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Alex Kamal

First Lieutenant
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Nov 4, 2012
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On July 18, 1486, Christopher Columbus departed from his home city of Genoa with two ships, the caravels Madonna and San Vincente, on a mission to discover a new trade route from Europe to the Orient.

Instead, he would discover a whole new world. One that would not be ruled by the mighty kings like those in England, France, or Spain, but by the merchant powers. Not long after Columbus charted the coast of Colombia and Central America, the Venetians sent Amerigo Vespucci, who discovered the great islands of the Caribbean. And the Hanseatic League sent Johan Kabot further north, where they rediscovered Greenland and Vinland before settling the great cities of Flutburg, Johanstadt, and Sternhafen.

The Hansa soon established a solid trading relationship with the Haudenosaunee Confederation. The Confederation was far enough inland to not be threatened by Hanseatic expansion, and soon found its military power magnified by the introduction of European weapons. The Hansa, for their part, were making a small fortune off of the fur trade. The Hansa had a policy of dealing fairly with the Haudenosaunee, and the two came to trust one another.

In 1622, this friendship would change history forever.



March 3, 1622

Great Lodge of the Haudenosaunee, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederation

The Great Lodge was packed. This wasn't unusual, but many people had crowded in to see the delegation. Normally, a visit by envoys from the Hanseatic League wouldn't attract any attention. But this was the first time - ever - that the Chief of the Hansa himself had come to visit. From what Dawn Speaker recalled, the Chief of the Hansa lived in distant Europe, on the other side of the vast Atlantic Ocean. If he had come all this way to meet with the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee, he must have had something important to say.

All of the 56 sachems were present, as well as many of the clan mothers, who held the real power. There were quite a few onlookers, and at least half of those present had children with them. They sat against the walls, often with their children in their laps. As the chosen speaker for the Grand Council, Dawn Speaker sat close to the central firepit. He was the senior sachem for the Mohawk Nation, which was closest to the Hanseatic cities and had the most dealings with them. Perhaps most importantly, he spoke German fluently. To his right was the senior sachem from the Onondaga, the traditional keepers of the central flame. Old Smoke was an old man with a thin, weathered face. He had an extremely prominent nose that had long been the source of jokes, most of which he had come up with.

Across the fire sat the Chief of the Hansa, Alexander Rosenbaum. He was surprisingly young, no more than forty, with short black hair and the pale skin of his people. Rosenbaum wore a leather vest over a cloth shirt, and a silver cross hung from a thin chain around his neck. He had come in wearing a fur hat, but he had removed it after sitting. His wife sat by his side. Around him sat the other Hanseatic delegates - a elderly minister with piercing blue eyes, and a tough-looking soldier with a thick black beard.

What truly baffled Dawn Speaker was that he knew Rosenbaum. The man was a respected and wealthy trader from Sternhafen, one of the three major Hanseatic cities in the Americas. For that matter, like many of the Hansa, he was a distant cousin of Dawn Speaker - his maternal grandfather had been a Mohawk hunter who had married a white woman he had rescued from some wolves. When did he become Chief of the Hansa?

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me," Rosenbaum said, gesturing to indicate that he was addressing the entire Council. Not to any great surprise, he spoke Mohawk, although with a definite Hanseatic accent. "I come before you at a time of great need."

"The Hansa have long been our friends," Dawn Speaker replied. It was true. The arrival of the first Hanseatic colonists nearly a century ago had proved a great boon to the Haudenosaunee. The Hansa had been fair and honest traders, and the tools and weapons they exchanged for furs had made the Federation into a great power. Unlike some white men, like the Venetian missionaries from the south, they had treated the Haudenosaunee fairly. And over the years, they had grown closer in many ways. Alexander Rosenbaum was not the only man of mixed ancestry on either side. "If we can aid you, we shall." If the clan mothers approve, of course.

Rosenbaum smiled. Then his face turned grim. "A few weeks ago," he said in an emotionless tone, "we received terrible news from Europe. Our home cities there - Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen - have been attacked by the Teutonic Order. Lübeck and Hamburg have fallen, and Bremen is under siege. In fact, it is most likely that Bremen has fallen as well since the ship which brought this news left Europe."

Gasps went around the room. Nearly everyone knew that the Hansa came from three great cities in Europe. But if their home cities were under attack? What would that mean?

"Why has this 'Teutonic Order' attacked you?" one sachem asked.

"They object to our religious practices," the minister explained. "They are Christians like us, true, but they believe that our ways are... incorrect." He blushed, probably realizing how silly it sounded. The Haudenosaunee had no experience of religious war.

"With the fall of our home cities, it was decided that we would have to rule ourselves. In accordance with our laws, the cities of Sternhafen, Johanstadt, and Flutburg elected me as the new Syndic - the Chief of the Hansa. We were debating what to do next, when another ship arrived."

He produced a scroll from his coat, and unrolled it.

"This ship brought a decree from the Teutonic Order. The Hanseatic cities are now part of their territory, and they demand that the cities here accept their authority as well. If we do not, they will send troops across the ocean to subdue us by force."

As Dawn Speaker tried to process the meaning of the words, Rosenbaum passed him the scroll. The language was very formal, and included a lot of religious phrases he didn't understand, but Rosenbaum had provided a good summary. A hostile nation had invaded and conquered the Hanseatic cities in Europe, and now intended to do the same to those here in the New World.

Dawn Speaker looked back at Rosenbaum. "Why have you come here? You should be preparing yourselves for war."

Rosenbaum nodded ever so slightly. "We have been. But we do not believe we have the numbers to stand alone against the Teutonic Order. And I should tell you that should the Teutons defeat and subjugate us, they will then seek to do the same to you."

Old Smoke's eyes widened. "You suggest an alliance - that we should fight together?"

"More than that," Rosenbaum replied. "While we might defeat the Teutons together as allies, it would not be the last threat either the Hansa or the Haudenosaunee would face together. We need your numbers. You need our weapons." He then took a deep breath, speaking the next words in a monotone:

"If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace and make known their disposition to the Lords of the Confederation, they may trace the Roots to the Tree and if their minds are clean and they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Great Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves."

Dawn Speaker's jaw dropped. It was one thing for a white man to speak their tongue. It was another for him to be able to quote from the Law of the Great Peace. And his meaning was clear.

"You... you wish to take shelter?" Dawn Speaker asked.

Rosenbaum nodded. "We do. While we are white men, most of us were born here. This is our homeland. We know you better than we do any of the European tribes. And as the elected Syndic of the Hanseatic League, I formally request that the Hansa become the Sixth Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederation. We wish to send our own people to join the Great Council, and we promise to uphold the Law of the Great Peace."

Dawn Speaker's mind was still reeling. The section of the Law that Rosenbaum had quoted had been invoked before, although generally by individuals. There were a few small tribes that had been absorbed into one of the Five Nations. But never before had an entire nation with the size and power of the Hansa sought to join.

"Our... our peoples are so different," Dawn Speaker said slowly. "Different languages, different customs..."

Rosenbaum held up a hand. "There are differences among the Five Nations, are there not? Not so great as those between you and the Hansa, but it is a matter of degrees." He held a hand to his chest. "We are more like you than you realize. The Hanseatic League is an alliance of cities, each of which is something like a nation unto itself, managing its own affairs, but working with the others for the common good. Originally, it was Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen. Some, like Danzig and Mecklenburg, joined and left. Since we arrived here, we have added the new cities - Sternhafen, Johansstadt, and Flutburg - to our ranks."

He took another deep breath, the kind taken before saying something uncomfortable. "And there has for some time been an idea that we might one day persuade the Five Nations - in part or as a whole - to join as well."

Old Smoke's nostrils flared. "You sought to take our lands! How dare you!"

Rosenbaum shook his head, maintaining his composure. "No, nothing like that. I will admit that much of our reason was to secure greater access to the fur trade. But we would not have taken your lands. We would have made you part of us. You would have been represented at the Hansetag, our Great Council. Now it seems the reverse is to happen. Instead of you joining us, we will join you."

Dawn Speaker gave Rosenbaum a humorless smile. "And what if we refuse your offer?"

Rosenbaum's expression changed. For a moment, it was one of great fear. Dawn Speaker realized that the man had let his real emotions show. He is terrified that we will refuse him. He believes this is the only way to save his people.

Dawn Speaker knew how other Europeans had treated the natives. Among those who had taken shelter under the Great Tree were the remnants of the Tuscuroa, fleeing north from the Venetian invaders. Some had even come aboard Hanseatic ships that sailed between Sternhafen and Nova Illyria. If this Teutonic Order had conquered the Hansa, surely they would be no kinder to "savages".
If Rosenbaum was right, this might be the only way to save the Haudenosaunee as well.
Dawn Speaker could not make policy for the Confederacy. Any decision made here would have to be ratified by the Clan Mothers and the men of the tribes. But he could make a statement, and he doubted that the people would fail to ratify something like this.
He rose, and Rosenbaum did the same. Slowly, Dawn Speaker stretched his right hand over the fire to Rosenbaum in the European style.
"If you and your people will accept the Law of the Great Peace, then I believe you will be welcome here."
Rosenbaum took Dawn Speaker's hand in his own. Then, in a gesture Dawn Speaker had never seen before, he clasped Dawn Speaker's forearm. "Thank you... brother."

The process was not as smooth as some had hoped. Many among the Hansa resisted the change. A few decided to leave, mostly going to Vinland, some returning to Europe. But most stayed, recognizing that their lives would not change drastically beyond what the loss of their home colonies had done.

Among the Haudenosaunee, many were concerned about bringing a new nation into their ranks. They were concerned that the Hansa would not be faithful to the Law of the Great Peace. But Rosenbaum had promised that they would, and the Hansa were known for keeping their word.

On June 12, 1622, Alexander Rosenbaum and six other men were made Confederate Lords, representing the Hanseatic Nation at the Great Council. They sent a message to Europe proclaiming this fact and claiming sovereignty over the remaining Hanseatic merchant Enclaves in Europe. In response, the Teutonic Order declared its intent to invade the New World and subjugate both the rebellious Hansa and their native allies.



May 1, 1623

Long Island, Hansa Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederation

Captain Heinrich Brüklein peered through the spyglass. The Teutonic Order had landed its troops on the southern shore of the island, just north of Sternhafen itself. They had met no resistance apart from a few cannonballs fired from Sternhafen's batteries. They had landed in the afternoon, and would likely assault the city tomorrow. Already, he could see them setting up their massive cannons, possibly the same cannons which had breached the walls of Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen. Their ships waited offshore, between Manahat and Long Island.

Just where he wanted them.

The Teutons might be brave warriors, but they were extremely stupid. They had declared their "Sternhafen Crusade" nearly a year ago, taking the time to raise support and manpower before setting off for the New World. What they hadn't grasped was that even with the fall of the German cities, there were still many Hanseatic trading posts in Europe. Some had accepted Teutonic authority, but those in Protestant nations like France, Holland, or Scandinavia had given their allegiance to Sternhafen - and, by extension, to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. So the Hansa had known for months exactly where the Teutons were going to attack.

The Teutons also hadn't realized that most of the Hanseatic Navy had escaped the fall of their cities and fled to the New World. True, the Teutons had brought more and heavier ships, and probably could have defeated the Hansa in a straight-up fight. Which was why the fleet had anchored off of Staten Island and deliberately let the Teutons sail right up the Ostflut and land. As Sternhafen lay at the southern tip of Manahat Island, a landing to the north was the only logical place to go if one wished to assault the city. But now they were trapped. To the southwest lay Sternhafen itself... and to the northeast, camped among the Green Heights, lay the Confederate army. All of the Six Nations were represented. Seneca. Oneida. Onondaga. Cayuga. Mohawk. Hansa.

The Teutons had shown that they weren't entirely stupid. One of their artillery batteries had set up on the heights at the west end of Long Island, overlooking where the Ostflut flowed into the Bay of Stars. But all of their attention was focused on Sternhafen itself. A rider had reported the Teutonic landing on Long Island, and Brüklein's party had come across in canoes before marching up along the length of the island.

Brüklein turned to examine his men. They were evenly divided between natives and Europeans. The native warriors were mostly Seneca. Their leader, Walks In Night, had handpicked them. They were veterans of the wars against the tribes inhabiting the Ohio River Valley, expert ambushers. The Hansa were Brüklein's own artillerymen. It felt strange to be sneaking around, but few of the natives knew how to operate a cannon.

"It is time," Walks In Night whispered sharply. He drew his bow, and the other natives followed suit. Most of the natives used muskets now, but Brüklein could understand the advantages of bows. Bows made little sound and could be fired faster.

As one, the Seneca fired. Their arrows sailed through the air with barely a whisper, before driving themselves into the unfortunate Teutonic gunners. Not all of them were killed by the first volley. But only a few survived the second. Some screamed in agony, others shouted for help.

"Advance!" Brüklein ordered. The Hansa and Seneca charged out of the brush towards the Teutonic battery. The Seneca warriors, now wielding tomahawks and clubs, quickly dispatched the few survivors. Brüklein wasted no time appraising his captured guns. Thanks to their native allies, the Hansa had captured the guns intact. And with the rest of the army on Manahat, the first sign the Teutons would have that the battery was in Hanseatic hands would be when it opened fire on them.



Staten Island, Hansa Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederation

Commodore Viktor Pollnau lightly drummed his fingers on the rail. He hated waiting. Especially when he would then have to move quickly once the signal was given. He wished there was a way he could see what was happening on the other side of the bay. But alas, he had to wait.

He turned his attention to the other ships of his fleet. Most, like his own Seewolf, were frigates that had escaped the fall of Lübeck and Hamburg. The Atlantic crossing had been hard, and some of his ships had decided to seek service with the Danish or French navies. But he was here, and while he knew he could not drive the Teutons from his home city, he could at least savor the pleasure of smashing the so-called Sternhafen Crusade.

"Commodore!" a lieutenant called, bringing Pollnau's reverie to a halt. He turned to the fresh-faced young officer. "Riders report that the fireships have reached the Teutonic fleet!"

Pollnau grinned. It was time. "Excellent, lieutenant!" He raised his voice for all to hear. "Set sail, men!" The air was soon filled with the sounds of rippling canvas and officers shouting orders as the Seewolf got underway. The other ships followed suit, a line of twenty frigates sailing east. The wind could be better, but at least it was there.

As his fleet cleared Staten Island, Pollnau stepped onto the poop deck and peered through a telescope. He could see several of the Teutonic ships trying to escape the Ostflut. Behind them, he saw several ships on fire, including at least one of the fireships that had been sent to drift down the Ostflut and scatter the enemy fleet. He couldn't have taken them in a straight-up fight, but now they would be disorganized. And they had no idea he was even here.

One ship - a big galleon with a black cross emblazoned on its sails - began to turn rather sharply. They'd seen him. The ship had barely cleared the mouth of the Ostflut, and turning around would only create more panic and congestion. Dimly, he could hear Brüklein's captured batteries firing on those same ships. It was an absolute nightmare for the enemy. Which was exactly what the Hansa wanted. They didn't want the Teutons to run, they wanted them destroyed, smashed so completely the Order would never contemplate a second attempt. He feared what might happen if they actually used their brains - say, if they tried to build up a force in Nova Illyria and march north rather than sailing directly from Europe.

"Load cannons!" he shouted, seeing that another Teutonic ship was closing in on him. It wouldn't be long before they were in range. The Bay of Stars would soon become the graveyard for the largest fleet the Order had ever assembled.



Manahat Island, Hansa Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederation


A bright flash of orange light came from the south. Dawn Speaker smiled at the sight of another fireship exploding amongst the Teutonic fleet. The fireships had come downriver from the north, and were quickly panicking the Teutons. Caught in such a narrow body of water, the only course for the Teutons would be to flee south, towards the Bay of Stars, where they would quickly be slaughtered by Commodore Pollnau's fleet and Major Brüklein's guns.

Dawn Speaker rose from where he had been crouching and turned to Runs Like A Hawk, one of his best messengers. "Please inform Colonel Schieffler that he may open fire on the enemy camp."

The messenger nodded and dashed off. Dawn Speaker had commanded men in war before, but never had he had European artillery at his disposal. He and the other sachems - including Rosenbaum - had devised a truly masterful strategy. It was an ambush writ large. The Teutons had landed exactly where the Hansa said they would, and now they were trapped. And the army they had landed was paltry, barely 2,500 men. And their artillery was all aimed at Sternhafen. Their northern flank was guarded solely by a wooden fence.

The Teutonic army had no idea that they had fallen into a trap. They had presumed that any Hanseatic army would be garrisoned in Sternhafen. And there was no way for the commander, Grossmeister Stanislav, to know that his naval contingent was being wiped out. He hadn't had time to erect any defenses beyond a simple fence to keep out raiders.

Stanislav never actually found out about his mistake. As it happened, he was inspecting the northern defenses when a cannonball cut him in half. More cannon fire tore apart the fence, along with the men manning it. Mortar shells exploded throughout the camp, panicking and killing men and horses alike. Some of those shells were incendiaries, and the fires they started illuminated the camp.

A few minutes later, the signal came to attack. But it was not a message, or a flare, but a song. The War Song of the Haudenosaunee. As War Chief of the Confederate Army, it was the duty of Dawn Speaker to begin it. Soon, everyone had joined in:

Now I am greatly surprised
And, therefore I shall use it --
The power of my War Song.

I am of the Six Nations.
And I shall make supplication.
To the Almighty Creator.
He has furnished this army.
My warriors shall be mighty
In the strength of the Creator.
Between Him and my song they are
For it was He who gave the song
This war song that I sing!


The army charged as one. A tidal wave of men sweeping down from the heights. This was not a time for the slow, deliberate movements of European armies, but for the kind of fast ambush the natives excelled at. The totally unexpected bombardment had left the Teutons in total disarray, unable to mount any kind of organized defense.

As the Haudenosaunee swept through the camp, some of the officers were able to organize the troops in their vicinity. But it was not enough. Those who stood their ground were either shot or hacked to pieces. More men fled towards Sternhafen, only to be gunned down by the troops defending the city. And many more simply surrendered.



With their invasion force effectively wiped out, the Teutonic Order could do little to respond. There was no question of sending a second army. Indeed, not long after the reports of the battle had reached Europe, the Protestant powers began lining up to support the Confederation. Denmark and France both sent ambassadors to Onondaga. The remaining Hanseatic trading posts now flew the Confederate flag alongside their own.

After the threat of European conquest subsided, the Confederation faced the difficulty of integrating the Hansa into the native culture. That the natives would be the dominant culture was a simple matter of numbers. But the century of good relations proved a good basis for this integration. As often, it was the children who would ultimately see the integration through. They developed the Hanseatic language, a creole of German and Mohawk. And eventually, they would make the Haudenosaunee Confederation into the preeminent power in the New World.



In actual history:
Christopher Columbus was rejected by the Genoese in 1486. He shopped around for a while before finally getting funding from the Spanish Crown in 1492. Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Holland were the major colonial powers. None of the merchant republics ever colonized the New World. The Hanseatic League became essentially defunct by the end of the 17th century. The colonies mentioned here were eventually founded, but under different names. Flutburg is Quebec City, Johansstadt is Boston, Nova Illyria is the Carolinas, Vinland is Labrador and Nova Scotia, and Sternhafen is New York.