The Political Landscape of Albion
The Duchy of Charnwood exists in ‘some kind of an imaginary Britain’, sometime in the 1760s. This ersatz Britain is known to its continental cousins as being the island of Albion. It is a land rich in resources with a large population and a distinctive commercial culture but which remains hopelessly mired in a complex and heavily fractured political landscape.
Being on the periphery of Europe’s mainstream politics, science, fashion and commerce, Albion’s nations are considered to be something of a cultural backwater. Attempts by other European countries to pull them into the orbit of mutually beneficial treaties and trade agreements have always been thwarted by the islanders entrenched xenophobic and isolationist attitudes towards all ‘continentals’. This obtuse pervading attitude is known to Europeans as ‘Brekschidt‘. It is so-named after the small and little-known German Principality of Breckschidt whose prince was once scandalously and unceremoniously tied to a small skiff and was pushed firmly back out across the channel by a mob of commoners in the Margraviate of Tunbridge Wells (all this apparently being simply on account of his obdurate refusal to lose his funny accent)!
The Duchy of Charnwood is but a single part of a loose affiliation of similar micro-states which are collectively referred to as The League of Mercia. The Mercian states occasionally coalesce as a single force to counter threats from other similar Albion coalitions, each one usually being under the sway of a dominant nation or ruler. Other ‘leagues’ within the island of Albion are: Alba and Scotia (in Scotland); Powys and Cymru (in Wales); Northumbria, Medway, Wessex and Anglia (together with Mercia) in England. However, as soon as any external existential threat is dealt with, all the formerly allied micro-states get right back to feuding with each other.
Very occasionally, a majority of Albion will fight as a single entity when faced against continental threats. Decades ago, Albion famously formed a single cohesive force in the war against the mighty Austrian Emperor Adolfus Hilta, after initial setbacks the Albionian army finally destroyed the Imperial forces at the climactic ‘Battle of Wasser-Klo’. Defeating Hilta and liberating much of Europe is a source of very great pride to Albion’s people. It was a battle in which the Albionians only grudgingly admit their armies were assisted by Russia and some colonists from the Americas, amongst others. Rather than draw them together to play a greater role in European affairs, the consequence was to reaffirm an innate sense of pompous superiority over the continentals and to isolate them even further.
Consequent to being an island of squabbling micro-states, the nations of Albion are considered somewhat culturally retarded in the fields of fashion, music and art, being usually a step behind prevailing European tastes. “En peu Albionais‘ is a common French insult to anything considered outdated or old-fashioned.
Other nations in Europe are ever keen to seek advantages or exploit divisions between the micro-nations of Albion and, as such, Albion remains divided and constantly at war.
The near-constant presence of large and small-scale warfare across the island of Albion has, however, ensured that its experienced armies are considered amongst the most effective in Europe and Albion’s soldiers are much sought after as mercenaries.
Likewise, its armies are occasionally hired by wealthy European nations to take part in wars which are often of no concern to any Albion state. Such mercenary activity has enabled most states to develop warfare into something resembling an industry. Smart uniforms and well-drilled troops can make armies appear that bit more attractive and effective to any other nations seeking to hire some troops for their next campaign season. Indeed, the Duchy of Charnwood has grown wealthy in recent decades from such activity.
This chronicle finds His Grace the Duke of Charnwood in the business of re-equipping his regiments to make them more attractive to other nations seeking to hire mercenary armies.
Charnwood: The Local Situation
Neighbouring states to the Duchy of Charnwood include reliable allies such as the Marquisate of Bosworth; neutral or unreliable states such as the Bishopric of Cannock or the Landgraviate of Warwick; and potentially hostile rivals such as the hated Electorate of Belvoir. The Duke of Charnwood is related by marriage to the Marquis of Bosworth, hence their long-standing close ties and cordiality.
A lengthy dispute over the ownership of a triangle of fertile farming territory in Rutland is at the heart of ongoing hostility between our noble Duke and the perfidious Elector of Belvoir…