The Great Game: Imperial Administration

Returning to the first Yngling timeline, I respond to questions about the administration of the Yngling state.

Now, about the administration, it’s a bit of a mish-mash, and depends on when the area in question was added to the Realm. In Scandinavia proper – the area that was conquered first – the Ynglings basically took over the old regional Tings, which still exist – now with only Yngling representation, but they’ve sat continuously since Viking times. Now that all Norse (I think it’s pretty useless to divide the North Germanic ethnic group into Norwegian, Dane and Swede, after seven hundred years of the important distinction being Yngling or stril, so I just call them all Norse) have the vote, this area looks reasonably like a modern democracy, although with a particularly belligerent and imperialistic electorate. Local administration is done by the regional Tings, corresponding roughly to Norwegian fylker and Swedish län in our timeline; cities, towns, and rural districts also send representatives to the Storting in Bergen, which sets taxes, decides on foreign policy, and elects the King.

The Baltic and Russia were conquered while the Ynglings could still reasonably be referred to as a family, being less than a thousand in number; thus, they just took over the feudal privileges of the old ruling classes, the boyars and whatnot. Of course, you can’t very well run a modern state on that basis; so what you have is a fourfold split: The Ynglings have local gatherings, which they call Tings, but are not recognised as such in Norwegian law; these deal with whatever local disputes crop up among the Ynglings. The descendants of the old barons still have their ancient privilege of keeping large private armies, dating to the times when these were frontier areas that needed to be defended against Polish raids (not to mention raiding a bit themselves – profit is where you find it), but these days it doesn’t amount to any more than being in command of the regional militia. Which, while tough and well-trained, doesn’t have the heavy equipment to fight modern wars, so it’s a bit of an anachronism. Real defense is provided by the regular hird, and command of that is in the gift of the OYH, Overkommando Ynglinga Hird, based in Bergen and answering to the King. Finally, there’s a bureaucracy to deal with the strils, which doesn’t have a central node as such; it just sort of growed, as one regulation and agency after another was layered on through the centuries. It is prevented from stiffening into complete rigor mortis by the custom of the duel; an agency that doesn’t implement orders from home (and to some extent the local Tings) will find its chiefs challenged by the very best professional duelists the local grandees can hire. Conversely, though, if a local Ting should be too obstreperous, it’ll find that its strils are suddenly given dispensation to do all kinds of things they don’t like – move elsewhere (and trained manpower is always in demand, in Norway), join the army, marry into the Yngling class (for the veterans). Checks and balances, Viking style!

Next are the Norwegian parts of Germany, fairly recently re-conquered. These have no local Yngling squirearchy or militia, having been re-settled in an industrial age; instead, there is a large group of managers and factory owners, who don’t expect to live there permanently and thus need no permanent structure of local administration. Problems are instead referred to the regular army, whose command structure is again appointed from Bergen. Also, here there are no surviving feudal privileges for the strils, and the bureaucracy is much more streamlined, having been imposed over a much shorter period. This is a good thing for the productivity of the local economy, but does nothing for the welfare of the strils. Germany is a conquered and occupied land, not a place for settlement.

The American colonies are of two kinds: Those settled by Norwegians, and those conquered from other colonial empires. The administration of the first sort is much like that of Russia, without the complication of feudal leftovers, since the Amerindians had no such structure and what they did have was smashed rather than taken over. So there are local Tings with a self-defense militia and a large amount of autonomy, and a regular army commander appointed in Bergen – who will nonetheless listen to the locals if he knows what’s good for his supply-line. The strils here are of two kinds. There was considerable emigration from Norway even among the underclass, back in the old days before the restrictions on personal mobility came down. In a man-hungry land, these managed, by banding together, using their economic power, and occasional bits of outright fighting, to maintain a precarious position as the most privileged strils anywhere in the Realm; a middle class of freeholders and even small-scale traders. Then there are actual slaves, imported from Africa to work the cotton plantations; they are just as badly off as those of our timeline, and there is no abolitionist movement in this Norway. In those parts of America conquered from other empires, the situation is much as in Germany: An occupation economy run by the army. Unlike in Germany, though, the white ruling class here was largely managed to get out of the way, bringing their possessions and a seething hatred of all things Yngling to the rest of their colonial empires; so you get a thin crust of Yngling managers backed by the army, over a thick mass of Indians and Africans.

Finally, we have the African colonies; in theory they are colonies of settlement, but in actual practice they are ongoing, low-level civil wars. Yngling plantations are fortified settlements, and the army runs regular kill-sweeps through the jungle in retaliation for native raids. There just aren’t enough Yngling settlers to really pacify the area, especially since somebody keeps shipping in modern arms. But it does make a splendid place to blood new recruits and give them some experience of fighting without exposing them to too much danger.

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