And Rumours of War: Overview

It’s time I provided a touch of strategic context, in the form of a brief list of the main game events of the past 75 years, and then some comments. Dates are approximate.

  • 1595-1605: Fall of Rome. The Byzantine Empire, beset on all sides by enemies, finally crumbles and is destroyed. Anatolia is annexed to Georgia, which proclaims itself the Third Rome (and switches tags to BYZ). The Balkans are split between Brittany, Prussia, and Germany; Russia gains Constantinople and the Black Sea coastline connecting it to the Ukraine. The Last Emperor becomes a byword for tactical and strategic skill, inflicting something on the order of three casualties for every Greek killed, while outnumbered six to one.
  • 1609-1632: War of the Baltic League. Norway blockades Germany and Prussia, crippling the German economy, but is unable to land a killing blow. The war ends in a compromise peace, but the British Isles are finally united under Norwegian rule.
  • 1648-1649: Normandie War. France has finally recovered sufficiently from its civil war (in the shape of a collapse from rebels and a huge Auvergne arising) to attack Germany. The battle-hardened French armies destroy the German forces in Normandy, but are unable to land killing blows due to manpower constraints. The war ends with France recovering its Channel coastline.
  • 1661-1668: Rhone Valley War. France, in a surfeit of optimism, attacks Italy in an attempt to repair its southern border as well. Its navy is destroyed in the decisive battle of the Lusitanian Sea, and it is thus unable to threaten the Italian colonies and blockade its coastline as planned. The war drags on for several years due to the stubborn efficiency of the French generals and the uncomplaining heroism of their troops, but ends in giving Italy two provinces.
  • 1647-1671: Mediterranean War. This is the epic conflict of Georgia (now Byzantium) and Brittany. The two undisputed Great Powers of the world have hammered each other for twenty years now. Both sides claim to be winning. The actual victor is not easy to determine. What’s clear is that Brittany has lost its fleet and its Balkan possessions, but has been able to defend Africa. Both sides have reached their WE caps, but the rebels are being kept in check by the respective allies. The casualties are easily in the hundreds of thousands. The war continues.

It is worth noting that these little wars are all fought in the shadow of the two alliance blocs; on the one side Georgia-Russia-China-France-Norway, on the other Brittany-Italy-Germany-Prussia. This leads to wars having to be arranged like tea parties, or else the whole world will become involved; and also to their limited character, because the neutrals will deploy their armies to keep the rebels down. With no rebel worries it has so far proved impossible to force a major nation to make large concessions. (And besides, who knows what might happen if crippling demands were made.)

Both Norway and France appear to have gotten stronger in these decades. France, at one point, was literally a one-province minor due to that huge rebellion, so it would actually be rather hard for it not to have gotten stronger. Even so, the combination of small, rich domain with huge trade has given it a very nice tech position. As for Norway, uniting the Isles was a huge strategic gain, my navy is now one of the strongest in the world, and I’m finally seeing large incomes from the colonies. Viceroys ftw, not to mention monopolising trade in the third-largest COT in the world.

Internally, these are quiet years for the Ynglings. Everybody is getting rich off trade with the New World, the English and French language communities have representation in the Ting, nobody has any particular grievances. There is still prestige in the Yngling name, but it’s not the virulent ethnic oppression of the first Yngling timeline. That was a low-probability historical accident, brought about by several consecutive defeats in hard-fought attritional wars and a desperate need for scapegoats. In this timeline Norway has been winning its wars, or not losing too terribly, for about a century and a half. In addition to this is the dreadful loss of prestige the uptimers suffered when the Black Death was let loose. So Norway is undergoing a similar development to that of OTL England, although for different reasons: In England, Parliament gained power because the kings needed its power of the purse for their continental wars, in Norway it already had the power because it consisted of the landowners whose militia were the real military strength if it came to a showdown. That might not be true anymore, the regulars have gotten a lot stronger lately, but by now the tradition is well set and the King is first among equals and not a hereditary position anyway.

In geographical Norway, meanwhile, there is a quiet little rebellion going on. The uptime Ynglings have spent about 150 years improving the breed up there in the mountains, and they’ve got results, too. (Notice that six to seven generations is way longer than anyone in OTL has ever run eugenics experiments on humans, unless you count some of the wackier ideas about what led to the Industrial Revolution.) The average farmer in the upland valleys is about 10% stronger, faster, and smarter than the average human elsewhere. He also eats more. Which is why the Ynglings are diversifying back into politics. They had rather a bad scare during the blockade-caused famines of the War of the Baltic League, which hit harder in upland Norway than anywhere else, and killed off a good third of their valuable breeding stock. Within limits, this just creates additional selection pressure and is therefore a good thing, since the uptimers can to a considerable extent control who gets what little food there is, and therefore who dies. But there are limits. They don’t want that to happen again, so they are Taking Steps to ensure they’ll have control of the Norwegian coastline in the future. Thus, German and Prussian bureaucrats are being killed here and there, German landowners find their livestock has a mysterious tendency to escape stoutly-built walls, German merchants find that the probability of a warehouse fire or large theft is unusually large, and generally speaking it is hard to justify the rule of Norway and Sweden in any cost-benefit analysis.

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