also have to financially support themselves overseas, and end up establishing the first banks in Mutapa as one of the ways of doing this. The natives here have yet to become accustomed to a money economy however, which is one of the major problems in aiding the modernization of the country.
-Under royal patronage, the Jesuits have eagerly begun to convert the populace to Catholicism in droves, in return for supporting and aiding the strengthening of the monarchy. Many old customs are gradually dropped or banned in the move to become more Christian, although this often prompts rebellion. Armed with harquebuses sold to them by the Portuguese, the state makes short work of the rebels. When the army modernizes further and adopts a larger number of firearms and cavalry, they expand to the southeast, often with the aid of traders and missionaries who find that mutual relations can help advance their interests in these areas. The Xai-Xai suffers greatly from this, with many being crushed and later forcibly converted to Catholicism. Despite this, the king of Mutapa has yet to convert, seemingly because he does not wish to upset the nobility (although the Jesuits have made inroads with them).
-With improving optical technology, the Egyptians have figured out a way to take advantage with a most curious invention. By using lenses in a tube to magnify objects, one can quite clearly see far-off objects in considerable detail. First used to identify craters on the moon and several of Jupiter’s moons, several of them are made for merchants and seafarers, who find the device a useful tool for navigation and spotting far-off objects. Some of these merchants bring back new crops from Europe (introduced there from the New World) such as tomatoes, pumpkins, and sunflowers. They are not only an instant hit in Egypt, but are integrated into a new agricultural system whereby all of the land can be used for crops instead of leaving some of it fallow. This involves planting a nitrogen fixing plant (such as clover, or more recently peanuts) in one of the fields in rotation, allowing increased yields.
-The Sultan finally grows weary of the Mamluks, setting up a careful plot to rid them all for good. In 1582, he demands each Mamluk require guards under the pretence of having them ready for military deployment and protection (he later bribes these guards). He later calls up many of them to attend a feast, at which he gives the signal and his new model army turns their guns on the Mamluks. They are systematically executed by firing squad, and the plot quickly spreads throughout Egypt. Many of the remaining Mamluks are murdered by their guards, and within several weeks the entirety of the old aristocracy has been purged from the country as a whole. The surviving ones are captured and brought before the Sultan, where they are given the choice to either submit to his authority or be executed. Unsurprisingly, most of them agree to submit to his authority, and as reward for the native Egyptian officers, the Sultan grants many of them high administrative and military positions that the Mamluks once possessed, formally securing their power within the country.
-With the Mamluk purge complete, the state goes on a massive spree of major land requisitions, seizing all estates with 5 or more acres (effectively all of them) and redistributing them to the common people (including the landless). A greatly celebrated move by the common people, the Sultan now enjoys great support among the common people, although when it comes to tending their fields and farms, output effectively collapses. With many smaller farmers unable to use ploughs or animals, many of them end up selling their land to their neighbours and moving to the towns. Others are too inept to run farms properly, and general disruption from the Mamluk purge worsens matters. Many merchants and prosperous Egyptian gentry end up buying up much of this new land at knock down prices. They are unable to restore production quickly enough however, and a string of hunger years and famine plague the country during the 1590s.
-The Egyptians attempt to establish colonies of their own overseas in competition with the Europeans, starting with one ship intending to plant a colony nearby Ruckersville. Unfortunately, it is attacked by the Venetians and is forced to land south, where disease and lack of supplies causes the crew to perish. They do manage to successfully bring their contents of bees, dirt, cats, horses, and pigs (for some reason) to the colony, but with the colony perishing in 1598, the animals end up escaping into the local environment. Within a decade, bee colonies begin to spread throughout Carolina.
-The conflict with Venice escalates as the years drag on, especially when the Venetians grow more confident. In 1604, they sign an alliance with the Ottoman Empire and Persia, with all three countries offering assistance in an invasion. The next year, the Venetians brought much of their fleet (along with Ottoman assistance) to Alexandria, where they shelled the city and brought a dozen dragons (both owned by the Ottomans and Venetians). After breaking through the defences of the city, the dragons drop pots of flaming oil on the defenders, while musketeers let off a few shots from the backs of the creatures. The Egyptians, with no effective means of combating this threat, are forced to flee from the city after it is overrun.
-To make matters worse, the Persians also invade at the same time, advancing into the Levant to support Ottoman forces. With multiple fronts to contend with, the Egyptians rapidly lose ground as the campaign wears on. By 1607, Cairo is lost after a brutal siege lasting 18 months, which reduces the inhabitants to eating boiled leather. The Venetians guns are much more reliable then the Egyptian matchlocks, the Venetian flintlocks being particularly useful on dragonback. In addition, the Venetians use a new tactic where they fire by rank, producing deadly volleys and giving the Egyptians little time to recover in an assault. After the loss of Cairo, the Egyptian state disintegrates and falls under Venetian, Ottoman, and Persian occupation. The treaty splits much of Egypt between the Ottomans and Persia, with the lions share going to the Sublime Porte. With this, the Sultan of Egypt loses his throne, and is forced to flee the country, bringing the dynasty to an end.
-As the Aztec Empire continues to modernize and adopt foreign technologies, they have managed to get their hands on a recent French invention. Called a flintlock, it uses a piece of flint striking a steel plate to generate sparks that fall into the pan. Using a simple mechanism and fairly reliable along with being cheap to manufacture, it is the pinnacle of firearm locks. The first few guns arrive in the country in the early 17th century, the first being given as gifts. In addition, the Jesuits have brought over several European medical textbooks and surgeons to help develop medicine within Mexico. Some municipal regulations are adopted for midwives, while quarantines and effective ways of controlling and treating disease are introduced as well. The population begins to finally recover.
-The Aztec make use of their dragons and French assistance to expand northwards, bringing many of the broken city states that used to be powerful a mere century before under their rule. They have also set up several missions in Baja, with the intention of colonizing the area. The French have become interested in colonies as well, having established one to the north of Mexico based primarily around ranching and agriculture. The Aztec has also managed to begin their own dragon breeding program, and successfully hatch two new dragons with assistance from several Jesuits. Paid for by the parliament, the nobility are wishing to establish their own aerial forces capable of taking on European powers. Fighting with them is of course not possible yet, and to help maintain relations until conflict inevitably breaks out, the parliament establishes several embassies in Europe and maintains cordial relations with the main powers (including their main ally France).
-The Mexicans have become increasingly westernized, with large sections of society converted to Christianity. By the opening of the 17th century, a vast majority attend mass, forcing the emperor and parliament to disband the monopoly of the state religion (which is in terminal decline) and to give Jesuit seminaries additional powers and funding throughout the country (such as the establishment of hospitals). French and Latin are increasingly elevated as the language of writing and instruction and as this period comes to a close the vast majority of the middle and upper classes are fluent in French. Nahuatl is an optional course, although it is not as popular.
-Cocoa, coffee, and distilled alcohols become popular throughout Mexico, with the government eventually setting up taxes on these goods in order to draw additional revenue. Coca plants are also becoming steadily more popular as they are imported from Peru, with the leaves being chewed to give an energy boost to labourers. They, and the other goods made in distilleries and plantations are being sold to French merchants, who take it back home to Europe to sell for a profit. The Mexican government has also enacted laws which establish several shipwrights and manufacture fishing trawlers for sale to fishermen, with their cost subsidized. The intention behind this is largely to reduce the heavy toll on the land that plantation agriculture creates, and to create a group of men with the necessary skills for enlistment into the navy. After several years of this policy, a census is held; revealing the population of the Empire to be approximately 2.1 million, and revealing that over 90% of this figure are involved in agriculture or unskilled labor.
-After a century of experimentation, the master gunsmiths of Venice have finally created a reliable and useful design for gun locks that looks sure to stand the test of time. Using a piece of flint to strike a steel plate and generate sparks that fly into a pan, it is made using relatively few parts, is easy to repair and manufacture, and is reliable (unlike many other firing mechanisms). At the grand arsenal in Venice, a great number of these new flintlock guns are manufactured, in addition to another strange invention. By filling up clay pots with flammable oil or getting cast iron grenades and carrying them on dragons, one can bomb an area (if rather inaccurately) and deny soldiers from advancing. While innovative, it is extremely dangerous for both riders and dragons, as often the loose bombs fall off the creatures, and the riders find it hard to pick up and drop the bombs from the creatures.
-Nonetheless, this is seen as good enough for the Republics new military plans. After an Egyptian ship was discovered attempting to establish a colony in the New World, the Venetians signed an alliance with both Persia and the Ottoman Empire, promising to divide up the country between themselves when it came to war. With this in place, the Venetians enacted several military reforms, focusing largely on infantry. By arranging soldiers into ranks, one can order the first rank to fire a volley and kneel, before allowing the second to deliver another volley. While it increases firepower, it does leave gunners vulnerable to cavalry charges, necessitating the deployment of pikemen to protect the gunners from assault. The focus is however on firepower, with theory and practice favouring an increasing number of musketeers over pikemen. This new formation is a development of the Tercio, and is named the “Vernio” by commanders. Attempts have been made to tie cannon to the backs of dragons too, but their bulk makes their use in battle impractical and dangerous. They instead carry bombs, many of which are just as dangerous.
-The scheming Auditore governors of Ceylon are granted powers to rule over Ceylon on the condition they subjugate the rest of the island, which they begin to do so at this time. Unfortunately for them, the native inhabitants frequently rebel, and are being supplied with firearms by the English. After the Sultan later begins to acquire galleons, he orders attacks on Venetian shipping and their main port whenever possible, where he is aided by the efforts of English privateers. The common people on the island are also roused into rebelling against their overlords by the English, with many tax collectors being badly beaten and chased out of the villages. By the start of the 17th century, the Venetians have effectively lost control of much of the island, and are forced to supply the few remaining coastal forts at great expense. The Venetian East Indian trading company, founded by the Auditores, finds similar difficulties in Indonesia as they quarrel with the English. Java is eventually invaded and brought partially under control of the company, while Seram is also secured for the Republic. In spite of this, the English have taken control of many of the other Spice Islands, including the coveted Nutmeg Islands.
-The West India Company has much more success in colonial endeavours, as they settle one colony in Guyana and import a great number of slaves to work the plantations and mines being established there. Despite major losses from disease and piracy, they are eventually able to maintain a toehold in the region (unlike the English colony, which perished at around the same time). The Feochona family is the primary one invested here, and frequently they quarrel with the Auditores back home for control of the Venetian Senate. Despite being involved in overseas colonial expansion, both families have a considerable number of enterprises at home (such as glassworks, firearms, textiles, mirrors, and metalworking) that help form the basis of their wealth.
-Venice declares war on Egypt in 1605, and as promised, the Ottomans and Persians also enter the war on their side. The first part of the campaign focuses on the siege of Alexandria by a joint Venetian-Ottoman force, while the Ottomans and Persians invaded the Levant. The Egyptians were forced to pull back to reinforce Alexandria, but heavy artillery bombardment and the use of dragons to drive defenders from the fortifications helped with the seizure of the city. The remaining Egyptian forces fled to Cairo, which held out for 18 months in a long and brutal siege. The Vernios and the dragons showed their worth, while the Egyptians had little in the way to deal effectively with the dragons. Their own ones were poorly trained in comparison, and by the time the city of Cairo was lost, the country was fully subjugated. At the peace treaty itself, Egypt was divided up between the Persians and Ottomans, with the lions share going to the Ottomans. Morea and a portion of the Adriatic coastline were ceded to Venice by the Ottomans as well, the Sultan being more than reimbursed by the acquisition of Egypt.
-Altogether, these massive territorial acquisitions have made the Republic much larger and wealthy, although it has a lot more to defend now. Austria ceded the Republic their possessions in Italy when they became the Kingdom of Bohemia, which while a boon for Venice and giving them near-dominance of Italy, also made them greatly resented. Religious tensions have risen considerably since then, with a Catholic revival made possible by the growing power of the Counter-Reformation. Wages are still either stagnant or in decline in the many urban areas, and many try immigrating to either the colonies or joining the army. High inflation and declining crop yields are another problem to contend with, and most investment seems to be going straight into developing colonies rather than domestic industry and agriculture. It is common for bread riots to afflict the major cities.
-With the Chinese realizing that some European weaponry is not only superior, but can be imported and replicated within reason, a quest has begun to obtain the latest artillery pieces. Most older Chinese cannon tend to be bulky with immobile carriages and amateur gun crews, but now newer pieces made from solid bronze casts and utilizing trained gunnery crews are becoming increasingly common. In addition, lighter carriages means that these new pieces can be pulled by animals (or even carried by dragons) to positions on the field or different positions in a fortification, allowing firepower to be delivered to where it is required. Of course, dragons require specialist training in order to not only carry and move these new pieces, but to also work in integrated military units as well. This training largely covers the dragons intended for military service, although those going into civil service receive some training for times of emergency.
-The dragons intended for military service are stationed as elite response forces, each based at an important port or city that allows them to quickly reach any hotspots of trouble. Working together with the bureaucracy, these dragons continue to gradually assume greater importance as the institution holding together the vast Ming Empire. The celestial dragons are sent to oversee regional governors as their numbers finally permit their basing in far-off provinces, aiding in the centralization of powers. The unworkable civil servants are quietly side-lined or removed by these dragons, eventually resulting in their complete dominance of the state. The grand palaces and homes are replaced with pavilions and cattle pens, and although these beasts are more efficient and loyal, they are deeply resented by the peasantry.
-The increase of trade with Europe is a double-edged sword in China. The flow of silver from Peru has led to heavy inflation and the decline of tax revenue, while many are switching to new trades in order to make a living. Manufactured goods are exported to Europe (such as silks and ceramics), while new crops transform ordinary lives. The advent of the sweet potato drives a great migration westwards into the interior, increasing the populations and making the country harder to administrate. Soil erosion becomes increasingly problematic as forests are cleared to make way for mulberry plantations and sweet potatoes, causing flooding to worsen in step with climate change. Most of this climate change has seen drying and cooling weather in China, often leading to widespread famine. Epidemics brought by European traders (often bringing diseases from the rest of the world) ravage vast areas of the empire and kill the malnourished who survived the famines. By 1610, the population has actually declined a little, and rebellions that frequently break out are brutally crushed by the growing dragon forces.
-In 1592, the recently unified Japanese state felt confident enough to invade Korea with the intention of annexing it and later invading the Ming dynasty. Bringing over dragons and a massive army equipped with Portuguese guns, they seized much of the peninsula early on in the war after several bloody engagements. However, the Chinese entered the war on the Korean side and mobilized their large numbers of dragons to support the Korean navy at sea. In addition, trading privileges and financial aid was given to the Jesuits in Japan in return for their support in securing vital supplies of new firearms and other weaponry for the rather incompetent Korean army. The war eventually dragged out into a stalemate, and with constant attacks on shipping by both dragons and the Korean navy, the Japanese were forced to leave the peninsula in 1598. This decision was strengthened by the increasing unrest within the home country, as large numbers of Christian converts rebelled against unfair taxation and conscription. In 1600, the Battle of Sekighara ends with Mitsunari winning, but his death shortly afterwards brings down the tenuously unified state once more as it collapses into civil war.
-Several rather strange experimental inventions have been developed as of late in Livonia, presumably in order to gain any advantage possible on the field of battle. This begins with a bizarre cannon design, considered an early form of light artillery. By wrapping leather around a thin bronze tube, one produces a light gun that can be quickly moved by a small team of men (or a horse) to deliver firepower to where it is needed. While a massive step forwards, the heavily insulated barrel ends up warping the gun after a few shots and makes it difficult to reload and use safely. The Livonians also try to make their musketeers more flexible by adopting the plug bayonet invented several years ago in Germany, although their heavy firearms seem largely unsuitable for the task (much like the German variants). This is resolved by slightly reducing the calibre and making it lighter, so as to make it much easier to use as a short pike when the time calls for it.
-Additional reforms are being carried out in Livonia to strengthen the crowns military capabilities. Soldiers are different parts of the country are housed within the same barracks, while officers and soldiers are to be treated as “Livonians” as opposed to Estonians, Latvians or Germans. Preachers make this point clear in their sermons, stressing the importance of solidarity against foreign powers threatening the country (especially the Russians). Given that the army is small and flexibility is essential, soldiers are given training in many different areas. Several units of musketeers are given horses to ride upon into battle for deployment, effectively making them dragoons that can deliver mobile firepower. Artillery crews are stressed to focus on speed as well, and they are all trained so as to take over different roles whenever the crew happens to perish in battle. Pikemen are also drilled to pick up their comrades firearms when needed and operate them (something becoming increasingly common as battles take longer to open and many frustrated pikemen switch to guns after being unable to participate).
-These military reforms are generally designed with the purpose of improving the mobility and flexibility of the Livonian army, especially as the reforms with pikemen, dragoons, artillery, and musketeers show. Cavalry units are given short barrelled carbines and are trained extensively with them, with their task being to ride up to an exposed flank of the enemy army before letting off a volley and retiring to reload. Infantry formations become thinner and wider (increasing firepower and reducing the chances of being hit, at the disadvantage of being vulnerable to charges), and integrated tactics are touted as key to victory on the field. Advances are to be supported by artillery bombarding a position, while infantry and cavalry work together to support one another and keep up the momentum. The King of Livonia is most interested in seeing these reforms through, not only personally inspecting his new army, but standardizing all firearms to a single calibre (19 mm) and mandating only three types of artillery (the leather cannon, field guns, and siege guns) with 3 separate calibres. Unfortunately this requires a massive rearmaments program, but by 1600 the Livonian army is not only equipped and ready, but eager to prove their prowess in war.
-Allying with Sweden and the Commonwealth, Livonia launches an ambitious invasion of Russia during the time of troubles in 1602. Already crippled by a famine that killed a third of the civilian population, Russia is in no way prepared for this brutal war. Pushing hard and fast, they encircle the Russian armies and batter them with superior and disciplined firepower, quickly capturing vast swathes of the countryside and pushing towards Moscow. The impotent Russian state is in no position to offer any resistance, especially with the Swedish and Polish entering the war and seizing vast tracts of land. Dragons make an appearance during the conflict on both sides, although the Russian ones are starved and during battle several of them go insane, ripping off their handlers and fleeing. After several sieges throughout 1603-06, the Russians are forced to cede large portions of their ancestral lands to Livonia, Sweden, and the Commonwealth respectively. The successful conclusion of the war is celebrated by the Livonians, who effectively doubled the size of their territories. The Swedish agree to a military alliance with Livonia, while studying their reforms in order to improve the quality of the Swedish army. The Swedish themselves are becoming increasingly convinced of the utility of dragons too, having captured many eggs in the Russian breeding grounds. The Swedish also seem interested in further military expansion, something made more feasible by their recent conquests.
-The Livonian state continues to advance spectacularly during this time, patronizing the offices of printers and supporting the publication of the first Livonian newspaper (although written in German). The new bible is also taken into the annexed Russian territories, where after the Orthodox are increasingly side-lined, the Livonians try to force them to learn one of the three main languages of Livonia and to switch to the state church. This does prompt several rebellions, but they are brutally crushed. Dragons are especially helpful in ensuring that the people stay loyal, as the birth of two additional ones at this time allows frequent patrols over restless areas. The peasantry have little idea of how to counter these beasts, and so begrudgingly accept the new bibles and lords they now have. Some of these dragons wear curious metal plates as a form of crude armour, although they offer little additional protection for their weight, given that their thick hides already stop many bullets.
-All of these recent wars have been a considerable drain on finances, and the Livonian state is forced to sell off many royal monopolies on forestry and mining. One of the upsides to this has been a small economic boom, as many of these goods are needed in warfare, although this is only temporary. The collection of taxes from the new territories brings hope that they can balance the budget, although many decry soldiers spending their monies on tobacco and other luxuries that have recently started to arrive from the new world. Inflation is steadily increasing in addition as silver trickles down from banks and traders operating in Western Europe, which luckily for Livonia has made loans slightly cheaper to pay off (although they still possess a considerable amount of debt and pay large interest rates on it). Most of these debts are held by private merchants with wildly varying interest rates, making borrowing money difficult and unreliable.
-Copying foreign developments in Egypt, the Persians have come up with their own special optical device intended to allow the user to view objects at a great distance in more detail. Called a telescope or spyglass, it consists of a tube with several lenses in it, which when arranged in a particular manner, works admirably. It is first adopted for military and astronomical use, where the advantages of such an invention are obvious. Another rather interesting invention involves the dual-roller cotton gin, invented in India several centuries ago and having spread to Persia quite recently. What the Persians do that is considerably innovative however, is to attach small metal hooks and barbs to the rollers, allowing it to easily separate the seeds from the cotton without jamming. The earliest models are adopted for use on cotton farms, and save a great deal of labour in cotton processing, significantly improving the profit margin. The raw cotton is then often sold to Indian merchants, who process it into cloth.
-The Persian shah begins an anticorruption campaign in his Empire, starting with himself oddly enough. He cuts down on the major expenses of feasts, pawns off the expensive furniture and purchases simple (but finely made) wooden stools and tables, with no gold or jewel decoration. The numbers of servants kept are also considerably reduced, and the shah even moves into a smaller house (although it is still a considerable comfortable and large one). The monies saved from this are ploughed into the army, which is seen as more important than the jewels and feasts of the shah. This money does not directly go into increasing the number of men that can be conscripted, but largely covers the new reforms, heavily based upon the Venetian model. Their ranking system is adopted in addition to a merit-based method of appointing officers and other commanders, with uniforms being important to this endeavour. Like the Ottoman Empire, the Persians adopt a standardized uniform at this time for their soldiers, in addition to ensuring they receive proper rations and lodging when on campaign or are on peace duties.
-To encourage inventors to come out of the woodwork, the shah offers a grand prize to those who can demonstrate new inventions to him, with gold and land involved. The two main inventors to come during this time demonstrate the new telescope and the cotton gin (both of which are most likely stolen and remodelled versions of Egyptian and Indian designs), and for their work they are granted comfortable estates to retire in for their work. This offer is also given to the best gunsmiths in the country, quickly leading to a proliferation of many competing gun designs, some of which also appear to closely resemble foreign weapons. Many of these guns are later sold to the Mughal Empire in return for two dragon eggs, which are later hatched successfully.
-The Qizilibash (that didn’t rise up in rebellion) are given an ultimatum by the shah, where they are offered a position in the royal guard as an elite force of soldiers and other privileges. Given their weakened position due to the growing power of the shah, they accept the offer, and soon they too are working to shoot those who rejected the offer. With the Qizilibash tamed, the shah then moves to work on the separation of secular and religious law, much to the horror of the imams. To make this more palatable, the shah says that they are only barred from committing physical harm, and that if they wish to carry out a punishment (such as execution) they must be handed over to secular authorities. The secular courts gradually expand during this time, slowly undermining religious law. The shah also carries out education reforms, stressing the need for children to understand Islamic scripture, arithmetic, and the state-run newspaper, which begins printing at this time. Printed with the aid of imported Venetian presses, it appeals to the growing literate audience within the country, although some of them have started to print and distribute their own interesting materials.
-Allying with Venice and the Ottoman Empire, the Persians invade Egypt via the Levant, making use of their reformed army and support from the Ottomans. The first few battles result in near stalemates as the Egyptians make use of dragons to raid supply lines. Unfortunately, the loss of Alexandria forces them to retreat, and after several increasingly desperate battles the Egyptians break. The Persians manage to push through into the Palestine in the first year of the campaign, before meeting up with the Venetians and the other Ottoman forces at Cairo. The war goes considerably successfully, although with major financial and logistical costs. The Ottomans are also ceded most of the wealthy acquisitions (not to say that the new Persian territories aren’t also valuable), and while all parties are allied in this conflict, this may not be so in the future.
-The Germans have focused a great deal of time and energies into the manufacture and development of gunpowder weaponry, and one of these involves the older swivel gun. Consisting of a mall iron cannon on a swivel, it utilizes cast iron “cartridges” with shot and powder already in them. While having existed for several centuries, recent improvements to them have made it possible to fit them on carriages and employ grapeshot in them as well. Their major disadvantage is the weight of the iron cartridges, which must be prepared in advance, and their poor range. To compensate for this, a number of rifled firearms are also developed at this time, with the job of riflemen being to help pick off and delay soldiers assaulting a fort or ship. Given that these rifles foul easily, are bulky, and take a long while to reload (two shots a minute is the highest rate of fire), they too are only really feasible for adoption in siege warfare, where both sides can spend time shooting at targets at their leisure.
-With the power of the Hohenzollerns continuing to grow, they make more investments into their military. Cavalry units begin to be raised, while infantry is regularly drilled for seven weeks before being fit for service (a depressing life of drudgery that nonetheless maintains discipline and regularity to the military machine). The clever marriage with the Duke of Prussia pays off in 1609 when Ducal Prussia is inherited by Brandenburg (although they are still responsible for their duties to the Polish commonwealth). To consolidate this expansion of the demesne, Sigismund declares himself King of Brandenburg-Prussia the next year, much to the annoyance of several princes in the Holy Roman Empire and to the Polish state. Nonetheless, large military parades are held in both Berlin and Konigsberg to celebrate. The Polish denounce this move as illegal, and declare Prussia to be the rightful property of the Livonian crown. They have yet to act upon it, due to their own concerns abroad.
-John Sigismund also becomes known for being a major patron of the arts and a supporter of the common man, leading to many dubbing him “King of the commoners”. He rents off large portions of his personal estates for low rates to the landless, while also employing bankers to loan out monies to aid in the development of agricultural estates. Within several decades, the unemployment issue seems to be gradually waning as agriculture moves towards increasing yields and selling the crops for export, while the towns benefit from royal charters granting them more freedoms with regards to trade. Sigismund also funds many small schoolhouses in order to help educate the lower orders and give them both a sense of loyalty to the state and their faith. With this partial economic revival, the first newspapers and libraries begin to slowly appear, although they are considerably rare. Famine is still common however, while outbreaks of disease and religious violence still plague the country from time to time.
-The Cherokee have started contacting Europeans and adopting some of their innovations (particularly Spanish ones). This starts with the introduction of horses, an animal capable of taking riders considerable distances and giving them many numerous advantages in a military setting. In addition, some European traders have brought their own medical techniques for treating Smallpox and other diseases (most of which rely on isolating patients and giving them food and water until they recover). The eventual result is a decline in the number of deaths to the disease and a greater control and understanding of it, giving these peoples an edge over their disorganized neighbours who are dying in heaps from introduced diseases (although a quarter of all Cherokee die from such diseases at the same time).
-The Cherokee begin their next aggressive war of expansion by invading the Creek peoples to the south, raiding many of their major villages and utilizing their new horses to encircle and cut off isolated groups of warriors. Over the next 30 years, they slowly expand southwards and come into increasing contact with the Spanish and their Jesuit missionaries. A new position in each tribe is later created from their interactions with the European and those afflicted with smallpox. Called a “Spirit taker”, this man’s job is to watch out for signs of disease and quarantine the infected within a single large hut, while employing helpers to keep the afflicted fed and watered. Due to his association with death, he lives on his own and wears thick clothing so that nobody may look upon him. While a detestable position, it helps to slow down the major demographic decline afflicting the other tribes.
-There is a move towards centralizing individual tribes into larger settlements as disease and war take their toll. A lot of older villages are consequently abandoned and become overgrown, and the Cherokee generally retreat from interacting with the Spanish and the Jesuits. When they do have to interact, they keep foreigners on the outskirts of their settlements and permit them only for trade. Women are encouraged to have as many children as possible in order to replace lost numbers, but this does little to reverse demographic decline, given that humans already naturally do this. Envoys establish cordial relations with the Shawnee to the north, although they are only just starting to stabilize from the outbreak of major diseases. The plains that used to be common and made travel easy are also starting to become overgrown, with much of the east coast gradually reverting to forest as slash and burn agriculture fades with population decline. The worst culprit however is not the white man or his viruses, but the common earthworm. Having been wiped out in the last ice age, they have returned, and while they spread slowly, they have already forced natives to move out of areas where the Spanish live, causing them to migrate to the Cherokee and cause several conflicts over land.
-Closely following the revolution in military thought in Livonia, the Commonwealth develops several new weapons, seeing the future in them. Grenades have been used for centuries, but now an arsenal has been established in Warsaw which not only makes them to standard sizes, but can also make reliable fuses as well. Their invention necessitates the creation of a new soldier called the “grenadier”, a large stocky man with a good throwing arm. It is his task to throw grenades during battle to soften up an enemy formation before closing with swords in close combat. In addition, the Polish have also adopted the plug bayonets of the Germans and Livonians, for much the same reasons as those countries, for it seems increasingly advantageous to have musketeers that can not only deliver firepower, but protect themselves from charges as well.
-Other reforms see considerable investment into the navy, especially as the Baltic becomes increasingly contested over by the various powers bordering it. The Polish response has been most curious, as they seem to prefer building large, well-defended ships with huge gun batteries. They are then moored outside of the major harbours and rivers, with the intention of being mobile (albeit slow) floating gun batteries. Some are even large enough to allow dragons to land and take off from them, although most of the masts and sails have to be removed to make way for the beasts to land. Another most bizarre reform on land is not only the adoption of grenadiers into the army, but drilling musketeers to use their bayonets in an offensive role. Perhaps the first to do this, they are drilled to fire off one or more rounds before fixing their bayonets and charging. A volley followed by a charge seems extremely effective against disorganized enemies, or those in loose formation unable to break the momentum of a charge. These musketeers are supported by Hussars in these charges, helping to break up an enemy formation before the infantry arrive.
-As the threat of Russia becomes steadily more pressing, the Polish sign separate alliances with Livonia and Sweden at this time, creating a unified coalition to advance their own interests. Part of this deal requires that Prussia be granted to the Livonian King in return for his support, but unfortunately the Margrave of Brandenburg refuses to give up his claims. Sigismund not only seizes control of Ducal Prussia, but he also declares himself King of these territories in a royal ceremony, in a serious affront to the Commonwealth, with the official position declaring the act as illegal. In the few years since this declaration however, the Polish have been unable to act on their promise, given the war with Russia and the necessity of pressing internal reforms. Some of these reforms cover giving additional rights to the ethnic minorities of the commonwealth (such as those Lithuania, White Russia, and Ruthenia), most of them involving the granting of additional autonomy and granting printers the right to print books in the local vernacular tongue.
-When Livonia declares war on Russia, they are the effective war leaders, winning a string of brilliant victories in the country and smashing Russian resistance. While the Polish have adopted reforms of their own, they are not as excellent as the Livonian ones, leading to them becoming bogged down on several fronts as they advance eastwards. The lack of artillery mobility tends to leave charges dangerously unsupported, and the focus on melee requires discipline that is more common of their neighbours. While eventually successful in the war, they largely gain this success due to the complete collapse of the Russian state and military, much of which was helped by the Livonians. Casualties in this war are considerably high, leading to the Polish king being forced to come to the difficult decision of weakening the Sejm in favour of the crown.
-When the Polish king tries to enact the necessary military and budgetary reforms, he is often blocked by the Sejm, who often refuse to allow him to raise the necessary taxes and soldiers required. In 1609, he secretly moves the royal dragons to his palace with some artillery, and declares himself to be the ultimate authority in the country, well above the Sejm. The Sejm itself is besieged by his troops and dragons, but before he can enter the building to arrest the delegates there, many of them flee the city out a back door to the countryside, where they raise the call for a rebellion to overthrow the despot and give ultimate sovereign power to the Sejm. By 1610, they end up bringing many separate provinces over to their side in the sprawling and vast commonwealth, and have raised an army comparable to that of the King. Religious and ethnic differences have started to come into play, as many different sides have little idea of who to fight for. Their support may be crucial in winning this escalating civil war.
-The Austrians have worked more on the flying harnesses developed over the past century, and by this stage they have a new invention to make riding dragons a much easier and safer affair. Called the karabiner, it is a spring-loaded clasp which can be quickly removed and attached to a series of rings on a dragons harness. In such a manner, one can hang off or stand on any part of the dragons’ body, opening up a great deal of new uses for dragons. Another military development has been with artillery, as the need to produce a piece with flexibility between use in siege and field duties becomes pressing. Called a howitzer, it uses a short stumpy barrel and measured charges and angles of elevation to throw over obstacles (like hills and walls). These early models are incredibly inaccurate and tend to be immobile as well, but they are an improvement over older inflexible pieces formerly used in siege warfare.
-When Phillip II of Austria dies in 1590, his son Ferdinand becomes the next archduke of Austria, although he has several considerably different plans for the Hapsburg dynasty. Establishing or improving relations with the Protestant nations (such as Denmark-Norway) and the Moslem ones (such as Persia and Egypt), he later enacts several constitutional reforms to hopefully preserve the ailing Empire. He begins by ceding a vast number of territories to various member states within Germany, and effectively cedes most of the Italian territories to the growing Venetian state. Peace is also concluded with the Netherlands, with effectively the entirety of the Austrian possessions being granted to the Dutch, a move celebrated by Calvinists and Lutherans throughout the empire. It is regarded with horror by the Catholics and the papacy however, who see the weakening Austrian state as becoming a major problem for the unity of Christendom.
-In 1593 this process continues with the moving of the capital to Prague from Vienna and Ferdinand crowning himself “King of Bohemia”, a move which alienates most of the Catholics in Germany as he moved his base to a heavily protestant area. While this does help keep the Dutch within the Empire (seemingly for protection against the French), it causes major riots in many heavily Catholic areas. Several bloody revolts are put down, and in 1609 several of the most powerful Catholic states form the Catholic League, led by Bavaria. The loss of so many territories has also meant the Bohemians have had major revenue shortfalls too, although the twenty or so dragons they now possess outnumber the rest of Germanys dragons combined. To further strengthen their position, the Bohemian crown stresses familial ties with Poland, hoping that they may be of assistance when conflict arises. The Austrian archduchy itself is becoming increasingly rebellious, spurred on by a Catholic revival brought about by the counter-reformation. The Catholic league begins to arm itself heavily at this time, prompting a counter response by the Protestant states to escalate the size of their militaries and to breed or acquire more dragons.
Turn 5: 1610 to 1640Post link: http://facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1427292&p=46319385&viewfull=1#post46319385
Turn quote: First came the Greycoats to eat all my swine, Next came the Bluecoats to make my sons fight, Next came the Greencoats to make my wife whore, Next came the Browncoats to burn down my home. I have naught but my life; now come the Blackcoats to rob me of that. – Anonymous
Events of the years 1610 to 1640:
-Galileo publishes several scientific works, including important work on the movement of physical bodies on earth and in the void above. Picking up from Copernicus, he argues that the earth rotates around the sun, in opposition to church doctrine. He begins to promote this theory as fact, gathering warnings from the church to rescind his views due to a lack of supporting evidence. After initially backing down, he later begins to teach these theories once more, prompting a large discussion on the matter by various theologians and philosophers. Several of his major political enemies abuse this to conclude him guilty of heresy for promoting a theory with little evidence, and after banning his works; Galileo is put under house arrest, where he is unable to involve himself with politics.
-The economic turmoil of the preceding decades has begun to cool down in addition to the planet. Silver output from the New World has gone into decline, a boon for countries badly stricken by inflation and lenders; bad news for countries dependent on silver mining and large debts. In the many conflicts that break out or continue during this period, a great number of states are forced into bankruptcy from the heavy costs of war. Old challenges resurface in ugly new forms as now strange new secular movements have begun appearing, influenced by the great thinkers. Their ideas spread by the printing press; they take the form of the lower classes, middling peoples, and gentry who argue for radical new forms of government. Although most of them are crushed, their queries raised do not go away so easily.
-The Great War of Europe begins in this period. Complex in its causes and escalation, it began as a series of trading disputes and rebellions between several participants, eventually growing to cover the question of whom would dominate Europe and the wider world. The spark is linked to the question of who would rule Prussia. The Polish declared it their sovereign right to decide, whereas Brandenburg declared it a rightful inheritance. When Brandenburg outright annexed it, the Bohemian Emperor deemed it necessary to intervene on the side of the Polish (given familial relations). The Protestants of Germany saw this as an excuse to rid the Empire of a Protestant elector, and thus openly declared war. The Catholic league entered the conflict in response, while Livonia backed Poland. The Emperor banked on an early end to the war, but after defeating Brandenburg he dissolves their territories and forces a conversion to Catholicism. This move ends up shocking the Protestants of the Empire, who print the news and spread it far and wide.
-The spread of this news worsens the conflict. The Polish rebels and the Polish state beg for Swedish intervention, but the mobilization of Sweden throws the Danish into a panic. In 1621, the English send several dragons and their navy to support the Danish, who wait for the Swedish to begin crossing to Germany before attacking, rumours of the Swedish king being convinced to attack Denmark having spread from Poland. The initial naval battle involves widespread use of dragons in a major combat role, where they claw at the Swedish ships and set them ablaze. Pepper guns are also used by both sides to incapacitate each other’s dragons. The lack of experience with these guns ends up causing one dragon to be driven insane and fall onto one ship where it violently thrashes about and ends up causing it to capsize, killing the entire crew in the process. The Danish (with heavy English support) then invade Sweden itself, marching across the countryside and looting it at their pleasure. They arrive in Stockholm, where after a brutal siege they eventually sack the city in 1622 and attempt to force the Swedish king to leave the throne. Rumours of a new Kalmar Union spread and the Swedish refuse to give up, bankrupting themselves to hire mercenaries.
-As the Bohemians steadily lose control of the Empire, the Protestant faction makes several impressive gains as the Livonians try to support the Swedish in their war, diverting manpower from the Polish civil war. The Ottomans next enter the war on the side of the Protestants in 1623, hoping to break up the Bohemians and claim control of various wealthy territories. They ally with France, who is encouraged to intervene after two separate incidents. Firstly, the Aztec invades New Spain in 1625, who asks France to declare war on Spain to help them regain their territories. Secondly, they enter the war against Venice, after having several talks with England and hearing of Venetian attempts to pass off their privateering as being orchestrated by the French. The French make several campaigns, firstly into northern Spain where they seize control of Aragon and Navarre, both of which are already rebellious and hostile to the Spanish crown. Next, they conduct a campaign into Italy, where they strike at a Venice busy with holding off the Ottomans and supporting Bohemia. The Pope and the other Italian states use the conflict as an excuse to restore the balance of power in Italy, declaring war on Venice and Naples (the latter gave support to Venice in the war). The Venetians end up losing this war after the sack of Venice in 1629, and by 1631 the French finally sack Naples and force them to leave the war for good.
-In Germany, the war continues to worsen, especially as the Protestants and Catholics find themselves unable to reach any form of peace. The Bohemian faction (composed primarily of Catholic lords, Poland, Sweden, and Livonia) struggle to protect their own territories and hold off rebellions, while the Brandenburg faction (composed primarily of the Protestant lords, Polish rebels, and Denmark) are unable to strike a final blow. The Russian Tsars eventually invade Eastern Sweden after allying with Denmark and seize back lands lost during the time of troubles, while the French begin to suffer from Huguenot rebellions. After Bohemia loses several core territories to the Ottomans and loses effective control of the Empire, the French quickly switch sides in fear of a Protestant takeover of Europe. They invade the Rhineland in 1635 and attempt to force a breakup of the Protestant league, bringing heavy pressure to bear on the Danish. The Empire eventually forces the Danish out of Hamburg, and shortly afterwards the Danish grip on Sweden begins to weaken. Widespread rebellions break out and with Livonian assistance the Swedish begin to recover control of their country.
-By 1640, the war enters perhaps the worst stage. With the Protestant league on the retreat and loyalties constantly shifting, the brutal attacks made on Catholics when the Polish rebels seemed to be on the verge of winning are repeated. Unpaid armies frequently scour the land for resources, press-ganging men into service and dragons by threatening to kill their handlers. Many important cities are ransacked, and the frequent failure of harvests makes lives miserable for the peasants. Requisitions of food stores by passing armies causes refugees to stream into more prosperous districts, overloading what little supplies are left. The sudden drop in the production of silver in combination with all the decrease in economic activity leads to heavy deflationary pressures, and many European traders take advantage of the depression in China to sell off manufactured silks, porcelains, and other goods at knock-down prices. This forces many out of business, especially in the Empire, leading to bread riots. Parisian bakers are burnt down, while Venetian merchant houses are looted during the French invasion. Political and religious movements spread like viruses, and the churches finally decide that old women and Jews are responsible. Pogroms are commonplace, with many Jews being thrown out of town or being lynched in the streets with accusations of war profiteering. Although both sides can claim to have made gains, they typically tend to be bankrupted, suffer from a ravaged landscape, or worse.
-In the search for supplies of well-made steel for use in tools and weaponry, the Spanish have invested considerable resources into the construction of many blast furnaces (based upon the models of the French Cistercians). After being produced, the iron is treated with charcoal in another furnace to make a high-quality steel. Although difficult work, the use of large water-driven machinery to drive mechanical hammers speeds up the process. The Spanish have also conducted several experiments into practical applications of steam. Most experiments so far have utilized pipes to force water out of a spigot in a fountain, and even then this is largely a failure as the boiler often bursts or is too weak to be of any use. Its high fuel cost makes it unpopular as well, and the lack of knowledge about pressure has hampered their efforts considerably.
-Spending even more money (and driving themselves deeper into debt in the process), the Spanish navy expands once more with more ships, men, and guns than ever before. Many of the older ships are of course sold off to merchants, but depreciation has made them almost worthless. The convoy system, although useful, has proven its limits as shipping moves increasingly towards bulk goods such as sugar or tobacco (the prices of which are in freefall). Total output in the production of precious metals peaks at this time, and begins to decline sharply by the 1630s. The resulting decline in revenue has made the old convoys uneconomical, as pirates now move towards smaller fry and have lost English backing. Foreign merchants have also entered the area, seizing up opportunities as the economics of colonialism move towards the development of exporting bulk agricultural goods and semi-manufactured goods.
-The army, long suffering from a starvation of funding and updated theory and practice, begins to slowly lose the edge it once held a century prior. Many soldiers are armed with old firearms, with little standardization among regiments, commanders, or artillery. As most conflicts are overseas against savages, this leads to a colonial force that is incapable of holding its own in the field against a modern European army. Stagnant wages and poor opportunities causes many to choose the navy over the army, which while good for the navy, has devastated land forces. The lack of experience also means most soldiers are posted as policing forces and do it as a secondary job, leading to them mixing with the local populace. The church frequently blasts the army for the soldiers going to the brothels (set up next to their lodging), while peasants resent the army being used to put down riots. The only portions of the military left with any skill or good equipment tend to be the cavalry units, for these are entirely self-funded by the sons of nobles, and as such, have access to the necessary funds and connections.
-The Spanish government tries to steer around the obstacles and problems mounting up on it by focusing on internal reform demanded at home. A new coinage system is introduced, complete with ridges on the sides to prevent forgery (surprisingly effective), while the tax code is seemingly reformed. However, with the promised tax reform by the monarchy being so unspecific and vague, it becomes mired down in bureaucracy and is soon forgotten, especially as the parliament holds ultimate authority on taxation. Revolts in Portugal and Catalonia lead to the Royal family ceding even more powers away, effectively abolishing all royal laws banning the organization of various groups (such as political and religious ones). The merchants quickly move towards setting up public schools, hospitals, and charitable causes in the hopes of attaining political influence within the towns and cities. An attempted education reform by the crown is blocked by the parliament due to lack of funding and its unfeasibility, although an education movement is underway slowly as many private nobles begin establishing rural schools (often run by widows) in the hopes of gaining political support from landholders who expect a good education for their children.
-The first stirrings of the “Age of Reason” begin to make their unwelcome presence in Iberia, marked by the rapid spread of newspapers, a popular way to distil recent events into an easily digestible format. They are predominantly in the cities, where the target demographic and much of the materials and skills required to print and distribute them are readily available. They not only give the news, but give people an outlook onto external events far away (some fabricated) and new ideas and viewpoints to consider. These papers are most popular in coffeehouses, taverns, and brothels, where groups of men can plot and plan out political demands. Muslims and Jews are common among their numbers in addition to Protestants. When the period comes to a close, the turmoil of the rest of the world begins spilling over here, marked by major internal divisions within society on both religious and ethnic lines. Riots are common, and a pogrom in 1639 ends with a Jewish printer’s being sacked by an angry mob.
-The Empire continues to expand overseas, with the Phillipines and Timor being seized and subject to settlement by both the Spanish and immigrants looking for work (many of them Chinese). Unfortunately, the Japanese deemed it necessary to invade these possessions, but after being seen off by the superior Spanish navy, they sued for peace and paid indemnities. The rest of the new colonial province of Florida is claimed (although the numerous hostile peoples, awful climate, and lack of anything noteworthy to see keeps out many to this day) in addition to large swathes of land in the Rio de Plata, Brazil, and the other territories of the marshlands of the American Southeast. While these territories are major financial assets, the crown still feels the need to secure more lump sums to keep the creditors at bay. This culminates in the territories of Sardinia, Malacca, and Makassar being sold to the Venetian Republic, which is filled with the many merchants and bankers who lent Spain this money in the first place. The decision is forced through the parliament bitterly, and the nobles of Aragon later begin refusing to pay taxes and encouraging boycotts as many of the core territories of Aragon are sold off to foreign usurers.
-Even Spain is unable to stay out of the wars in Europe forever. The Aztec Empire invades New Spain in 1625, and asks the French to join. Given the poor state of the Spanish army and the recent troubles in Aragon, the French oblige and invade both Navarre and Aragon in that year. The battles go extremely poorly for Spain, as their lack of dragons and neglected land forces bode well for the French, who have one of the largest aerial forces in Europe. After being routed in several major conflicts, the French seize control of both Navarre and Aragon, initially treated as liberators, but later becoming disgruntled with requisitions of supplies and the lack of any changes. The Aztec do well in New Spain as well, seizing many territories, although they are unable to assist the French elsewhere. The Spanish colonial army and navy are sufficient enough to not only blockade major French ports, but to outright seize several major colonies, including French Guyana and Paraguay. By 1640, the Spanish are still unable to push the French out, although their position has begun to weaken.
-With the advantages of the new flintlock guns apparent to all, the English take several major steps towards securing their own pieces and manufacturing them on a large scale. This mostly takes the form of the royal arsenal buying several shipments of guns from the Netherlands before taking several to pieces and copying them in detail. Within a decade, the flintlock mechanism is fast replacing the older matchlocks, with many older guns being converted to the new system. The conversion is unfinished by 1640, but by such a point is considerably widespread. Several merchants who travelled to the Netherlands also noted the four-field crop rotation system in use, and after informing their friends in the lower gentry, they began to adopt the system on their own fields at home, with beneficial results. New crops such as potatoes are also becoming increasingly common, being gradually integrated into the system.
-After observing the military reforms in Livonia and Poland, the English implemented their own variant, starting with the creation of the “New Model Army”. Unlike older armies, it is a professional army composed of full-time soldiers liable for service in any part of the country or on overseas conflicts. Officers are banned from holding seats in parliament, and are hired based on merit as opposed to social standing (deeply unpopular with the aristocracy). Finally, all soldiers are paid daily regular wages, are given rations, and wear distinctive red coats. The dragons are also integrated into this strange new system, their handlers not only wearing red coats but are also given dragons to tend for after hatching on account of merit rather than wealth. In turn while this infuriates the aristocracy, the improvement of the aerial forces is remarkable indeed. Lately, the move has been towards breeding them for a tolerance of water and a smaller size, to the point that by the 1630s some of them tolerate swimming.
-Overseas, colonial efforts go excellently (although multiple other European nations are getting involved in overseas expansion by this stage), with two major colonies developing around Ruckersville in Virginia and Boston in New England. Settled primarily by religious dissenters, the impoverished, and adventurous money-makers, they come into conflict with many local tribes. Disease helps to cull their numbers, although several bloody massacres occur in which local tribes kill as many colonists as possible. Unfortunately for the natives, the introduction of alien plants and animals eventually change the land in the colonists favour, forcing them to eventually leave as the English presence becomes stronger. The natives are later supplied with guns by the Venetians, forcing the English to build forts, deploy soldiers and organize colonial militias to fend off these attacks. Although they slow down or even stall colonization in some areas, they are ultimately unsuccessful at preventing European incursion.
-Several major attacks on English possessions are made in these years by privateers flying the French flag. After the English capture some of these ships, they find it strange that the crew would fly French flags considering that there is no state of war between France and England. In addition, their use of Venetian weaponry calls their nationality into question. Further investigation reveals powerful financial interests in the Venetian Republic backing these privateers, and the sloppy attempt at passing off the English as being responsible leads to the French declaring war on Venice in 1623. The English in the meantime step up their anti-piracy campaign, focusing largely on the recent Venetian attacks on shipping. A later ambitious move sees the English seize control of the former Neapolitan colonies in South Africa. Ceded to Venice, the Venetians had a single badly manned fort to protect it, and after a single cannonball lodged in the side, it surrendered to England. South Africa is added to the empire as a result. After Venice suffers from major setbacks in the war, they are forced to de-escalate attacks on English shipping.
-Charles I of England attempts to steer a moderate course between the religious factions in the country. Marrying the Protestant Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, the parliament is tempered by his continued support of Protestantism. However, the church in Scotland is Calvinist and is opposed to Anglicanism in general, while the Irish are Catholic and opposed entirely. Attempts by Charles to reduce Catholic discrimination laws are frequently shot down by the houses of parliament, while several widespread rebellions in Ireland see Protestants and Catholics being murdered in equal measure. He then attempts to court the Scottish parliament in hopes of creating a formal union of both countries. It is unpopular, especially among the common populace at large. In addition, the nobility of Scotland are only willing to join in such a union if they retain virtually all of their privileges and are given additional seats in the English parliament to compensate, something unpopular in England.
-The English continue to explore the world and colonize additional territories, seeking to improve their wealth and to expand their influence. The Maldives are taken over in this period, although competition in the area is steadily rising. The French and Dutch are entering the area, seeking their own trading posts and colonies. Thankfully, the English manage to maintain good relations with both through timely gifts (and bribes) that see a series of implicit agreements made about areas of control. Simply put, they agree to split up the Venetian colonies and trading posts in the area. When the wars in mainland Europe escalate, the French end up allying with Dutch and English privateers and traders to raid Venetian shipping, eventually seizing control of Makassar for France and Seram for the Dutch. From these bases, the English eventually break into Asian markets, buying up vast quantities of Chinese and Indian goods before selling them overseas. Unfortunately, the Chinese enter a period of deflation and overproduction, leading to a massive glut of manufactured goods being sold off back home in Europe for knock-down prices.
-Finally, the English enter the European war on Denmark’s side, sending several dragons and their attached fleet in 1621. They bring a large number of flintlock guns with them and end up sharing the technique of manufacture with them too (the King of Denmark was so grateful he ceded England the entirety of Nova Scotia). In the war itself, the Danish do successfully against the Swedish in the opening moves of the war, eventually entering Sweden itself and ransacking Stockholm. Unfortunately, the Swedish did not give in so easily, and Livonia was forced to bring additional manpower to help oust the Danes. As years went on, the parliament refused to grant additional taxes for the prolongation of the war, on account of the heavy spending, little gain, and worsening domestic situation. This comes to a head when in 1628 the Irish enter open rebellion against the crown, sacking manor houses and lynching the English and Protestants wherever they could be found. The lack of dragons to put down the rebels puts England in a tight spot, and the crowns unpopularity there does little to prevent them from losing control of nearly half of Ireland. Several large loans are made in the hopes of securing enough credit to finance an army to put it down, although it is obvious to all that the crown will be unable to pay off this debt.
-It later turns out these Irishmen had benefactors, but the normally competent spy service is unable to discover who they are. On the mainland, the war goes from bad to worse for Denmark as the French move from supporting the Brandenburg faction to the Bohemian faction (especially due to the Ottomans leaving the war and the threat of Protestant domination becoming more likely). The Danish not only lose Hamburg, but begin to suffer from major losses in Sweden as their tenuous grip on the country weakens. Heavy casualties among the expeditionary force supporting the Danes and the likelihood of conflict with France prevent further moves in the war, and Parliament finds the present conduct of the war as pointless and refuses to grant additional monies when the Irish are in open rebellion. An economic recession is also brought on by a severe glut of manufactured goods from China, with artisans and guilds protesting over the competition, threatening to take their skills elsewhere. The navy suffers heavy damage from the Polish escalation of gunboats, making Baltic control much harder.
-With religious tensions on the rise in Europe, the Danish crown deemed it necessary to invest heavily into their military, particularly their supplementary forces that help to give an edge in warfare where large numbers of infantry cannot. The first is to copy the recent developments in artillery by replication of the leather cannon. A thin copper tube wrapped in leather makes a light artillery piece that provides mobile firepower on the field. Although it heats up and warps easily, it is the first such field artillery in major use. In addition, they copy the dragon harnesses in Germany, making use of the recently developed karabiner. With a safe and quick way of attaching yourself to a dragon and moving around on it, it makes the prospect of having complements of soldiers to take pot-shots at enemies on the backs of these dragons much more appealing.
-These military investments come at a time when war with Sweden and her allies becomes ever more likely as the Polish civil war escalates along with the wars in the Holy Roman Empire. Forming an alliance with Russia, they promise to assist each other in a war with Sweden. Secondly, agreements with the English see them sending several dragons and a portion of the royal navy to assist in such a war, with the Polish rebels being contacted by the Danish crown in the hopes of gaining support against their tyrannical king. The Swedish mobilize after being called into the war by Livonia and Poland, prompting fears of an attack on Denmark. After the Bohemians win a battle against Brandenburg and force dissolution of their territories (granting Prussia to Livonia), the Danish crown fears the worst as the war turns in the favour of the Bohemians and Polish. The Swedish begin crossing the border, taken as the casus belli. The combined Danish-English aerial forces and navies rout the Swedish near Bornholm, while their army invades Sweden itself and marches on Stockholm. The Russians also invade Sweden at the same time to reclaim much of their former territories (and then some). A brutal siege is marked by widespread deployment of pepper guns to prevent Swedish dragons resupplying the city, and ends with a breach in the walls being assaulted. The city is burned to the ground and many of the inhabitants slaughtered, the population collapsing from 40,000 to 900. Attempts to capture the king and as many eggs as possible fail due to high Swedish resistance, and when a Kalmar Union is proclaimed once more it rallies much of the Swedish nobility into rebellion.
-Although difficult to put down, the Danish slowly begin to pacify Sweden, but the timely arrival of a Livonian expeditionary force later on in the war also ends up liberating the southeast of the country and puts pressure on Danish supply lines. This worsens when the French switch sides and declare war on the Protestant league, giving the Catholics and Polish enough breathing room to regain some lost ground. The Empire captures Hamburg from the Danish, and at the same time, the Danish begin to rapidly lose ground to the Livonians and Swedes in occupied Sweden. The collapse of major supply lines and the English parliament unwilling to send additional support makes their position more precarious, especially as the balance of power in the war begins to slip from Brandenburg hands and towards the Bohemians (although few gains have been made, with most of the progress in the war being the recapture of many territories on the Catholics part). The Polish begin to introduce gunboats on a wide scale as the war draws on, eventually making control of the Baltic impossible for the Danish navy.
-The Danish encourage privateers to attack foreign shipping, causing numerous difficulties for the Swedish colony, in addition to an increasing number of traders. When Spain, Venice, the Aztec, and numerous other countries enter the war, the regular patrols in the Americas begin to break down, with the lines between privateers, official navies, and pirates blurring. Denmark cedes Nova Scotia to the English as thanks for assisting them, while establishing increasing control over the Baltic grain trade with the aid of the English navy. With rebel Poles selling grain, it is one of their major money-makers in the war, and keeping control of this is crucial for all parties involved. The formation of a trading company to organise the trade in Danish slaves and luxury goods also happens at this time, with most activities in either West Africa or the West Indies. A smaller but rapidly growing trade in furs is largely unorganized, but just as important to the crown.
-Despite the relative decline of the Kingdom in recent years (culminating in the colonies of South Africa being sold off to Venice, although luckily it was shortly before the English attacked and seized it), there are some tentative signs of improvement. The price revolution is coming to an end, and new developments led to Naples becoming a centre for book printing. Through a series of new laws and investments, the number of printing houses in the country explodes, and within a few decades almost every book imaginable is being printed freely here in the local tongue. The church has become angry with this, demanding the banning of many a great number of books published here. This not only fails, but further cements the reputation of Naples as being a place to print works that nobody else will print. By 1640, the city produces more pornographic and philosophical titles than any other city in the world, with the subscription model also pioneered here. The consequences begin to knock on, as dangerous ideas begin spreading.
-In the aerial force, long considered the most prestigious part of the army, successful breeding and attention have increased the total number to well over 20, although after England seizes the African colonies (shortly after they are sold to Venice), the Neapolitans are obliged to send 7 dragons to aid Venice in their major conflicts. Inadvertently this draws them into a major war in the process, which culminates in the French army marching down to Naples and besieging the city. It is sacked in 1631, and unlike last time the French are successful, enough to the extent they force Naples to pay several large indemnities before leaving. After the invasion, the Kingdom hastily expands the existing arsenals, with the intention of manufacturing new flintlocks and cannon for the army. In addition, they are also producing a special kind of grenade for use by dragon crews. With no way of making them explode on impact, small barbs poke outwards from the bombs in the hopes they hook into the hides of dragons, the flesh or men, or the wood and thatch of buildings. They are mostly effective on large bodies of infantry or fixed positions, due to their severe limitations.
Ruskie – Kingdom of Mutapa
State Religion: Mbira Dza umgqomo
-As European influence increases, the King of Mutapa faces even larger threats to his rule, often in the form of widespread rebellion by old believers and the nobility. To help crush these, the Portuguese traders here are now supplying more modern firearms and weaponry in the form of muskets and serpentine cannon. In addition, new firing mechanisms and the advent of rifling give a slight edge in particular areas (such as firing in wet or windy conditions or in siege warfare) to Mutapa. This is most evident during a siege of the Jesuit mission by an angry mob of peasants, in which early rifles were deployed to great effect against the rabble. Impressed, the King of Mutapa places orders for many more of these “modern” guns, most of which tends to be obsolete equipment sold off by the impoverished Spanish army.
-As the new professional army slowly begins to resemble a modern European army, control of it and the finances necessary to fund it become crucial to control of the state. Uprisings are frequently crushed by this new army (much of which tends to be Christian), but funding it is another matter. Looting is implicitly allowed by the commanders as a means of securing provisions, while the subjugation of other tribes and petty kingdoms becomes crucial to control of trade routes and natural resources. Mutapa continues to expand in a series of bloody wars towards the southeast, before finally reaching the coastline. Unlike elsewhere, this portion of the coast is unclaimed by the Spanish and thus grants the kingdom a certain degree of control over trade. They seize the fishing villages there and begin interacting with Arab and Portuguese traders.
-In the towns and great estates which makeup the heartland of the Kingdom, the majority of the population has decisively swung over to Christianity. Even members of the royal family are practicing Catholics, and the pressure on the King to convert is now stronger than ever. The nobility threaten to shut down the government and rebel, while the Jesuits seem to be encouraging this rebellious tendency in order to convert even more people. As the 1630s draw to a close, riots are common in which both pagans and Christians attack one another, with many temples and churches being razed in the conflicts. The Jesuits then make their final move, and demand the King convert to Catholicism, threatening to withhold the import of firearms.
-With support from France, the Mexicans succeed in expanding and improving their navy. The French are keen to cultivate allies here, and one with a navy able to take on the Spanish is a useful one indeed. Many books and navigational instruments are imported or manufactured in Mexico, while the various academies and schools now common in the country train professionals in their use. Compasses are one invention that becomes popular outside of naval use, while the first detailed scientific maps of Mexico have begun to appear. Rifling techniques have also been introduced, the main advantage of these guns being their superb accuracy in comparison to smoothbores. Their major disadvantage however is their unreliability under stress, as they tend to be clogged up easily and take a long while to reload. Their main use is in siege warfare or in experimental uses. -With French military instructors, the Aztec army reforms once again, with a heavy focus on hit and run attacks that make use of the terrain. The main impediment to this unfortunately is the heavy weight and bulkiness of their muskets, so a small number of special “skirmisher” units are created. Armed with new rifles and flintlocks, their guns have been reduced in size and weight to the point they are easy to carry around, but fragile and worthless in melee. In close combat, these men resort to use of a small axe or sword, and even then they cannot hold for long. The small numbers of dragons in use are also bred with French knowledge, focusing mainly on their ability to spit venom that causes great pain. Selective breeding leads to this venom becoming slightly stronger, with the ability to burn and blister skin, even after soaking through clothing.
-The economic theory of mercantilism becomes popular in Mexico, after its promotion by several French people who work in the country. These ideas filter up towards the nobility and gentry, who pass a series of laws through parliament. The first law begins a process of smoothing out internal trade duties while increasing tariffs on the import of goods that can be easily manufactured at home (such as rum and refined sugar). Land reforms are also undertaken to encourage aristocrats to invest into their lands, mainly through putting high tariffs on the export of raw materials. There is a corresponding move towards the construction of lumber mills, granaries, warehouses, mines, refineries, and other industrial buildings, most of them being built on the large agricultural estates of the nobles. New pricing laws also attempt to balance the export and import of various goods, in the hopes of ensuring stable prices. Most of these focus around ensuring that the price of maize stays low in addition to other goods needed by the poor.
-Despite the price revolution slowly cooling down, the Mexican peasantry are still in deep poverty and suffer from malnourishment and lack of opportunity. One way in which this is alleviated is the introduction of new crops from Peru, such as potato and rye. Together, these hardy crops can grow in poor soils and provide a baseline of nutrition for even those with poor land or small quantities of it. After being popularized throughout the early part of the 17th century, they start to become increasingly important in the diet in addition to the traditional crops. The last great natural famine breaks out in 1636, and is soon resolved by a temporary reduction in price controls and the speedy movement of cartloads of potatoes to the afflicted areas. With this one problem sorted, the peasantry begin to work on small crafts in their spare time and selling them to their landlord or the local market, putting them on the first rung of the economic ladder.
-Overseas, the increasingly confident parliament sends ambassadors to Europe on permanent postings, hopefully trying to negotiate favourable markets for their goods. Most of the German princes, France, and several other merchants are keen to begin trading, with the focus on imports of refined sugar, tobacco, cocoa, and rum. A chartered company is established to help oversee this trade on behalf of the nation, although its secondary purpose is also to explore and map the western coast of the Americas. After several decades of tentative entrances, building trading posts, and shipping Jesuits to these areas, they establish several permanent colonies and lay claim to the entire Gulf of California. Relations with the locals are amiable, improved by the French method of establishing relations.
-With French support, the parliament deems it necessary to declare war on New Spain, having seen their military become increasingly obsolete and wishing to seize the wealthy territories that were once ruled by their ancestors (although they would hardly recognize their French-speaking Catholic descendants). The skirmish would unfortunately tie into the greater wars afflicting Europe, and end up bring instrumental in escalating the conflict far beyond that which the participants could imagine. After several forces march on the Spanish forts, they quickly subdue them with French artillery and especially dragon support (the Spanish have historically invested little into dragons or methods of combating them). The dragons end up showering many of the defenders with burning venom. Bringing riflemen on their backs or dropping them on top of various towers, they quickly secure control of the forts. After several weeks of this, the colonial army organizes at Chetumal in order to meet the Aztec army in the field. In range of their naval fleet, the Spanish successfully hold off the Mexicans until four dragons arrive along with the French colonial army. They raid the docks and starve out the city, after which Spanish control of New Spain effectively collapses. The rest of the colonial army is forced to put down or control rebellions in the rest of the colonies, allowing the Aztec to effectively annex the entire Yucatan peninsula.
-Like many other countries, Venice deems investment into the military a necessity for the survival and strengthening of the state. The first move comes in the form of manufacturing flintlocks and deploying them throughout their armies, until eventually by the mid-17th century they have effectively replaced all of the older firearms. With a more reliable firing mechanism that is also cheap to maintain and replace, the advantages are obvious. In addition, naval reforms see existing galleons undergo major changes. This begins with many of the older ones being brought into shipwrights, and in order to make them easier to handle, the order is to have the fore and aft castles removed to make way for more guns. Later on, they begin to purposely build ships without these structures at all, so that within 30 years they have developed a new ship design that places a heavy demand on increasing both firepower and manoeuvrability.
-Rising English competition in the Indies leads the Venetians to begin the practice of hiring privateers in the hopes of engaging them through a proxy war while they focus on more important activities. Most of this involves the brutal subjugation of Ceylon. The island, long rebellious and unwilling to accept Venetian rule, is bombarded by their navy and has thousands of soldiers arrive to finally pacify it. After a bloody campaign, the ringleaders of the uprising and various local rulers who refused to submit to Venetian rule are hung, drawn, and quartered, with their bodies displayed in public as a grim reminder of their rule. Unrest dies down after a decade, although it becomes obvious that company rule is unpopular. Similar campaigns are undertaken in Java, Borneo, and Bali, where violent methods are used to secure control. Subsidized heavily by the Republic and given full support in their conquests, the Auditores often take much of the profits for themselves.
-Plantations are established in the East Indies for the growing of coffee and spices, while plantations for sugar, tobacco, and cotton are established in new colonies in the West Indies. The Republic successfully purchases Sardinia and the East Indies colonies from Spain, and South Africa from Naples (although the English seize control of it shortly afterwards). When rebellions flare up here, they are put down with the same heavy hand as in Ceylon, making them even more unpopular than the former Spanish administration. Police forces and colonial armies are established, tasked with the job of patrolling major roads, ports, and other business enterprises, while working with the local Jesuits who root out rebels. One cunning method employed is to use confession booths to capture subversive elements and imprison them, although this tends to weaken support for the church. Fortresses and watchtowers are built or expanded too, to protect against both the English and the natives.
The Feochiona Company successfully expands into Guyana, and helps to fund native attacks against the English (usually by supplying them with guns). They are also the one largely responsible for funding privateer attacks, which backfires when English spies discover the true origin of these vessels. Venice blames the French and tries to pass it off as being orchestrated by France, but overwhelming evidence supports the English case, leading to the French declaring war in 1623. Although the privateering dispute is cited as the casus belli, the real cause lies in the gradual expansion of Venice and her overseas power, which by the 17th century was threatening the balance of power in Italy and could potentially result in Venetian hegemony. The French are involved in numerous other campaigns as well, but they eventually turn their attention to Venice and push onwards. The Ottoman entry into the war also sees the loss of many territories gained in the prior century to the Turks, and being squeezed between both the French and Ottomans causes the war to go from bad to worse.
-Becoming increasingly desperate for recruits, the Venetian state employs the novel solution of printing propaganda sheets, promising high wages, good rations, lodging, and numerous other perks to military service, many of them strategically placed in the poorer districts. A major glut in production causes many artisans to go out of business (caused by the Chinese selling off most of their goods for low prices and the end of the price revolution), and many join the army out of despair. The French do not slow in their campaigning however, and after several major sieges throughout the Duchy of Milan they arrive at Venice, which they eventually begin to push into and subdue. After many weeks of fighting through the individual islands of the city, the Republic sues for peace in 1629. The French take the liberty of ransacking the city however and occupying many of their possessions in Italy, before sending the army down to Naples which they sack in 1631 and follow up by knocking them out of the war. The Venetians remain nominally out of the war for the next decade, although frequent actions are seen in the colonies between them and colonial opponents (primarily the English). The loss of major territories to both France and the Ottomans in addition to being forced to pay indemnities to the French worsens the situation, and by 1640 they have defaulted several times. It has also become troublesome for the French, whose occupation of Northern Italy is unpopular among its inhabitants and tenuous at best.
-Agriculture is once again a major focus of the struggling Ming dynasty, which has found itself battered by famines and widespread hunger. Seeing the basis of the dynasty under threat (especially as now the mercantile classes become the de facto opposition), there are several major reforms hurriedly carried out by the emperor and his dragons. This starts with an academy devoted exclusively to the development of new rice strains and their propagation in addition to agricultural equipment (such as water powered ploughs). Although it takes a while for their work to bear fruit, it unfortunately is only really effective in the south and coastal regions due to the poor state of transport and the applicability of rice agriculture. The Emperor has also ordered a refinement to guns after discovering they are too heavy. At the cost of accuracy, the barrels are shortened in order to make them easier to use, mainly for use by dragon riders and cavalry.
-The Emperor also tries to revive use of the grain storehouses for use in time of famine, although by this point most merchants are in the habit of buying it up and distributing it themselves, inadvertently undermining the government. These men, being private individuals with little to no ties with the state, have recently risen as the civil service becomes hostile towards men with ambition. They have made much of their wealth from the recent opening up of trade and from the growing cottage industries and now have enough monies to buy up land and treat them as commercial investments. In another attempt to prevent flooding, the Emperor orders the planting of trees alongside rivers to prevent erosion and the rebuilding of irrigation systems. This has mixed success, as widespread wood shortages often force the peasantry to cut these down for fuel or to build with.
-To build up reputation among the peasantry, dragons are often taken into service to deliver vital supplies of grain and food during times of disaster (such as after earthquakes or famine), although many are annoyed with being used for this purpose. While popular in the less populated areas, these famines become increasingly less common in the south and east where developed markets and high output allocate sufficient quantities of rice (potatoes and other new crops do the same in the north and west). Unfortunately, the merchants tend to be the ones profiting from this, and with their monies they have started to bribe lowly government officials in order to overcome trade barriers. To control illegal trading, the port of Macau is opened up as the sole official port with the west, where all exchanges are thoroughly documented in order to prevent the movement of goods that may harm the people.
-Unfortunately, the decline in silver exports from Peru has knock on effects in China. The sudden decline leads to a weakening of inflation. Prices begin to drop even more as industrial output rises and the state loses control over manufacturing and agriculture. Low prices for food and manufactured goods also lead to people hoarding silver and attempting to do transactions in copper, quickly forcing silver out of regular circulation. The powerful merchants undermine the Emperor by donating to charitable causes and giving out food supplies to the peasants and gentry in order to secure their support (although rioting in some areas is sparked by allegations of the merchants holding back grain stores to raise price). European merchants take advantage by buying up vast quantities of silk and porcelain for sale back home, while selling tobacco and sugar instead of silver. The dynasty, although strong, has ended up channelling most opposition to the regime into a single class, and while the merchants desire a strong state to protect them, they do not care much for the Emperor.
-Livonia, being at the forefront of military technology and theory, quickly adopts the flintlock firing mechanism that is rapidly becoming popular throughout Europe. A safer and more reliable way of igniting the powder, it also helps to make the manufacture of smaller firearms much cheaper. Simply put, one does not need a burning match cord or a large clockwork mechanism anymore. This reduction in size is concurrent with a shrinking of the guns wooden stock and some incremental moves at shrinking both the width of the barrel and the thickness of the barrel wall. This all come together with another much more interesting development for firearms. The disadvantages of a plug bayonet are all too obvious, and the first attempt at bypassing this is the invention of the ring bayonet. A large metal ring is attached to the end of the barrel along with a knife, and while one can shoot while having it on the end, the main disadvantage is the flimsiness of the knife and the ease at which you can cut yourself while trying to reload in the heat of battle. Nonetheless, it is instantly and widely adopted.
-With the bayonet now in place, military doctrine effectively forgoes the use of pikemen entirely, focusing on the use of musket-bearing infantry and grenadiers (based on the Polish model) to carry the battle. Musketeers are ordered to fire volleys of gunfire while grenadiers soften up enemy lines with use of grenades (although this is unreliable). After the volleys are fired, it is followed with a bayonet charge, which typically forces an enemy combatant to retreat or charge themselves. Due to bayonets turning musketeers into pikemen, this also restricts the role of cavalry, making head-on charges near suicidal (something that the Polish rebels learned too late). Artillery sees incremental improvements at the same time, with several different pieces manufactured; often experimenting to see how thin the barrel can be made before it bursts. Although risky, the edge is helpful in a battle where combined arms and the deployment of firepower and overwhelming force are vital to success.
-After the Polish king calls for help from Livonia, he promises them both Lithuania and Prussia, provided he can help put down the rebels in the country. Not only does King Friedrich Kettler agree, but he is aching for any excuse to have a war. Kettler is a military fanatic himself, to the point where he designed his soldier’s uniforms and watched them march around his courtyard too. His fascination extends to a deep understanding of military strategy and tactics, as he has read all of the classics from the works of Caesar to more recent books such as those by Machiavelli. He invades Lithuania with the aid of his aerial forces and several gunboats copied from Polish designs. After several stunning victories, he begins pardoning large numbers of former rebels and promising powers within the new Kingdom. The impressed nobility are largely won over by this move, and by the time he arrives at Konigsberg the city surrenders to him without firing a shot. He enters in triumph, and abolishes several old feudal laws and treaties that once suppressed the merchants of the cities of Lithuania and Prussia. In addition, he grants printers great leniency and promotes the use of vernacular languages, making him a widely popular figure.
-With Livonia growing and recovering, Kettler sends forces to help subdue the Polish rebels and assist in the general wars of the Empire, while also organizing a force personally to Sweden to oust the Danes. He still has a great deal of time spare for many other activities, where he calls for meetings of the estates in order to decide the best way to fix the poverty afflicting the nation at large (most of the attendants support mercantile policies). In addition, he grants the Lithuanians several autonomous powers, devolves the national church, orders official translations of the bible into the varied Baltic languages, supports the establishment of the newspapers, grants freedoms to the printers, and promotes widespread use of the potato as a way of alleviating hunger. Although slow to catch on and treated as something of last reserve, public tours of the country showing ways to prepare the potato help to spread their use. The first attempts at a temperature scale and a method of measuring it too are also made, although it is considerably inaccurate and crude. When attempting to establish body temperature, they get it off by such a wide margin that it is near useless for practical use.
-Finally overseas, Kettler promotes an ambitious foreign policy where he attempts to ruin the Danish. After building a massive number of gunboats and helping the Polish to remove many rebel strongholds, he puts pressure on the Danish navy, eventually using his force of dragons to keep the Danes occupied while he ferried over the army to meet up with a hastily raised rebellion in Sweden. The ploy works perfectly, and within weeks much of the southeast of Sweden is brought back under Swedish control while the Livonian army wins a number of major battles. Unfortunately for Denmark, their string of victories threatens to cut off their supply lines, made worse by the Polish deployment of a massive number of gunboats to harass the Danish navy. The English navy and aerial forces are already finding it difficult to remain in the war, and one more major victory could see Danish-occupied Stockholm not only left vulnerable, but could potentially knock them out of the war for good.
-The Persian state has frequently found itself facing budget shortfalls from time to time, and recently the decline of silver mining in the new world has led to reduced inflation, something which has made the old tactic of waiting for loans to inflate before repaying them unfeasible. In response, the first national bank of Persia is established, empowered to borrow money at considerably low interest rates. Given that states tend to be long-lasting, many merchants and lords are incentivized to buy loans from this new bank in spite of the low interest rates. The Persian government meanwhile now has a ready supply of credit. To make this all easier, they also introduce the Chinese practice of paper banking notes. Safer and easier than moving large piles of gold and silver around, they also begin to be used in lieu of physical money later on in the period, their value backed by gold and silver reserves in the various banks of the country.
-The Persian army begins a tradition of sharpshooting contests at this time, whereby soldiers are made to shoot at a cloth target a hundred metres away. The top shooters are given prizes and are later taken away for specialist training. Unfortunately, the technology behind smoothbore muskets makes this almost pointless, and many of those selected won out of sheer luck. Intended to be used against dragons, these men are little better than a volley by conscripts. Instead, many of these men are given flared grenade-launching muskets instead, which require a steady hand and good training to use. Used to support the main body of infantry, these grenadiers will fire grenades among the enemy in the hopes of breaking up their formation. Unfortunately, these weapons tend to be unreliable and unpopular, and grenadiers are usually lumped into separate supporting units to prevent disrupting their formation. The stronger ones tend to prefer throwing the grenades with use of a sling or their arms.
-In an attempt to improve the quality of soldiers (and find them something to do during peacetime), they are given regular exercise, mostly involving marches and covering rough terrain. Those who are found to perform poorly are discharged, although those who cannot perform due to an injury suffered in war are given a state pension to cover for their losses. The rest are meanwhile taken out of the force, and the higher standards demanded of soldiers also significantly reduces the available manpower pool. One of the few peacetime duties the army has been sent to work on is the construction of new major paved roads, along which barrack-houses have been established. Courier posts are also usually alongside them to move messages quickly for the Shah, while a national postal service is also set up to take advantage. For a fee, one can use this network of couriers, which tends to be usually self-financing. They even begin to deliver newspapers to the rich.
-Continuing to promote Persia as a land of civilization, the Shah spends a great deal of money on the construction and refurbishment of libraries. Most are expected to have copies of all the major books, which mean that a lot of originals have to be bought or borrowed for copying before their distribution throughout the country. Although new works find it difficult (especially political ones) to spread, there is also a booming industry in the underground press, aided no doubt by the regimes attempts to promote classical literature. There is also significant interest in antiquaries, with many relics from the past (often from pre-Islamic Persia) becoming sought after by both the state and private individuals. Libraries are first used to store these objects, before museums and homes are opened up to the public to showcase the items. Many aristocrats have found it fashionable to travel around the country and to write down old tales before publishing them in the cities. The old styles of dress, jewellery, and poetry become increasingly common with the revival of Persian culture. Of course this leads to many tensions in Persian society, especially as the rise of nascent nationalism is fuelled by the Shahs good intentions.
-The government slowly develops distinct branches of government, usually based around separate ministers and the outgrowth of their roles requiring offices and armies of staff. One of the most recently created is tasked with redrawing the borders of the country to take different ethnic groups into account (especially in recent territorial acquisitions in the west). Azerbaijanis, Kurds, and Syrians are some of the groups granted greater autonomy from the central government, most of them being allowed to manage their own affairs in return for providing tax revenue. Of course, the spread of printing and the revival of classical history affect these areas too, and quite quickly they begin to secretly circulate folk tales and poetry in the vernacular. The Arabic tongue is starting to clearly suffer, and with it, the administration of the Empire. To try and gain the support of the peasantry, the Shah sets up a commission that receives petitions, in the hopes of resolving some individual cases. Unfortunately, they also end up helping to stimulate increasing levels of literacy and demands placed on the government as now a precedent has been set.
-Attempts to pursue integration with the neighbouring states of the Arab peninsula fall through, mainly on account of cultural and religious differences. The idea of a Shia ruler is shocking enough, but the revival of Persian culture and decline of the Arabs in the Empire has not helped matters. They begin to increasingly block Persian influence in their affairs, and begin drifting towards the Ottoman Empire. While the Ottomans are belligerent, they are too tied down in affairs elsewhere to conduct a major war with Persia. Persia meanwhile has no interest in wars either, and instead attempts to establish a European style colony in the Indies. This falls through, but not all is lost, for some ships do manage to sail to China. There, they meet Chinese officials who direct them to the port of Canton, where trade between Persia and China is finally opened. Unfortunately for Persia, the result is a sudden flood of manufactured goods caused by a glut in China. The response by many merchants (after the impoverishment of many artisans and bread riots in the capital) is to buy them up and sell it on to Venice.
-The Polish, in lieu of an organized navy, instead develop gunboats. Small boats that resemble oversized rowing boats or river barges (indeed they are initially developed from them), they possess one or two cannon in the vessel, typically in the bow. Their two main advantages lie in both their cheapness (one can manufacture a great number of them in a short time), plus the use of a single gun in the bow means very heavy guns can be used. Guns that fire shot of up to 64lbs are common, and if enough of these boats are deployed they can hurt considerably. In addition, the Polish have also adopted flintlocks for their guns, a new innovation which they imported from Germany and within a few decades have ensured it has become commonplace. With the civil war escalating and becoming intertwined with the wider general European conflict, the Polish state is heavily investing into both.
-The civil war opens with a major battle on the Vistula River, which unfortunately the Livonians and Bohemians are unable to reach in time to give support. The battle takes place in an anti-monarchical area too, and many lords and peasants are uncooperative. The lack of support at large results in the Royal army being forced to pull back after an inconclusive skirmish. The result is that both sides are given time to recuperate and build up their forces, meaning that a quick end to the conflict becomes practically impossible. The good news early on is that the Bohemians manage to subdue Brandenburg, but when they dissolve their holdings, the prince-electors of the Empire rebel, cutting the number of men that can be spared to aid the Polish. The Livonians manage to finally enter the war too, and propose a whole series of military and political reforms in the hopes of restoring the power of the Polish crown, in return for Lithuania and Prussia.
-With the Anglo-Danish forces in control of the Baltic, the Swedes crushed, the Bohemians tied down, Ottomans discreetly annexing the southern parts of the Commonwealth, and Russia supporting rebels, the situation looks dire as the Poles effectively shrink back into an area of control the size of the Medieval Polish state. They begin to work on reversing this through firstly borrowing vast quantities of money and funding the construction of major number of river gunboats. Although weak, they are easily replaceable and powerful in numbers, and slowly they firstly gain control of the Vistula, followed in turn by the Dnieper and the Dniester. Tolls are set up to profit from vital trade, but the Danish blockade, strains of war, and heavy taxation leads to a widespread decline in economic activity. Nonetheless, requisitions fuel the Polish army, and slowly they begin to starve out rebel-held areas.
-The Sejm re-establishes itself in Smolensk, where they increasingly fall under Russian influence as they become dependent on them for material and logistical support, especially as the theatre of the war shifts eastwards. The Polish army undergoes several major reforms with Livonian help, copying their use of plug bayonets, light artillery, standardization, a professional officer corps, and uniforms. They march on Silesia firstly, sieging castles and other fortifications. After capture, the castles are slighted to prevent reuse, while the estates of rebels are dissolved and sold off at knock down prices. What cannot be sold is often given away to the peasantry, and many are encouraged to raid the houses of their former masters. The nobles that support the crown are the biggest winners, with many families increasing the size of their estates and rocketing up the social ladder. When the Bohemians send support into Silesia, they eventually crush the last resistance there by 1632, giving the Polish complete control of the western portion of the Commonwealth.
-The next eight years are spent on slowly pushing eastwards with great success. Although Bohemia is forced to leave in order to focus on the war in Germany, and Livonia attends to Lithuania and Sweden, the Polish state begins to recover. Bumper harvests are recorded, and control of the waterways gives them a vital bargaining tool. The gunboats are gradually deployed to the coastlines, where they challenge the blockade and raise the coast of the war high enough that the English find it increasingly harder to remain supporting their Danish allies. The Catholic league makes another breakthrough when the French join on their side, allowing them to divert forces to Hamburg where after its capture the Danish begin to lose control of the Baltic. The breathing space allows Livonia to ferry even more supplies along the coasts and deploy more men, resulting in the rapid collapse of the rebel position.
-As the Commonwealth recovers, it gradually morphs into an autocracy. Bureaucratic reforms see the state slowly grow in power, and the loyalist nobility becomes increasingly dependent on the centre. Propaganda is spread by Catholic priests and town criers, who say that without a strong united Poland, there will be no protection from foreign hordes. This message is made much stronger when foreign intervention in the conflict escalates, and the cession of Prussia and Lithuania also leading to the loss of many of the non-Slavic ethnic groups. The Polish king promises his subjects increased rights to leave the land (although this would be disastrous for their near-monopoly of grain), but the stability or political support needed for such reforms have yet to materialize. He increasingly also positions himself as a ruler of a united single people. The church also tends to promote him as a near-divine ruler, while increasingly his proclamations threaten the Russian Tsars claims.
-By 1640, the tide shifts decisively in the favour of the Polish crown. As the new Royal Army marches east (supported by dragons and gunboats), they raze the estates of nobles and force many into hiding. Aerial patrols often capture some groups of soldiers, and soon civil order begins to collapse in rebel-held areas. Smolensk is besieged, and the Sejm makes a desperate attempt to call for help from the Tsar to enter the war, lest their efforts go to waste. It is yet to be seen what will happen, but many members of the Sejm are already trying to flee the city, while dragons fight each other in the skies, either to supply the city or attack it. In the west of the commonwealth, recovery is quickly underway, aided by the introduction of new world crops, such as the potato. Tobacco smoking and coffee drinking become popular activities too, while sugar imports increase (smugglers have to be careful around the Danish fleet). In fact, the Poland of 1640 is in a much stronger shape and position than in 1610, despite extensive material, human, and territorial losses, although this is hardly true for many other countries.
-The Bohemians create perhaps the pinnacle in dragon harness technology, in which all previous innovations and developments come together to create dragon armour. A throwback to medieval armour, it consists of interlocking plates and chainmail to protect the beast from clawing or bullets with less momentum. Although these sets of armour are costly and heavy, used correctly they turn the dragons capable of wearing them into nigh-invulnerable monsters, limited only by the presence of other dragons or the presence of enough enemy guns. The first appearance of field artillery potentially spurred this development, as now artillery pieces light enough to be moved around the battlefield and deployed rapidly are being introduced. Although these pieces are just copper tubes wrapped in leather, and although they heat up quickly, warp, and tend to be weak, their mobility shows a clear way forwards for the use of artillery in battle.
-With Poland busy with a civil war and Brandenburg declaring itself a kingdom, the Emperor deems it necessary to stamp out this threat before it escalates. Sending an army to Brandenburg with the help of the Catholic League and Livonia, they defeat Brandenburg in a protracted campaign that ends with the occupation of their core territories. Unsure of how to proceed, the Emperor begins the process of dissolving the Kingdom and ceding their lands to neighbouring princes. The Protestants fear the worst when the Emperor then demands they convert to Catholicism, which ends up becoming the straw that broke the camel’s back. Angered, the Protestants raise their own army and declare war on Bohemia, pledging support to the Brandenburg faction.
-The Bohemians quickly lose the upper hand when the Swedish, in an attempt to enter the war, end up dragging the Danish and English into the wider conflict. Severe blockades on Catholic ports put Poland under considerable strain as it tries to subdue their rebels. During the attempt to help drive the rebels from Silesia, the Ottomans and French end up entering the conflict on the side of the Protestants, both hoping to gain major territorial concessions. Sparked by a separate conflict with Venice, the Ottomans later invade Hungary and drive out the Bohemians. The French invade both Italy and Spain, knocking both out of the conflict and occupying vast tracts of land in both countries. While the Ottomans are able to withdraw after successfully making most of their initial demands, the French hold becomes tenuous, especially as the Protestants begin to gain the upper hand in the war.
-As the Bohemians are pushed into increasing desperation, the Livonians come to aid them at their time of need by sending several military reformers in the hopes of reinvigorating and strengthening the army in the same way that the Polish and Livonian armies were reformed. Although Livonia is too busy in both Poland and Sweden, the Bohemians make use of the reformers to update drill, technique, and equipment, producing a professional modern army composed largely of regular wage-paid soldiers that work together in drilled formations of near machine-like precision and regularity. Aerial riders are given similar training, with a heavy focus on getting dragons and their crews to work together as both units and in formations. With this new army, they begin to turn the tide, made easier by the French switching sides. France invades the Rhineland on the pretext of liberating Catholics who live there (although annexation is also nice). The sudden release of pressure in combination with the establishment of the new army leads to a string of major victories in Germany, while many of the Polish rebels are finally crushed. Hamburg is besieged and later occupied by the forces of the Emperor, while the Protestant league begins to lose most of their gains. The capture of Hamburg is a major boon to the Polish, and eventually the war worsens for the Danes.
-Despite the widespread destruction, looting, pilfering of storage warehouses, famine, failed harvests, and other economic calamites ranging from deflation to bankruptcy and low wages, the Bohemians manage to set the groundwork for several major reforms in their society that would fundamentally change the way in which not only it operated, but Europe as well. Faced with a pressing need to supply guns and other material to the armies, the old guild system quickly falls apart in favour of the putting-out system. In this, agents are hired to contract work out to individual artisans and workshops, where the work is typically carried out. The advantage of this system is both its flexibility and the wide net of information gathered. Simply put, merchants not only pick up merchandise, but can sell it too. Within several decades, the system spreads beyond its initial use for firearms to cover the manufacture of many goods produced by rural labourers and farmers without agrarian work spare to do. It is also the first time that women have separate sources of income, something that will bring wider economic, social, and political consequences down the line as the independence this entails is eventually taken to its logical conclusion.
-In addition to the putting-out system, a series of poor laws are adopted to counter the high rates of widespread unemployment that plague Europe, but Bohemia in particular. Each village or town is responsible for the establishment of a rate that when collected pays towards “workhouses”. Consisting of an old church, converted warehouse, or charitable individuals lodging, those incapable of working are given residence in addition to food, clothing, and fuel. The able-bodied poor are meanwhile given jobs in the putting-out system, although at very low wages under their village. Typically given similar lodging, they are also often targets for military recruiters or nobles and merchants seeking labour for a nearby project (such as a new road or building). Communities are granted wide-ranging powers to do this, and it offers a secular alternative to the charity of the church. Although the Catholic authorities complain, they temper much of their criticism due to the war ongoing. While the war seems to be slowly turning in the favour of the Bohemians by 1640, it becomes evidently clear that many occupied territories are rebellious, while participants on both sides are running out of men, money, and authority.
-Although the Tokugawa lost absolute control of Japan in 1600 (the opposition resides in the south and west), they are still one of the pre-eminent military powers around, and are increasingly adopting more European technologies in the hopes of retaining a vital edge. This begins with the import of flintlock guns. Although few in number and widespread manufacture have yet to take off, they offer innumerable advantages over the matchlock, mostly in reliability and ruggedness. They also begin to copy Spanish military doctrine, (which unfortunately is already outdated by decades). They adopt the tercio formation for infantry, deploying pike squares on a large scale for the first time (previously only the Oda clan experimented with this). In addition to these new guns and military reforms, Jesuit medical textbooks (having been translated in Ryuku and brought to the mainland) are also making an appearance. Containing a great deal of knowledge on European medicine, they are integrated with the existing Japanese canon.
-The Shogun, in a questionable decision, declares war on Spain by claiming the islands of Formosa and Luzon, before bringing together a large naval force and sailing firstly to Formosa. Upon arrival, the well-trained and superior Spanish navy blows the Japanese fleet away, before following them back home and blockading trade until the Japanese government is embarrassed into paying indemnities and suing for peace. The Christians and Ikko Ikki rise up in rebellion throughout Japan in response to the incompetent government, forcing them to pass a series of laws of religious toleration granting Christians and missionaries additional rights. The burakumin system is also effectively abolished as part of these reasons, causing a great deal of anger among conservative factions in government and throughout the country.
-As the civil war drags on, the shogun commits the ultimate insanity of deposing the Emperor and declaring himself Emperor in his stead as head of a new royal house. The uproar created by the disregard of centuries of tradition causes civil order to immediately collapse, with widespread peasant and samurai rebellions marching on Edo to overthrow the false emperor (the real one is in Kyoto). They are slaughtered by the army, although major defections and desertions are now spreading rapidly. Tax collectors are frequently seized by mobs and beaten to death, while offices are sacked and burned down. The ruling nobility begin to develop an effective opposition, building themselves around the authority of the true emperor. The military advisor Hayashi Rikuto then promises he can turn himself into a dragon and rouse all of the dragons in Japan to crush the rebels. He does this by taking a secret potion, before he convulses and believes himself to be turning into a dragon and begins to masturbate furiously before dying. A Jesuit later attempts to assassinate the Shogun but is caught and executed.
Notes: From this turn onwards, Deng is the GM.
Turn 6: 1640 to 1670Post link: http://facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1427292&p=46509665&viewfull=1#post46509665
Turn quote: Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe; they are in that conditions called War; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man; And the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. – Thomas Hobbes
Events of the years 1640 to 1670:
-During this period, flintlocks become common throughout all armies in Europe and several others abroad. This stage in firearms evolution marks a diminishing size and weight to the guns as well, which has already begun in some countries. The evolution is concurrent with the development of bayonets and the decline of pikemen in addition, to the point that by 1670 many European armies are now increasingly phasing out the use of pikes in favour of musket-armed infantry. Field artillery have begun to become popular as well, transitioning from early experiments of leather wrapped copper barrels into lightweight cast bronze or iron pieces on small wooden carriages.
-With open areas of debate in England, Denmark and the Netherlands, philosophical inquiry leads to the great question of “How is society to be organized?” A dangerous one indeed, as some men argue that kings are a necessary evil at best, and one to be removed at worst. While they are strongest in their countries of origin (especially England), they have begun to rapidly spread through Europe, aided by the coffeehouse. In some, they are a threat to the crown, although thankfully their poisonous influence has yet to corrupt society. The levellers are the first coherent faction to appear from this, although other men argue that the leviathan formulated by Hobbes is unnecessary too, and that people can live in common, with no concept of property or power over another. They are the diggers, and perhaps most dangerous of all, because they incite common men in rising up against their rightful masters!
-Already somewhat behind their rivals, the Spanish adopt a standard flintlock musket, several decades late. Effectively a direct copy of existing French models, it has several superficial modifications that make it cheaper to manufacture, easier to handle, or a combination of other traits that give it a slightly Spanish feel, even though it is effectively a French gun. The Spanish have also managed to develop a new form of printing press that is perfectly adapted to printing “broadsheets”, which are a recent innovation in media. By printing a daily or weekly sheet of the news, advertisements, and other noteworthy articles of interest, one can appeal to the growing demographic of people who are both literate and wealthy enough to demand information about the wider world. Of course, Spain does not exactly have a big enough demographic to allow for many newspapers to exist, but it’s a start.
-With France occupying large portions of the country, Spain quickly adopts military reform similar to what is currently in use throughout Europe at large. Although costly and time consuming, the Spanish successfully rebuild most of their military capabilities that had been left to decay in the past few centuries. Spain however is foiled constantly by the relative decline of their empire. With Mutapa and England cutting into their trade, the Mexicans and French slowly weakening their colonial empire overseas, the collapse of the silver mines, and the decline of domestic manufacturing as Chinese goods flood the market, the Spanish end up accruing massive debts. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is when a new law in Mutapa formally ruins the last traders in Mozambique, bankrupting many merchants and nobles.
-Struggling to maintain stability and revive the stagnant economy, the Spanish state continues to pour investment into road infrastructure and new fortifications to defend the country from France. Although it relieves unemployment somewhat, many workers on these roads end up dying or building roads to nowhere useful, and the cost of building and maintaining them drains on finances. The decline of population continues, made worse by emigration to the colonies and ruin of the tenanted smallholder in favour of noble and church lands. By 1670, declining tax revenues leads to many buildings and existing administration suffering from neglect, and the localities of the country begin to protest. Portugal is the leading one, where the popular sentiment (fanned by vitriolic newspapers) is increasingly viewing Spanish rule as responsible for their decline. The nobility begin to block the passing of legislation, while merchants move their business elsewhere and start blocking the collection of taxes. Overseas, the colonies continue to grow and diversify their economies (particularly in Argentina and Brazil), although revenue generated from agriculture is much less than from mining. New Zealand is also discovered at this time by a number of explorers, although plans for permanent settlement have not yet been established. Fishermen are one of the few Europeans to appear in this area, and they don’t like to stay for long.
-During the wars with France, the Spanish successfully push the French out of Aragon and Navarre, but at great cost. An additional campaign is planned for Occitania, but when the invasion finally occurs, the Spanish soldier’s mutiny over lack of pay. The Venetian Republic seized several major Italian banks at this time to pay for their own wars before declaring bankruptcy and ruining many bankers, in turn cutting off most sources of credit for Spain. The two dragons sent to aid the army are then killed by superior French aerial forces, and the remaining soldiers are demoralized by the loss, bringing a stop to the Occitanian campaign. Widespread rebellions break out in response, and with both France and Spain exhausted by the war (and Occitania being unwilling to accept Spanish rule) they agree to a separate white peace in which borders are restored to pre-war boundaries (although Texas is now French, while Uruguay is Spanish). The Spanish eventually crush many of these rebellions and restore some order, in addition to rebuilding a line of fortifications along the Pyrenees, the state is still desperately impoverished and struggling to find sources of revenue as the overseas empire no longer provides the money it used to. Domestic troubles are still large in addition, but thankfully the regime still maintains their grip on power.
-England continues to pull away from the economic crisis of the early part of the century, focusing on transitioning to a new system that holds promise for the future. As farming steadily improves, the new Dutch plough is introduced, which not only is lighter and doesn’t use wheels, but is also cheaper to produce. These new ploughs begin to spread slowly, due largely to the lack of people with sufficient capital and land to buy and use them on. These new ploughs also come at the same time that a canal building scheme goes underway. An act of parliament in 1660 empowered the construction of a canal to link the Mersey and Irwell. It is a major success, and at the close of the 1660s, several more canal improvements begin on the Thames and Wey. Wagonways are also becoming slowly more common, although they are cumbersome and limited to bulk goods.
-The English economic revival is aided by the weakening power of the monarchy and the rise of mercantile theory. Seeing the disastrous effect of foreign goods undercutting domestic industry, massive tariffs are levied on manufactured goods through a series of navigation acts, while English merchants and gentry lobby for increased powers to parliament. They succeed, when the King finally agrees to give the royal assent to a “Bill of rights”. A piece of landmark legislation, it reduces the influence of the monarchy on law, strips him of taxation powers, control over the army, and numerous other things. In effect, Parliament begins to increasingly assume the role of the supreme authority of the land, although for now it is in balance with the monarchy. The King also resigns as supreme head of the Church of England, and withdraws from religious affairs for good. He also attempts to rescind anti-Catholic legislation, but is blocked continually by parliament and he only manages to get token measures implemented. The levellers appear at this time, and slowly develop as a faction within parliament, pushing for greater political reform on the basis of equality before law, extended suffrage, and religious tolerance. They identify themselves with the townspeople, and are opposed by the lords, the older gentry, clergy, and anti-Catholics.
-In Ireland, the monarchy has greater freedom to implement its will, and introduces more pragmatic policies towards Catholics. A native bureaucracy begins to develop in Dublin, where it may be possible to occasionally find Catholic lords. Fort construction continues throughout the rest of the country, and eventually the Irish are slowly tamed. The rebellions die down as each insurrection is brutally put down, and the native aristocracy learns to work with the English government in return for toleration of their religious status and rights as landowners.
-Scotland decides on a clever venture at this time (although apparently it may have been encouraged by English special agents). One man promises riches to Scotland and the start of a colonial empire through a scheme intended to control trade near Panama, and as much as one quarter of all wealth in Scotland is pooled for the endeavour. They invest into a colony in Darien, where the first expedition arrives and is immediately ruined by disease and starvation. Several follow-up expeditions follow, but in turn fail, and the English navy refuses to rescue the colonists or aid them. In 1668, the colony is deemed a failure and the resulting shock destroys the confidence of Scottish investors and the Scottish government. Faced with crippling debt, the Scottish government and its lords appeal to Westminster for any way of clearing the debt. Westminster offers political integration, and while unpopular in Scotland, negotiations begin in earnest.
-English colonial efforts go much better than the Scottish one did. Explorers travel to, and discover Australia, remarking on the suitability of the soils for cultivation and the plethora of wildlife. There appear to be a light brown race of people with Caucasian features too, resembling a mixture of a biblical-era society. Settlement does not begin, but funds are already being raised at home for such a task. In addition, the colonies in North America and South Africa continue to expand, although in North America they are constrained increasingly by native polities and other colonial powers, whereas in South Africa they are constrained by the landscape and isolation. Most colonists prefer America, with the population growing from 25,000 in 1640 to 100,000 by 1670. Fortifications are built in the Maldives to protect Indian shipping too, as competition in the area rises. The Spanish ships are plying these waters less too, an evident sign of their retreat. English merchants are also starting to choose between exporting raw cotton to England or to China. Given that demand is rising in both countries, it may be prudent to find a way to speed up travel time or secure valuable supplies of cotton, lest one country swallows the market whole. As Chinese cotton clothing becomes common in Europe, it is becoming obvious where that could go.
-England signs the treaty of Holstein in 1641, which brings an end to the terrible war. In the proceedings, the English cede Nova Scotia to Livonia, while receiving a stretch of Danish Canada in return. Venice cedes Malacca to England too, in addition to handsome financial indemnities. England also joins the Baltic alliance, and when France refuses to withdraw from territories in the Holy Roman Empire they send forces to aid in the struggle with France in 1656. The Dutch ally with England at this time in order to secure wealthy lands in the vicinity of Calais. During the course of the war, the English utilize fast, small, nimble dragons that outmanoeuvre the French aerial forces. And, with their tolerance for water, they are at a massive advantage in naval battles, frequently landing on specially designed frigates and some even being able to swim, and in some cases they capture French ships by landing on-board and swiping at the terrified crew. Attempted moves in Texas fail when the Mexican army and French colonial forces destroy the invading English force, made worse by French expertise with dragons on land, the lack of English experience and the unsuitability of the creatures to the climate there. The naval blockades go more smoothly and cripple French trade. After the successful conclusion of the war, France still retains Texas, although they lose much more at home, most notably Flanders to the Dutch, and much of their trade to England.
-Stepping up to take the mantle of aerial forces in Europe, the Danish begin to focus on using dragons in an offensive shock role, with heavy ones in particular. To protect them from the increasing use of firearms, they adopt the use of plate armour and chainmail for them to wear, with suitably thick leather harnesses to help hold them on and protect them. Offering excellent protection from bullets, it unfortunately also exhausts them and is a severe liability over water or on long flights. Another interesting new invention in war is the development of the field mortar. Unlike other artillery, it uses a low charge to fire a shot in an arc, with it being a typically explosive shell. While horribly inaccurate, it is however highly portable, requires a very small gunnery crew, has excellent range, and can fire over hills and walls, resulting in its widespread adoption.
-A social revolution begins in Denmark, and like many office workers, it is driven by coffee. The economic crisis begins to wind down, and as a wealthy middle class develops particular tastes, they seek to emulate the practice of coffee-drinking. The state is more than happy to allow coffeehouses to spring up in all of the major cities and towns, where with lax regulation the patrons excitedly discuss the big issues of the day. Newspapers begin to spread from these places, and some even open in the colonies. Given that people like to read while drinking coffee, many of the first newspaper printers are actually integrated into the coffeehouses themselves. They import many new ideas about philosophy and politics, especially those from England. The idea that the royal sovereign should have limitations upon his power is an attractive one, and they begin to spread these ideas to all that would listen. The levellers form in Denmark, a faction demanding equality before law, suffrage, and religious tolerance. The open climate allows them to spread their ideas rapidly.
-Denmark signs the treaty of Holstein in 1641, in which they grant a portion of land to England in Canada, form the Baltic alliance, rescind the sound toll for Poland and Livonia, allow their shipping free access to Danish ports and waterways, and agree to start work on the “Kiel canal” in conjunction with Bohemia. They are also given back control of Holstein, and are given permission to re-establish the Kalmar Union over Sweden. Unsurprisingly, the Swedish take offence, and although the general European war ends, the Danish redouble efforts on the Swedish war.
-As the Swedish learn of their betrayal by the Livonians, who pull out of the country to allow the Danish to occupy towns and cities, they are offered political asylum in Livonia. A few take up the offer, but the vast majority of the Swedish instead become violent towards them. Livonian merchants are dragged from their homes and are beaten to death and lynched, while Polish ones are chased from the towns and cities. Soldiers are pelted with rocks and housing tiles, and riots are frequent. After the Livonians leave, the Danish quickly occupy several of the major towns and cities, leading to a widespread collapse in the Swedish forces. With additional dragons to ravage their armies and an offer of amnesty to the Swedish nobility, the rest of the country quickly falls. By 1652, the Danish King marches into Stockholm to have himself declared King of Scandinavia. The Swedish monarchy is exiled, while the remaining functions of government are either dissolved or taken over by the Scandinavian state. They are unable to take over Gotland however, as Livonia seems insistent that it owns the island and is unwilling to cede it.
-With the war concluded, Scandinavia begins to copy the reforms of the Livonian army in earnest, although they have a larger focus on heavy combat dragons and the use of mortar artillery. The army and navy are both reorganized and expanded to absorb existing Swedish military units (including the navy and aerial forces), giving them a much larger capability in war. The additional tax revenues from Sweden offset some of these costs, although the end of the sound toll harms revenue collection significantly. The construction of the Kiel Canal hopes to counter this however, and many people are interested in its potential. Completed in 1668, it is wide enough to allow for narrow barges (but not ships) to cross from the Baltic to the North Sea, and in the first year it begins to take on significant traffic in the form of Polish grain. There is of course a toll for operating and funding the canal, and it looks promising enough to be a major source of revenue. The limited size of the canal (already an engineering achievement) of course impacts on traffic, but it may be possible to extend and widen.
-In 1656, continuing French refusal to leave occupied lands in the Holy Roman Empire begins to escalate tensions between it and Bohemia, eventually resulting in outright war. Obliged to help Bohemia, Scandinavia sends naval forces with English assistance to Makassar, where they seize control of the coveted territory from the French. Then, after the English helped to settle a treaty with the Dutch, secure their support for an invasion of Picardie. English, Dutch, and Danish ships plague French shipping and cripple many of their ports before this, and frequent dragon attacks harm supply lines. When the invasion occurs, the French meet the Danish nearby Arras. Mortars fired bags of pepper into the French aerial forces camp, driving the beasts wild and forcing them to ascend and remain in the air, exhausting them. This was followed by the Dutch-Danish force using heavy dragons to dive at the French ones and drive them back. With superior aerial support, the Dutch-Danish army presses hard and manages to rout the French army, establishing control of Flanders.
-As this was a crippling blow to the French, the move was particularly effective in bringing a conclusion to the war. With setbacks on all fronts, the French were forced to sue for peace on very unfavourable terms, losing vast territories and influence, especially to the Netherlands. Scandinavia’s largest acquisition has been that of Makassar, which inevitably results in a lot of merchants travelling there to begin trading. They bring back home cheap Chinese goods from silks to porcelains, teas and especially cotton clothing. Hated by many artisans, they often attack merchants selling the underpriced goods and their shops. This happens largely in Sweden too, where it merges with general opposition to Danish merchants becoming increasingly influential.
Ruskie – Kingdom of Mutapa
State Religion: Catholic
-As Mutapa continues to modernize and expand their military capabilities, it has now been deemed necessary that a navy be built to protect traders and claw back some revenue for Mutapa, instead of it going overseas. This starts with the construction of the first royal shipyard, complete with large slipways and room to build frigate-type ships, based on European models. In addition, they have copied the Dutch fluyt design for merchant vessels, which, although they cannot be converted into warships very well, are superb for trade. Several more shipyards at built at fishing villages or small trading ports, and within decades they begin to boom in size and suck away business from Spanish ports in the area. The increasing presence of Mutapa trading ships also cut a handsome profit, and by 1670 the Spanish trading posts begin to go into terminal decline.
-The transformation of this state is made most obvious by the official conversion of the King to Catholicism. With most of his population already Catholic it is a widely celebrated move, save for a few noblemen and villages that resent this. Increasing literacy and the power of the state is then later formalized with the establishment of a new legal code, which standardizes and simplifies most of the confusing and overlapping jurisdictions of the old kingdom and makes the king the ultimate legal authority within Mutapa. With a strong government thus assured, the Kingdom expands further, focusing largely on trade routes, rivers, and other valuable territories that hold the most promise. The Spanish are already heavily invested here, but their weakening domestic situation makes it nearly impossible for them to counter the growing threat of Mutapa.
-By the 1660s, the navy has managed to build up to the point it can seriously consider exerting its influence overseas, starting with the hunting down of pirates. In a twenty year period, over 340 men are caught and executed for preying on traders, and eventually the last pirate base is ousted in 1667. This ties in with the growth and expansion of trade, especially as the development of a centralized state to abolish internal tariffs and to protect traders gives a great deal of encouragement. Some merchants have begun to buy maps and navigational equipment that gives them knowledge of much of Madagascar and South Africa, including the cape colonies. In addition, some are now sailing to Egypt, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia, and India, allowing them to tap into markets that were once solely the domain of Europeans and Arabs. This is not without cost however, as the Jesuits are becoming annoyed with the decline of their Spanish benefactors, and attempt to prevent many of these reforms, as the loss in revenues has caused many of their businesses to begin losing out to native competition. In addition, the massive influx of Chinese manufactured goods is readily accepted by Mutapa (although it cripples Spanish merchants), where, with no manufacturing base, is happy to pay for them with agricultural exports and minerals. Cotton is one crop with potential, although it has yet to be introduced here or techniques developed to process it for export.
-Measuring gunpowder for firearms is a time consuming process, and one liable to human error. While paper cartridges have existed for decades, the Mexican government has simplified and standardized the system in the hopes of improving the rate of fire in battle. Firstly, these paper cartridges not only hold a measured charge, but are greased and possess agents that make it easier to slide down the barrel and to clean the gun of residue. With all of these various improvements taken together with the flintlock, one can easily fire 3 shots a minute. In addition, improvements in the field of alchemy have made the manufacture of new powders much easier. The problem of combustion is tackled, and eventually a new theory is developed. Named phlogiston theory, it supposes that all metals (when they burn or rust) will lose the material that makes them flammable, this substance being named phlogiston.
-One of the first practical uses of the new developments in natural philosophy (although nowadays the term science is increasingly preferred), is the use of it in an offensive capacity. By mixing sulphur, nitre, gunpowder, and other materials inside a cast iron shell and firing it from a mortar, one can fire a cannonball that flies in an arc over obstacles and onto the enemy, where the fluid streams out from it and sprays flaming goo over soldiers along with iron fragments. In addition, it is difficult to put out, making it a grim weapon to face against, unless you have a lot of sand or urine. Although adopted for naval use, it is quickly shelved after it accidentally sets fire to the rigging of ships that use them. Soldiers are also now being given uniforms dyed green from natural dyes, which fade to become a muddy green that is difficult to see from a distance. Of course, the fact that guns give off a lot of smoke tends to make it easy to see them once they fire their gun.
-Mexico begins to expand northwards once more, bringing the last of the troublesome tribes under their thumb, such as the Pueblo peoples. Central government authority is considerably weakened here however, and despite the migration of settlers to establish farmsteads here, it is a frontier land where law is very much a thing taken into private hands. Cotton is one of the first major things grown here, but there is a major problem with the cotton. Unlike Indian cotton, the shorter fibres in America make converting it into thread and then cloth much harder, largely leaving domestic cotton to be consumed at home due to its inferior quality and lack of demand overseas. Nonetheless, these farms still turn a profit, and as the number of farmers grow, so too do the number of forts and military patrols. A permanent border with the French colony is established on the Rio Grande, with the Mexicans being content to settle the west. Significant military assistance is given to the French, and while the war does not go as expertly planned, Mexico gains valuable experience, without any noteworthy losses. The most significant battle is during the invasion of Texas, when the English land and their water-based small dragons are easily seen off by the larger Mexican ones, trained with French handlers. They then easily crush the English forces on land.
-Several state-sponsored policies to encourage economic growth are introduced at this time due to mining becoming gradually less attractive as silver and gold output peaks. Watermill and windmills are built by the central government, while existing road networks are expanded or rebuilt. Unfortunately, these top-down policies only appear to have a limited effect, and after thirty years barely a dent has been made in the life of the average Mexican, 80% of which tend to be subsistence farmers. While a small number are being integrated into a growing market economy in which cash crops are focused on, transportation costs and international competition make overseas markets difficult to break into. The most successful of the new industries is in growing the coca plant. The leaves are dried and often mixed with tobacco before being sold. While popular domestically, it has yet to break into wider markets. A reason cited is that long travel times and conditions cause the leaves to degrade and weaken their potency.
-A new art movement called “futurism” begins in Mexico. Characterized by an extreme disdain for old traditions and customs, it emphasizes speed, mechanical views of nature, violence, and other related subject matters. In architecture, it places a demand on long, dynamic lines. The parliament is rebuilt in such a manner in 1659, and is it hated by most of the people in the city for its perceived ugliness. It stands in stark contrast to the excessive baroque style that is in vogue among many people too, in which elaborately ornate buildings, music, and art are popular. Some of these architects are sent to the new colony to the far north in California, where a town has been established at the “Golden Gate”. The governor’s manor is in such a style, and looks oddly out of place among the small wooden and stone houses scattered around the area, in addition to a timber and earth fort.
-Venice sits in the middle of a body of water, and a shortage of water is not one of their problems. The shipyards frequently suffer from leakage, and a recent development throughout parts of Europe is adopted as a solution. By making a large metal boiler and filling it with steam, you can then squirt water into the boiler and produce a partial vacuum that can be used to do work. This principle is initially used to pump water out of the shipyards, before being introduced to several mines. Unfortunately, its inefficiencies and the lack of coal limit its effectiveness, and the machine is not very popular. The shipwrights do however purchase one during the expansion of the Venice arsenal, as now larger ships must be built in order to maintain Venetian naval supremacy. This new generation of vessels, primarily frigates, are named “ships of the line”, from the fact that they form the line of battle in a naval engagement. As they grow larger and carry more guns, they are now steadily displacing both galleys and galleons. Venice will find it hard to adapt however, especially as the waters around their port are shallow.
-In 1641, after exhausting years of war, the Republic signs the treaty of Holstein, ending the long protracted conflict. It is a major blow, with all of their holdings in the Caribbean being ceded to France and Savoy being finally annexed into the Kingdom for good. In return, the French leave the territories previously owned by Venice and return them, although this hardly offsets the major loss to both Italy as a whole and Venice. Malacca is ceded to England, plus indemnities are paid to them. The Holy Roman Empire is weakened even further, and a miscalculation on behalf of the Bohemian Emperor results in the descent into another awful war. Venice attempts to sign an alliance with France in the hopes they can offer support in a war with the Ottoman Empire, but increasing pressure on the behalf of Bohemia eventually forces a war between them and France.
-The Venetian Republic begins a major conscription campaign, where they enlist every man they can find, putting them through a vigorous 6 week training regimen to ensure they can march, reload, aim, and fire their guns. Manufactories are established to help supply the necessary guns, cloth, uniforms, powder, and other essential supplies needed to maintain an army. Unfortunately, these tend to be quite expensive, especially when men leave the land to work in them or the army, and end up allowing harvests to suffer. This inevitably leads to many men trying to stay out of military service, but to little avail as many are forcibly press ganged. They desert whenever possible. The Venetian government introduces one of the first “propaganda” campaigns to counter desertion and to encourage workers to accept lower pay, as keeping the Turks at bay is considered more important. Many Italians care little, and see it as a war imposed by the near-foreign republic, and frequently they attack army recruiters.
-The Venetians first attempt to subjugate Northern Italy. Despite massive economic weaknesses and heavy debt, they do have a much larger army, with years of experience behind them. They progressively subdue and annex effectively all of Northern Italy, before seizing the banks and struggling to squeeze taxes and supplies out from their new acquisitions. Already hostile, there are frequent outbreaks of rebellion, needing major military intervention to put them down. Unfortunately, the Republic is forced to declare bankruptcy anyways, ruining many bankers and merchants and in turn starting a financial crisis in Spain. During this war, the “Marino Company” is formed within the Venetian navy. Consisting of soldiers who are trained in both land and naval warfare in addition to being suited to amphibious invasion, they are rightfully feared and respected for their abilities, bravery, and tough training. Some naval shipwrights also travel to Persia, to assist with their naval modernization program.
-With war on the horizon again, Venice pledges assistance to Bohemia in the war with the Ottomans, although it is clear that Venice is already considerably war-weary. They invade without French assistance, due to France being tied down in the war in Germany and Venice being unwilling to intervene in that conflict. Using dragons and multiple frigates, the Venetians bombard Ottoman ports and towns before landing with the marines. Initially successful, they are then halted by the arrival of the Ottoman navy. While the Ottomans possess many more galleys and dragons, the Venetian frigates are much more suited to the new methods of warfare, and destroy the Ottoman galleys, pushing them back. Crete and several parts of the Adriatic are regained, but they are unable to push further after the crippling cost of the war and the rebellions in Italy bankrupt Venice once more, forcing them to sue for peace with only the minimal gains of Crete and a few other pieces of territory. Bohemia itself is the primary concern of the Ottomans, and due to this are heavily side-lined during talks with the Ottomans, with the lion’s share of gains in the war going to Bohemia, Poland, and Persia. Venice has overall become relatively much poorer, with their gains either ceded away or squandered in war, which has made the government deeply unpopular among the people. The economy continues to shrink as trade in the Atlantic gains momentum, and Venice is slowly left behind. By 1670, the French government establishes a permanent embassy, sending over a large number of gifts in the hopes of currying favour.
-The Ming state, investing significant resources into the navy (in response to the rise of raiding Japanese pirates and the incursions of foreign traders) manages to develop new ship designs that draw upon the best of both native and foreign shipbuilding techniques. Abandoning many old designs, they come up with a ship that bears a superficial appearance to European frigates. With a long flattened deck to hold many guns and a design that bulges out towards the bottom to accommodate heavier pieces, they are well suited to naval warfare. In addition, new arsenals have been established to put cast bronze guns inside these ships, although inferior metalworking techniques means these guns tend to be heavier and harder to move than European ones. In addition, while their ships are among the most advanced in East Asia, the lack of experience with them means that building more and maintaining them is both costly and time consuming.
-In addition, many new military reforms are being carried out on land too. News of the “Terrible War” of the west has reached the Imperial court, where lurid descriptions of the use of gun, pike, dragon, and sabre horrify many dragons and bureaucrats present. They opt to send officers and generals on embassies to Europe, where they observe the new trends in warfare, such as an increasing emphasis on firearms and the increasing focus put on the use of massed volleys and charges to break enemy lines. Artillery and the ability to move it around quickly is another important factor now, while cavalry have been assigned specialist roles. This all is noted and written down in a “Commentary on European War”, which is made necessary for those with a military career to read and be examined upon in the new military academy. This may be useful, as Russia has begun to expand to the north of China, and it may be prudent to negotiate a border with them.
-Problems of food supply and distribution in addition to the ongoing financial crisis weaken the Middle Kingdom, although some token reforms are made to address this. The merchants are formally granted the right to have seats in the Imperial court, where they may advise the Emperor on a suitable course of action. Unfortunately, this gesture only works for a few years, as it becomes clear the Emperor lacks the power to hold the Empire together. The merchants tend to press for greater opening up of trade with the foreigners, which while it cuts down on smuggling, only worsen the outflow of silver. The first water-powered “factories” begin to proliferate throughout the east in areas where wages are the highest, and utilizing strong divisions of labour, they drive down manufacturing costs even more. Silver mining in the New World effectively implodes at this time too, bringing an end to inflationary pressures. In fact, the collapse of prices of manufactured goods throws many thousands of artisans out of work, as merchants centralize production. They riot and smash the machines, demanding an end to their usage. Unfortunately for them, in Guangzhou alone, the number of spinning frames increases from 14 to 1300 in the space of thirty years. Cotton imports begin to grow too, sucking up as much cotton from India as possible, while mulberry plantations continue to grow and expand.
-Europeans have ended up cracking into the Chinese market, where the residents are hungry for goods ranging from tobacco, cotton, sugar, alcohol, and spices. In return they sell once prized Chinese monopolies such as silk, porcelain, tea, and salt. While the economy grows, it also slips increasingly from the grasp of the state. The policy of using dragons as governors has backfired as now they cost just as much as the human ones to feed and house. Tax revenues are in decline as traditional sources of income weaken and no suitable reforms to tax collection have been made. The massive population shifts northwards and westwards especially annoy the Mongolians, who are being pushed out of their old homeland by a peasantry that relies not upon rice but potatoes and maize. The Mongolians rebel and raid the north, while the Khoshut raid the west, with catastrophic results. Unlike in the past, they are easily seen off by hordes of musket armed peasantry and soldiers, who spare no mercy for the nomads who have terrorized China for thousands of years. Many demand a campaign to finish them off for good.
-The Emperor does manage to push through a few successful reforms at this time however. With the aid of the merchants (or under pressure from them), he gradually lifts many restrictions on the construction of roads, bridges, and canals, allowing the merchants to build them wherever they please. The gentry complain bitterly about the destruction of the tranquil landscape, which has been torn up to make way for canals or roads. Tolls are imposed on these links as well, and while they are objectively better than the ones that came before, these tolls are poorly received by peasants and traders unused to them. Millet cultivation methods improve in the areas with poor soils too, while the advent of maize and potatoes does much to reduce the risk of famine. Unfortunately, this has also aided the decline of the rural gentry. Faced with lowered profits from agriculture and unable to compete with merchants for power or wealth, they are now starting to rent off their estates or even sell them off. As the gentry consist of the vast majority of the governments reach in rural areas (where dragons do not have the time to deal with everyday problems), this has in turn led to reduced taxation revenue and the weakening of the state.
-A new invention could help make the lives of miners easier, and it uses a novel source of power. Called a “fire engine”, it consists of a boiler and several interconnecting pipes. By heating water in the boiler into steam and using valves to control its movement before cooling the steam, a partial vacuum is created which sucks up water into it. It is of excellent use in the deeper mines of Livonia, where hand pumps are too weak. At around the same time, there have also been further improvements to the firearms used by skirmishers. While rifling has been around for centuries, it is now being adopted on a wider scale for potential use in the field, where skilled riflemen can harass enemy soldiers and sow confusion and panic among their ranks. Of course, as it clogs easily and takes a long while to reload, it is not well suited to use by line infantry and due to the fragile nature of the guns, they cannot hold bayonets, making them especially weak in close quarters.
-With the war in Sweden and Poland coming to a close, the treaty of Holstein is signed in 1641 between all belligerent parties. Livonia in particular makes some several major gains, although not without cost. The colony in Nova Scotia is ceded back to them by England, while the dissolution of Brandenburg-Prussia finally brings Ducal Prussia under Livonian control. The Sound Toll is rescinded in addition, giving Livonian shipping an advantage and allowing them free access to the North Sea and the Atlantic. Unfortunately, this required abandoning their Swedish ally and handing over control of occupied cities over to Denmark. The Swedish citizenry reacted largely with disgust, with them throwing stones at the soldiers, setting houses on fire, and dragging Livonians out of their homes before lynching them. With the Kalmar Union being formed once more, the Livonian king feels guilty enough to offer political asylum to the Swedish royal family and nobility. They unsurprisingly take it as an insult, and many seek refuge elsewhere or otherwise collaborate with the arriving Danes. Livonia decides to also annex Gotland for good measure, annoying the newly formed Scandinavia that they are technically allied with through the Baltic alliance.
-Continuing with a tradition of military reform and innovation, there is a greater focus on military engineering, with the ad hoc artillery and sapper crews being slowly integrated into professional military units. They are initially trained to dig trenches and help with the layout of camps, before their duties expand to the building and deployment of pontoon and wooden bridges in addition to preparing suitable ground for artillery batteries. Other reforms focus on the conduct of soldiers, with pillaging, rape, theft, and buggery banned. Although unpopular, the discipline benefits are significant and beneficial. Officers are also encouraged to use their own initiative more, with a larger demand placed on exploiting the terrain to their advantage. To make this possible, Livonia begins to conduct some of the first “mock battles” in modern armies. Firing blanks and made to manoeuvre over difficult terrain, it is much more practical than having men march around in drill grounds, although it is costly.
-With the new reforms in place and recovery from the war underway, the Livonian army nearly doubles in size, as new conscription offices are established throughout Lithuania and Prussia, recruiting many thousands of new men to the army. Many of them are former Polish rebels or have had experience in the civil war, and in the closing stages of the Polish civil war they make an appearance. They siege the remaining cities and castles of the eastern parts of the Polish territories, capture and execute the remaining ringleaders, and finally when they return home they go on a major program to “slight” the castles of the nobility. Many are often seized and rebuilt into star forts and gun batteries for national defence, as the ever present threat of Russia looms on the horizon.
-When relations between France and Bohemia break down, it sparks yet another conflict, although this time Livonia generally stays out of it. With the exception of the seizure of Cape Breton Island and several expeditionary forces to assist Bohemia, they hardly intervene and retain the bulk of their forces at home or send them on other adventures. The Comoros are settled around this time by the Livonian India Company, while several tribes on Madagascar are subjugated with the aid of rival tribes. The skill of the Livonian soldier is a major advantage here, although disease and hostility limits them primarily to the coast. Fort Kettler is constructed in addition to a small wharf, in the hopes of being able to profit from overseas trade. Unusually, they ban slave trading, which are a major source of revenue in this part of the world. However they are still successful at breaking into a few small niches of the trade with China and India, although nowhere near the scale of other European powers. Nova Scotia holds some promise too, as fur trapping is profitable along with forestry and fishing. Since trade is fairly limited due to competition, while Chinese manufacturers threaten some domestic industries, mercantilism is introduced to protect both. Given that the Sound Toll has been abolished and that Poland has an even smaller interest in overseas trade, it allows them to comfortably become the major supplier of luxury goods. The construction of the Kiel Canal is a further boost to this too, as now Livonian nobles can sell their grain to Western Europe much more easily.
-The end of the French war sees Livonia hold onto Cape Breton Island, and further cements their position as a new power in Europe. Their influence stretches beyond even Europe, as Persia spends a great deal of money on importing their muskets, military advisors, and artillery, seeing the Livonian army as one of the best in the known world. The strengthened monarchy enjoys popular support from most of their subjects, support from the church, and a subservient nobility. The peasantry have become slightly unhappy as late, since now the nobility have found it profitable to tie them to the land to grow crops for export. The middle classes enjoy the widespread tolerance of the competing faiths, although in their coffeehouse conversations they have heard of ideas from England and Denmark that challenge the natural order of society. The army is strong, well-funded, and sizable, while the monarchy enjoys riches through shrewd tax policies and careful accounting.
-With the field of physics gradually becoming a field in its own right, many philosophers in this area have begun to make predictions and record observations of various natural phenomena. The latest involves the swinging of a pendulum, which seems to oscillate reliably. It doesn’t take long for this to be integrated into mechanical clocks along with an escapement mechanism, and by the 1660s the first “pendulum clocks” are appearing throughout Persia. They are extremely prized by astronomers for their accuracy. One concurrent development in the same field of science involves the use of pressure to achieve work. By heating steam in a boiler and then rapidly cooling it, you can create suction beyond that of a manual handpump, which makes pumping water to greater heights much more feasible. Unfortunately, the high expense of fuel and the machines inefficiency makes it near useless in practical application.
-During this period in Persian history, the monarchy managed to establish amicable relations with Livonia and secure their backing to send teams of military experts to reform the Persian army. On their arrival, they are treated as personal guests of the Shah, and are given free rein to carry out the necessary reforms. This begins with the adoption of new muskets adapted for bayonets, the introduction of bayonet itself, and the construction of military academies in Tehran and Jerusalem respectively to train the next generation of officers. Several other changes are made to weaponry and strategy too, such as the shortening of gun barrels, the abandonment of grenadier mortars, and a heavier focus on using volley fire and bayonet charges to break the opposing enemy unit. Within a decade, the Persian army begins to increasingly resemble the Livonian one in dress, drill, and discipline.
-As these reforms continue to rapidly reshape the armed forces, the Persians now see to it that their navy be updated in a similar manner. Following the example of the Livonians and Polish, the Shah commissions a vast number of gunboats to be constructed to aid in pushing their influence in the Mediterranean. To ensure that they have capital ships as well, they also receive assistance from their old allies Venice to help build several frigates. Although they are expensive (some ships possess more guns than armies) and take months or years to build, they are well worth the investment. Several smaller ships suited for exploration and trading are also built. Given that willing sailors are in short supply, they are filled with prisoners, and the exploration fleet is sent to Australia. They sail down the coast, eventually reaching an island of primitives. The decision is then made to dump all of the prisoners there and build a prison colony, and after the population of the island halves, the colony of New Babylon finally stabilizes and begins to slowly grow. Conflict with the natives is common, and by 1670 their numbers are in terminal decline. Prisoners tend to have a habit of wandering out of the camp and kidnapping women or stealing from the natives. The governor is complicit.
-Back home, Persian society continues to go through what is effectively a renaissance. Persian is finally adopted as the language of administration and education, a severe blow to the Arab-speakers who continue to see their position weaken. Although Arab-majority speaking areas are permitted to use it, they have lost their former influence in the central government. Forced labour and slavery begins to be steadily abolished at this time, at the cost of prompting severe revolts by the aristocracy, which in turn are put down by the newly reformed army. The Shah finally decides to rid his nation of their influence for good, by ordering the expulsion of all Qizilbash to Arab-speaking territories, and redistributing the land among the peasantry or those who were loyal to him. Although several thousand die or flee in the process, it enjoys popular support, and the Shah consolidates his powerbase even further. A form of welfare is adopted, where each rural district must provide some form of employment and lodging for those without work (typically building roads or irrigation) and basic supplies of clothing and food to the infirm. It is limited in effect however, as the end of serfdom means many nobles have become impoverished and many peasants have no jobs. They begin to move to the cities and towns, some buy or rent the land of their former masters, while others take up artisan crafts. The landed aristocracy are quickly losing their privileged status.
-Religious laws begin to gradually weaken at this time too, with the shah heavily undermining religious authorities in favour of strengthening his own secular power. The courts begin to accrue more powers, especially as the common people begin to prefer attending ones where the vernacular is spoken. The multiple faiths in the Empire continue this trend, as Christian and Jewish communities begin to practice more openly and enter positions in government or the army. Several people from Sweden, Livonia, and Poland settle in Persia too to aid with the establishment and growth of trade contacts, while merchants from the Mughal Empire also become more common. They not only bring eastern manufactured goods, but agricultural products such as sugar and cotton, which the new artisans are process into finished goods in high demand.
-Tensions with the Ottoman Empire continue to rise however, and with Europe still bloodied from war, they are given a perfect opportunity to strike when Bohemia, Venice, and Poland declare war on the Ottoman Empire, putting their military and logistical systems under severe strain. The Persian army, outfitted in the latest weaponry (much of it imported) and trained in the modern style, commence the war by invading Egypt. Concurrently, a large fleet of gunboats are deployed to help defend the ports and restrict Ottoman supply lines. Unfortunately, the Ottomans deployed the majority of their dragons to this front (largely as a result of the main breeding grounds residing in Egypt) and ravaged the gunboat fleets. The Persians are only saved by the entry of the Venetians, whose navy devastates the Ottoman fleet (Venice is however crippled by the war, and is forced to sue for an early peace). After this, the conquest of Egypt went without major problems, especially due to the restrictions on looting and violent repressions. The old governors retain their positions, there are no cruel taxes imposed, and overall their presence is generally accepted.
-Occupying Egypt took a great deal of manpower however, and when the war moves into Anatolia the progress of the army slows down. They are constantly attacked by dragons and find the terrain difficult as they march westwards. The Ottomans, freed from the strain of a naval war against Venice, then later move most of their dragons to Cyprus as a base to attack Persian supply lines and shipping from. Despite the deployment of gunboats and new frigates, the Persians are unable to disable the coastal artillery on the island or dragon patrols. A move by Persia to launch an invasion of Thrace by sea ends disastrously when the Ottomans send fireships into the Persian fleet and set many of them ablaze, crippling the advance. The war continued to drag on for years at high expense to both sides, and eventually the Ottomans sued for peace when bankruptcy caused an attempted coup by the Janissaries. In the treaty, they effectively ceded the vast bulk of their empire away, with most of Anatolia and all of Egypt in addition to Libya lost to Persia alone. Heavy losses in the Balkans effectively destroy what was once a great power, the Empire of Osman now increasingly resembling the Byzantium he helped dismantle several centuries prior. It now remains to be seen how Persia will take up the mantle, especially as they now rule over vast multitudes of different peoples that are troublesome at best to manage.
-Copying developments in the Bohemian aerial forces over the last few decades, the Polish begin to adopt armour for their dragons, consisting of metal plate or chainmail bolted together and held onto the beast with leather straps and chains. Capable of reducing damage from small arms and giving the beast extra momentum when it comes to diving on targets, they nonetheless are costly and can only be used on short bursts before tiring them. However, a more interesting development takes place in the University of Krakow. There, the work of Harvey into the circulation of blood in the body has become common knowledge. In Krakow, they also carry out experiments on the veins and blood flow, by deliberately inducing clots to cut off blood supply and observe what happens to the animal. They discover that after a dog was drained of blood to near death that quickly introducing another dog’s blood into those veins via pump saved the dog’s life. The students of medicine are excited by the findings, and begin to look for other applications and potential experiments.
-These developments were largely brought on by the experience of war, especially the recent terrible war that Europe descended into. When peace is signed at the treaty of Holstein in 1641, Poland comes out of the treaty reasonably well, securing free access to Danish (and later Scandinavian) waterways, the abolishment of the sound toll, and their royal prerogative over Prussia is recognized once more (with the duchy granted to Livonia as originally intended). Livonia comes out of these talks fairly well too, and continues to send military support to help bring the civil war in Poland to an end in thanks. As this Polish civil war winds down, the valuable experience gained in the war and from Livonian military reform leads to the Polish army becoming one of the best in the world, with a highly professional nature that allows them to conduct war with brutal efficiency. Speeches given by the King before battles helps to raise the morale of these new confident soldiers, who finish the last campaign to subdue the rebels for good. An ultimatum is issued, which grants the last rebels a pardon if they leave, and leaves their lands free from being seized. Given the progress of the war, the last great landowners leave the movement, and the smaller gentry (who had little to lose) end up fighting to the end and moving to Russia. There, they form the bulk of new explorers and soldiers that fight in Russia’s wars to the east. The remaining land that Poland has claim to are seized and redistributed to loyalist supporters.
-With opposition crushed, the monarchy continues to enact additional reforms and increase their power base. The nobility are made dependent on the state for help, while the peasantry are more tightly controlled and integrated than ever into serfdom in order to produce enough grain for export. The construction of a canal in Kiel and the removal of Danish tolls contribute to the revival of agriculture in Poland, and by 1670 exports are at their highest level yet. The monies gained are then spent by the nobility on fine mansions, artwork, and palatial estates. To gain support among the middling classes, the Polish state removes many restrictions on printing in the vernacular, allowing books in Ukrainian or Russian to be printed widely. Newspapers become popular in the main cities, although the penetration of new ideas from England and Denmark have a tendency to both support and question the legitimacy of an absolute monarchy. Coffeeshops in Gdansk are a centre for the great debates on politics, and many of the merchants and artisans there begin to form associations to lobby for reform. There is also a general increase in civic and national pride, as many towns have funded the construction of monuments in remembrance of the war, and the monarchy spares no expense on promoting the need for a strong state to uphold stability.
-With tensions between Bohemia and France (then later the Ottomans) leading to outright war, the Bohemians call on their Polish allies to help assist. They gladly do so, and invade the Ottoman Empire. While the Ottomans are by no means weak, their military is behind the curve of other powerful nations and only possesses numbers as a strength. They are shocked by the speed and power of the Polish armies, which descend on Romania and cut off major supply lines. The other armies invade France holdings in Germany and Ottoman dependencies around the Black Sea, utilizing swarms of gunboats left over from the civil war to bring guns for offshore batteries to hammer coastal defences. The Ottomans are of course heavily tied down in other fronts (mostly notably with Persia), and with Persia and Poland occupying vast swathes of land they are incapable of reinforcing the gains made in Bohemia in the opening moves of the war. They are forced to sue for peace with all three powers, ceding away the vast majority of their empire. Poland comes out a clear winner, annexing the Crimean khanate and most of the territory north of the Danube. Bohemia also annexes a great deal of land, but their reduced military size and the war with France limited the territories annexed.
-Bohemia, one of the pre-eminent military powers of Europe and possessing one of the largest aerial forces (bested only by France) begins to enact reforms in this period, learning from the experiences of Neapolitan aerial forces and years of war. It is generally a professionalization of the officer corps, the adoption of the modern system of organizing dragons, examinations, regular wages and holidays, centralized command, and a government body set aside to purchase land and pasture for dragons to stay in when they are not performing any duties. These reforms come concurrently at the time of similar French ones, and are largely brought about by necessity as maintaining a massive aerial force tends to bring with it a new set of challenges in itself. Around the same time, the Bohemians also invent a type of early pressure cooker, which uses pressurized steam to cook a whole chicken or joint of meat in a mere half hour.
-In 1641, with Bohemia exhausted by war (in addition to the rest of Europe), the Emperor calls a meeting between all of the heads of the various European and German states, to agree on a treaty that would end the state of war and try to make the nations of Europe ultimately happy (and thus less likely to go to war). In Holstein, while the treaty covered many nations, Bohemia itself had several gains and losses from the war, some of which ultimately weakened the Empire. Holstein is granted back to Denmark, while they are recognized to ultimately have authority over all the Scandinavian peoples, weakening the German states of the north heavily (The Hanseatic league holds their last meeting before dissolving as a result). As a gain, Brandenburg-Prussia is dissolved, while the Margrave is re-established, although ultimately the next clause negated this. Sovereignty was granted to effectively all of the states of the Empire, with states free to practice their own religions. The Netherlands left the Empire itself in addition. The pope protested heavily against his reduction in influence, but was side-lined over more pressing concerns. France also gained authority over many territories in Germany, but as diplomatic pressure failed, it ultimately led to a second war.
-In this second war, Bohemia invaded French possessions in the Empire, while their allies would reinforce them by either invading through the north and naval warfare overseas (in the case of the Netherlands, English, and Scandinavians) or by supporting Bohemian moves in the Empire. Unfortunately, high tensions with the Ottomans also led to war. At one point the Ottomans besieged Vienna, but the entry of Venice, Poland, and Persia led to major losses. In addition, heavy dragon raids led to the collapse of supply lines and the need to pull back. The Bohemians could then safely push into the Ottoman Empire until they encountered significant resistance in the south, due to an increasingly hostile population with larger concentrations of Muslims and poor terrain that impeded their advance. In Germany, the Bohemians suffered major losses against the French that resulted in a stalemate until the breakthrough of the Dutch into Flanders forced the French to sue for peace.
-The treaty finally brought back some of the lost prestige and territories of Bohemia, with the conquest of large swathes of the Balkans and return of all of Frances possessions within the Holy Roman Empire to their former owners. Unfortunately, many of the new territories gained from the Ottomans are full of multiple ethnic and religious groups, most of whom hate each other. The new laws have yet to apply here, and the native ruling elites tend to regard Bohemian rule as little better than Ottoman rule. Nonetheless, there is an economic revival brought about due to peace and improved ease of travel within Bohemian possessions. The addition of ports means that Bohemia now also has sea access, giving them access to foreign markets. Recovery in the north of the Empire is also aided by the growth of Polish agriculture and the construction of the Kiel Canal (a joint project between Bohemia and Denmark). The abolishment of the sound toll also promotes Baltic trade, allowing cheap Polish grain to enter Northern Germany and travel upriver into the Empire.
-The weakened Tokugawa pursue a policy of importing as many guns as they can get their hands on, or manufacturing their own. Breechloading swivel guns are churned out in massive numbers, while flintlock muskets are bought, stolen, or made for the collapsing army. As the war on the rebels continues, the government loses more ground, especially as the Imperial faction begins to print a large number of propaganda posters and send spies to attack them. A campaign is later declared to purge Japan of the Ikko-Ikki, while help is expected from Denmark-Norway. Unfortunately, the Tokugawa hedged their bets on this Danish help, while wasting a great deal of manpower and resources into killing every Ikko-Ikki they can find.
-The war goes from bad to worse by 1644, when the genocide against the Ikko-Ikki reaches fever pitch. Peasants who profess the faith are executed publicly, and although successful at killing many, it only serves to kick away the last pillars of support for the regime. Dragons are used to burn and raid villages, although their handlers eventually end up switching sides. A major battle in 1645 sees the complete collapse of the remainder of the armed forces, and within weeks the Imperial forces enter Edo. The disgraced Tokugawa are exiled from Japan, and the country is once again unified under control of the Emperor for the first time in centuries. The history of modern Japan has begun.
-With experience from the wars in Korea, the Japanese have opted to develop a rather strange type of weapon in imitation of Korean artillery. Called a “Kasaikāto” (fire cart), it is a frame in which dozens of arrows with small rockets attached can be fired from. Although horribly inaccurate, it is devastating if used correctly, in particular against dragons or the flanks of infantry or cavalry. The burning powder may explode in addition, causing further hurt. They are deployed with great effect against the Tokugawa, where their dragons are driven from attacking fortified positions with these machines. Later, when the war is taken to the northeast and later to Edo, the use of rifled guns comes into play. Although the user may often take several minutes to load, aim, and fire, it is an accurate weapon. They are considerably delicate however, and as such only really see use in siege warfare, where time is not always a pressing issue.
-The wily Japanese Emperor is a capable man, and one that takes advantage of the situations as they come to him. Noticing inferiority in the quality and number of troops he had, he heard of the Tokugawa aspirations to purge the Ikko-Ikki. He thus orders the manufacture of many posters to be put up in cities under enemy control to spread rumours and demoralize the enemy. Next, the Tokugawa attacked the Ikko-Ikki, wasting military resources and exhausting them. However, the Emperor still did not have enough time to build up his army, and thus he ordered an attack on the supply warehouses of the enemy forces. This spread confusion among the Tokugawa and was also abused by the Emperors forces to steal enemy firearms.
-Adopting Spanish drill, the Imperial forces use line infantry and pikemen, along with large numbers of artillery for support (including the cheap kasaikato). 50,000 men are raised for a final campaign, which sees a final march west on Edo. The remaining supporters of the Tokugawa switch sides or flee, especially as the prospect of losing their estates becomes more likely. Several battles see the eventual destruction of Tokugawa forces, and by 1648 the Emperors have reunified Japan under their control for the first time since the Heian period. Of course, their conversion to Christianity has not gone unnoticed. While popular in the southwest where his main support base lies, the religion is not as readily accepted elsewhere. Even by the 1660s, a tenth of the population has converted, although they are predominately concentrated in the upper and middle classes (which use the religion as a way of gaining control to markets or ascending the ladder of power). Latin becomes a fashionable second language, after people are informed of its importance to the former kingdom of “Daqin”, a great empire that perished over a thousand years ago.
-From the 1650s onwards, Japan begins the task of rebuilding from the excesses of the Sengoku Jidai. The Emperor promotes a policy of “Encourage production, practice thrift” to ensure that manufactured goods are exported to their benefactors overseas in return for valuable goods (tobacco is becoming popular in Japan). In addition, he lowers taxes to win the support of the peasantry, and begins a project to rebuild and repair most of the old irrigation systems. Within a few decades, agricultural production has recovered and is booming, although forestry is retreating due to the massive demand for timber. The samurai also begin to go into decline, as the locus of power moves from the countryside into the growing cities. The peasantry begin to demand land reforms once more, and the shift to a money economy has begun to annoy the gentry which find it difficult to finance their expensive lifestyles. They begin to rent out their land to the peasantry or convert them into commercial enterprises wherever possible (although this is looked down upon). The similar trends ongoing in China have begun to replicate themselves here, although time will only tell what the end result will be.
FireSale69 – Australia
Capital: New Caspian
State Religion: Death God
-In 1642, Dutch exploration vessel carrying a hundred men is shipwrecked on the southeast coast, resulting in the loss of dozens including most of the senior officers on board in addition to most navigational equipment and books. Creating a small settlement named “New Caspian”, it sets up farms but suffers from constant malnutrition and illness. The crew quarrel with a nearby tribe, and abduct many of the women before raping them and holding them as slaves. The ship’s captain argues with his crew about releasing them, but he is murdered during a mutiny. Attempts are made to build another ship, but without skilled crewmembers who can navigate, it is grounded and attempts at leaving are given up until the Dutch send another ship. Due to the progress of the terrible war in Europe, this ship never arrives.
-By 1650, many mixed race children have been born, and the entire ships supply of bullets, food, clothing, rope, and other materials have been lost, used up, or traded away. The remaining crew is further worsened by the loss of literate members, bloody skirmishes with local tribes, and the inability to access a bible. With their situation as it is, they are increasingly forced to build up their own society that can sustain themselves. Starting with raids to capture slaves and concubines, they move towards subjugating the native aboriginals and forcing them to pay tribute. By the 1660s, the first generation of mixed race children come of age. With some understanding of Dutch and knowledge of Christianity, they increasingly come to see their god as one of war, based on a few fragmentary tales from the Old Testament a few crewmembers memorized. Descending further into savagery, they do however retain a great deal such as the use of agriculture and metalworking in addition to pottery and masonry structures. Increasingly, it comes to resemble a form of Bronze Age society, and slowly but surely it expands, although by 1670, nearly the entire original crew has died and the second generation is being born, one even further displaced from their grandparents.
Notes: This is the last turn that was made for Spring of Dragons.