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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
World Update #1: The World of 1444 AD
  • dragoon9105

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    The world of 1444 AD.

    So Welcome to Into the West, The Last World update was when we finished Ck2 in 1424, however, like always I've made some changes in the timelapse. Now Disclaimer, some of these screenshots are not exactly correct (I salvaged a few from my testsave as in the actual run apparently I neglected to take things like a Culture screenshot, When we get to incorrect screenshots I will specify)

    This is the World of 1444, The Cathayan Empire is Shattered and Divided, the Middle Eastern Empires are struggling with insane amounts of unrest due to unruly but powerful vassals and the Empire of Rajastan and Ming China both stand strong as the World's dominant powers. The Mongols are in decline and making way to the Rus and Persia both waiting for opportunity to bite into the decaying horde.


    Starting in Britain, we have Three major powers, The Kingdom of Ireland, the Kingdom of Albion(England) and the Kingdom of Caledon(Scotland) The Weakest of the Three is Caledon which is divided between it's powerful vassals, the clans of Albany, Galloway and Gaeldom. The Fourth power in the Isles is Wales which is strong and centralized compared to Scotland but far weaker than it's three bigger cousins. Britain has a long history of being dominated by the English in Albion and the Welsh next door, however with Ireland unified and strong, a powerful counterweight to English dominance now exists and may serve to keep the Isles divided for years if not centuries.​


    First, Forgive the Border gore, this is Scandinavia and not the final screenshot of what it actually looks like in the save were using. However this is after I did my first pass at cleaning up some conversion mess, (Bohemia owned random bits as well as poland in Sweden for example). The Dominant powers here are clear, Sweden and Norway are both unified(mostly) and powerful with Sweden being the dominant partner. However the Hanseatic Republic. once the overlord of all of scandinavia still owns colonies throughout the North Sea and Baltic And is the overlord of Holstein has considerably influence over its offspring, and should the Scandinavians find themselves in Crisis the old republic may return.​


    Coming south to Spain we have a divided peninsula primarily controlled by the Kingdom of Andalusia. The Rich coastal regions of Northern and Western Spain are controlled by other powers however, the strongest of which, The Knight's of Santiago, control Morocco. Catalonia, Sevilla and Navarra are all small but independent as well and could serve to use any weakness in Andalucia to try and reach prominence themselves. Though at the Moment it certainly seems that Al Andalus while now Zunist will once again be formed.​


    In the Crusader Kings Era, Great Aegyptia, controlled all of Ethiopia, Egypt and large parts of Arabia. However underneath the surface it was a paper tiger controlled primarily by the King of Egypt. Twenty Years later tensions have led to an egypt now pursuing its own destiny and thus the Empire about to be thrown into Crisis.​


    The Order of the day across most of the Middle East remains the same, the Old Empires are rotting away from within and are about to effectively Explode. Rajastan struggles with the Prince of Punjab, The Latin Empire faces a Pretender in Jerusalem and Mesopotamia faces down with the Shah of Kermanshah. Persia stands alone as the single unified state in the Middle East and could serve to use the coming war as an excuse to once again reclaim it's dominant position in the region. This screenshot as well is not actual, I went in and removed alot of the Exclaves and such to make the borders more coherent.​


    To the North Lies the Decaying Mongol Empire. Once feared the world over the Mongols have been run out of China by the Ming, send north by Rajasthan and driven from Russia by the Rus. Now only with their traditional lands remaining the Mongolians stand at a crossroads Reform, and once again use their superior position in Asia to strike whenever their enemies are weak, Or Die to the growing powers of Ming, Persia and Rus.​


    Speaking of Rus, its about time we said hello. Russia, is the new kid on the Block, having spent most of Ck2 divided and Pagan Russia Zunized and quickly unified under a confederation of Northern Russian Princes. After having run the Steppe peoples from Northern Crimea Russia is now in an ideal position to unify the lands between the Carpathians and the Rurals and truly become a world power, but of course enemies are everywhere, the Hansa would never support such a Russian Empire, Trebizond controls the Black Sea and of course mighty Persia hangs like a Vulture ready to swoop down on the Rus once the Mongols have been swept away.​


    In Italy the Balance of power is much less clear cut. The Latin Empire is the strongest on Paper but has massive internal issues at the moment. Ferrara and Sicily are powerful states as well and are fierce rivals coming for control of Rome and the Peninsula as a whole. Sicily, being greek has extensive control over Croatia and much of the Adriatic but poor relations with the Bohemians to the North who consider Carpathia a rightful territory of the Bohemian Crown. Ferrara, the weaker of the two had a more centralized empire, but has to contend with Bavaria encroaching on Venice, and several independent Italian Princedoms who would like nothing more than to break apart the Ferraran Kingdom so they can rule their petty cities in peace.​


    In Eastern Europe Bohemia, Trebizond, Lithuania and Poland(Who is the overlord of Silesia) are the major powers. However something to note is things are not as divided or touch and go as it seems. Trebizond is mostly interested in claiming it's black sea territories from the Latin Empire and Poland is on the cusp of an interregnum as the oldest living relative of the Polish King is Jaromir Anniona, King of Bohemia and brother to the Wife of Poland. Should an heir fail to be produced a Third Bohemian Empire may very well grace the fields of Europe.


    In central Europe we have entered the Caetye lands of Yore. Germany, long a powerful and Local prince of the Empire now stands as an independent King among many rivals. The Anniona's of Bavaria and the Exiled Realm of Denmark remain the primary rivals of the German Monarchy, Of course the Princes of Brunswick and Lorraine also do not plan to bow quietly. Germany is indeed a Tinderbox and should the Germans fail to unify their lands outside Powers such as Ferrara, Cathay and Bohemia could very well divide up the German people between themselves.​


    Last but not least we have Western Europe. The order of the day here is much the same as we left it, The Vestigial Empire of Cathay rules over the rich Heartlands of the former Empire, Rivaled by the Kingdom of Avalon to it's immediate west. The Homeland of the Hanseatic Republic lies to the North of Cathay. Beyond the three major powers a multitude of French Princes dominate Burgundy and Aquitaine meaning that whoever could win the coming wars in the North may have free reign to reunify the lands North of the Pyrenees into a new Empire, One prepared for the Modern Age.​


    This is the Religious map of Europe and a good opportunity to provide some Context. This is a Europe unified in Religion, wholesale. Everything save the Heretics in Spain and small pagan communities in Northern Russia follows the Fourth Faith including the Mongols who brought the faith with them to much of Northern Asia. In Eu4, I have modded Zunism to use Confucian Mechanics. However, The Faith being unified should be taken with a grain of Salt. The People of Cathay have far different practices than the People of the Mongol Empire and the only true unifying thread between the Zunist faithful is the 'Reflections' a List of tolerated and accepted beliefs housed as of 1444 in a Monastery in the Cathayan Capital.

    Because of this Religion plays a highly variable role between states and the general rule of Thumb is, as you go East, Zunism is less like Christianity and more Like Islam or Buddhism. In Western Europe however the Christian Influence is almost overpowering to the point where the AAR will use Christian and Zunist interchangeably, though there is a definitive difference between the two.​


    The Culture Map of Europe, I will note this is also a bad Screenshot. All of the Khitan Provinces as well as some of the cultural mess in Anatolia I have cleaned up in the actual save. Similarly, I broke up the German Cultures by region and also let them encroach a bit more on the Rhineland.

    Incase your Curious, Khitan ingame is a British Culture, primarily so it makes naming things more convenient but also becuase rather than Normans having conquered England, in this world it was the Khitan, and so 'English' is an amalgam of Anglo Saxon, Celtic and Khitan instead of Norse-Latin.​



    Next Update the story will begin in Earnest. Until that Point, Happy New Year.​




     
    Chapter 1: The Sun Rises
  • dragoon9105

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    Chapter 1: The Sun Rises

    The Year was now 1444. Over the past Decades the world has recovered from the collapse of the Cathayan Empire. Uther the Hammer, the first Prince of the Crownlands had managed to reclamation of Luxembourg and Paris, Thus ensuring that the Imperial Remnant would not drift away. Uther would of course also reform the administration and government of Cathay away from the decentralized Feudal system of Idris, placing more emphasis on the power of the governors over landholding nobility.

    The Reforms of 1435 Would Give Cathay its official name, as the Remnant of what was once known as the Empire of the Khitan, Romans and Franks would be formalized into simply 'The Kingdom of Cathay'. The Imperial Titles, which were one "Khan of the Khitan, Augustus of the Roman Empire, Protector of the Zunist Faith, Lord of the Franks, Germans, Romans, Britons and Norse and Defender of the Western Realms" was shortened to "King-Augustus of Cathay and Defender of the Realm" Thus the Claims on the outer territories and former subjects of the Empire were abandoned in favor of a more centralized and strong Cathay.

    Last but not least, the Dragon Banners of the Original Empire were abandoned in favor of new Heraldry. The Dragon banners were common, but for most of Europe represented a dead regime that many of the nobility would actively fight against. While the Dragons would remain present on the Coat of arms, the Official flag and Banner of Cathay would be changed to that of the Sun of the Zunist Faith, on the Black and Blue of the Old Empire.​


    The rest of the world similarly was about to change dramatically. Poland was on the Eve of a Succession Crisis, The Empires of the East were about to collapse and rising new powers in Europe would change the balance of power of the world, forever.​


    Perhaps forecasting the times to Come, Uther the Hammer's first act of 1444 was to Declare War on the Kingdom of Avalon to finalize his control of the River Sienne and Cripple the Kingdom of Cathay's largest and most dangerous rival.​


    Meanwhile Tensions in the East also reached their own boiling point as the Great Aegyptian Empire fell into civil war between the Powerful Emperor, and Sultan of Egypt. Egypt while the lesser power in rank outnumbered his Liege considerably and so held the advantage. Perhaps more concerning was that with the Great Aegyptia in Crisis, the conflict would spread as the Cascading web of alliances and understandings made between the Emperors in the Middle East now had the foundation effectively pulled out.​


    Less than a year later the Queen of Jerusalem declared herself Latin Empress putting the Latin Empire into its own civil war, Greece and Sicily also found themselves involved in short order followed by Trebizond. With the Latin-Kurdish Alliance now defunct due to civil war, the Persians invaded Mesopotamia. Practically overnight The Deserts of the Middle East had exploded in a catastrophic storm of warfare.

    Of course this also meant that the Silk Road, long the link between China, India and Europe now had been cut in half. As the Wars would grow longer, and bloodier the vital trade from the East would dry up, and already Spanish and even Irish Sailors were looking into other possibilities to circumvent the Tinderbox of the world.​


    With Chaos in the East and Cathay at war at home, Uther the Hammer quietly died in his tent in the fields outside Paris. His eldest Daughter, the Eccentric Elizabeth seized the Throne in Short order in an unceremonious affair. Elizabeth had luckily grown into the role of Crown Princess in the years of peace brought on by Uther, refining her weaknesses. While not fantastic by any Means the new Queen of Cathay was competent in all things, and helped greatly by her advisors, and considering the alternatives that Cathay had faced in the past, Elizabeth's turnaround was nothing short of a miracle.​


    With the Empire at war, Elizabeth's first action would be to designate a successor from her own Children with Prince Amice of Luxembourg. Under Cathayan Law, the Sovereign retained the right to nominate any child to the Throne, though it was rarely used. Elizabeth not one to stand on tradition chose her youngest, Diane. A woman that would soon be feared across Western Europe, simply as Diane the Terrible.​


    An important Reminder and distinction to make is that the Khitan since their days on the steppes had been more egalitarian than most peoples of their time. This was of course even Before Xiao the Eastern Wind chose to ride with her followers into the West, Conquering Persia and much of the steppes in her lifetime. Because of the Cultural and Heroic Legacy of Khitan the tradition of Absolute Succession had been a mainstay in the Caetye Bloodline for centuries, and Rulers such as Lyra the Black and Catherine the Nun, were well known for their Prowess in Battle. The rest of Europe and the lower classes in Europe for the most part retained their more traditional stances and while the Warrior Queens of Cathay were nothing new, they were still the exception rather than the rule when considering Europe as a whole.


    Under the Command of Uther's War Council, the new Crown Princess Diana, as well as General Khan Raimbaut the Armies of Cathay had managed to successfully seize territory while avoiding pitched battle with the Avalonians. However that changed at Finistere when a Welsh General by the name of LLywarch of Gwynedd took command of the Avalonian army with intent to push the Cathayans back. However the Avalonians failed to understand Llywarch was a general of some renown his experience was mainly commanding Welsh Longbowmen in the Hills of the british isles, which hardly compared to the Cavalry Centric tactics in Mainland Europe. When the two forces finally met the Avalonians attempted to skirmish with the Cathayan army only to find their center broken by a Cavalry Charge and the entire army shattered in short order after that.​


    Humiliated and utterly crushed Avalon sued for Peace ceding all of Normandy and the remains of the Sienne Coastline over to Cathay. In one fell swoop Cathay's greatest immediate threat was cowed and reduced to a power no greater than the Princedom of Poitou to it's south. However there was still work to be done, the German Situation, if left alone for too long could quickly turn in a direction that Elizabeth would find unacceptable.​


    Considered a bold move by many Elizabeth declared war on the Kingdom of Germany with intent to make a show of Cathayan power and to project influence into the Rhineland beyond the borders of Luxembourg. The problem was that King Vilfred of Germany was a man ahead of his time in terms of military skill and tactics. Germany at the time was already beginning to experiment with massed Arquebusiers and more advanced forms of Pikemen. Both of these units had been used to great affect against the Kingdom of Bavaria and had earned King Vilfred large amounts of prestige.​


    The Invasion of Germany was planned to be a similar affair to that of Avalon, strike hard and fast, strike at weak and small armies within Northern Germany and then crush the Army when the advantage was already won. At Nassau the plan was put into affect as the Northern half of the German Kingdom fell under full invasion from 30,000 Cathayan Men at arms and Cavalry.


    Germany of course was a major power in Europe, and was closely aligned with the Kingdom of Albion. However Albion at the time was quite busy with a war with the Scottish and Welsh, while also dealing with internal reorganization in the style of Uther's reforms in Cathay. For a start, Albion had been the name of the Imperial Governorate of Cathay, and so the English King had seen fit to reform his Kingdom back to it's proper title, renewing age old claims to Eastern Wales and Southern scotland.​


    Back in Europe the Germans had done what was perhaps expected by many and turned the Tide eventually after the Cathayan Manpower and reserves reached a breaking point. At berg despite a heavy numbers advantage the Cathayan army was put to route by Amadeus Balduin who used elite Arquebusiers to great effect in Berg, using the Local terrain to his advantage and panicking Cathayan Cavalry. Loses however were high and both sides, and the Northern half of the Kingdom still lay under Cathyan occupation, though neither side had the funds nor manpower to spend on continuing the war.​


    Germany, with half her country under occupation agreed to acknowledge Cathyan Superiority in exchange for a return of their lands, which ultimately was all Elizabeth really needed. It of course took tens of thousands of men to achieve such a paltry concession, but the worth was plain. The Kingdom of Cathay had proven itself, humbling the foremost martial power of Europe while seizing land for herself in the Seine. The Intermission was now officially over. The Music would now begin to play again.​
     
    Chapter 2: Renaissance Rematch
  • dragoon9105

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    Chapter 2: Renaissance Rematch

    With peace with germany signed there was silent agreement that now something needed to be done to improve Cathay's diplomatic situation. The Germans and Avalonians would surely seek powerful allies abroad and Cathay would need to do so in Kind. The Days of Great Kings and Queens standing alone against their enemies with only their personal troops and bannermen at their side was gone, Pragmatism had opened the doors to a new type of Diplomacy in Europe and Cathay would need to participate or find itself a Pariah.


    Sweden was the dominant power in Northern Europe, and thus a Natural ally against the English across the Channel as well as the Bohemians just across the Baltic. The Swedes however were not known for their martial ability, and their current ruler, King Mongol of the Xiaokhitai (Distant Cousins to the Caetye also claiming descent from Xiao) was not only disinterested but actively detrimental in terms of his military skill. Still Sweden brought numbers and a safety net and Cathay could use numbers.


    Perhaps more importantly Elizabeth reopened talks with Ferrara for terms of an Alliance. Ferrara, in recent years had found itself surrounded on 3 sides by Germany, Bavaria and Sicily all three of which were hostile to the powerful Italian Kingdom's attempts to unify the traditional crown of Lombardy. Elizabeth didn't much care if Italy was unified so far as it was not the Kingdom of Sicily that did the unification, as a Powerful Greek State unifying Traditional Roman lands would evolve into something that could threaten Traditional Gaul quite quickly.

    The Alliance of the Po was signed on the 29th of February 1449, and Diane Caetye was married to a Ferraran Prince sealing the alliance in Blood.​


    At home Elizabeth was working closely with her generals on a somewhat controversial change in army doctrine. Cathay had traditionally thrived primarily on its cavalry. However in a day of standardized pikes, primitive gunpowder weapons and increasing fortification the Traditional Swarm and Harass tactics of the Khitan had become increasingly outdated.

    However for the moment they were still effective, dramatically so and so Elizabeth's decision to switch over to a primarily Infantry focused army came as an act of complete lunacy. Thus a Schism would form within the Imperial Guard between two rival schools of combat, A Cavalry Focused army with an emphasis on mobility and terrain, and the Infantry focused wing that emphasised Shot and Pike and later cannon.


    Elizabeth's reformed would not be the only ones some wound find controversial. With the Fall of Cathay the control the Empire had on the Church across Western Europe had evaporated. Now with Chaos in the east governments, desperate to supplement the loss of Technology and Trade from India and China looked inwards. Greek and Arab refugees from the east would ultimately be the final spark that would force a reform of many of the religion and theological study practices in Europe that had previously censored and restricted scientific discovery and cultural pursuits.​


    In Spain the return of Hellenic inspired art came first followed by an entire host of cultural advancements. Most of these advancements were sponsored by the various petty Kings throughout the Peninsula as they continued to claw for an edge against one another. In Andalusia the relatively minor city of Jaen had become the Hub of this revolution as it was both out of the way of the larger and more significant and militarily important cities of Granada and Sevilla, but right along the crossroads that linked all of South Spain together.


    As spain was experiencing a wave of intellectual and cultural reform, Cathay as center of the Church was at the heart of the first of many doctrinal disputes within the Zunist church. With Uther's reforms to the Empire the question had once again arisen what exactly was the Monarch's position within the church, and their relationship to God.

    The Elephant in the room remained, Kenzai was the Fourth Faith's Profit and his nominated his twin daughters to head the Theological and Militant arms of the faith respectively. Elizabeth, being more eccentric than most many expected could be convinced to make any declaration that was decided.

    The largest and most entrenched camp was the Traditionalists, which held that Kenzai was the Prophet only, and that the High Priesthood and it's conclave reigned supreme on matters of the faith and the reflections therein, and that those respected as Emperors by the Faith could petition to expand the reflections or make doctrine changes.

    The Next largest group was the reformists, who believed that Imperial Privilege should be removed from Doctrine entirely and that the Church would serve as an independent and international entity. As a church controlled by the Whims of Mortal Men with ulterior motives would find the reflections corrupted and the people of the fourth faith led astray.

    The Last faction was the small Kenzist faction that believed the opposite of the reformists, that the Monarch had always the final say in doctrine and thus the High Priesthood should answer to the Empire first then the Conclave.​


    Enter Guillaume Dufay a Man with significant influence within both the Church and State and while he was a traditionalists had a vested interest in further marrying the two institutions together to increase his own influence but also out of loyalty to Queen Elizabeth.

    Dufay eventually would make his way to the Conclave of Priests where he would vocally push for his Reforms to the Western Church that would grant the Successors of Kenzai a Veto Power within the Church. The Justification was that so long as the Zunist Faith continued to house the reflections and protect the High Priesthood that on a simple matter of Pragmatism needed to have some degree of control over the faith it was protecting and that House Caetye as the descendants of the Prophet were the only available or trustworthy option. Effectively putting the Control over the western churches into Caetye and by proxy, Dufay's hands due to his influence in the royal court.​


    Meanwhile events were taking place in Eastern Europe that would define the Balance of Power for centuries. King Cat of Poland had finally died leaving his young wife, Queen Christine Anniona as Widow. Christine was well loved in Poland but also sister to the unmarried Jaromir of Bohemia. This meant that the Crowns of Bohemia and Poland were once again in danger of unifying and becuase of Bohemia's economic and military dominance under such a union this would mean the formation of a Third Bohemian Empire, a nation that would run from the Danube in the south to the Baltic in the North.

    Of course other possibilities existed, the Polish Sjem could vote for a Russian or Lithuanian Prince, a Local Monarch or even a distant cousin of King Cat in Scandinavia.


    That didn't happen, As expected Christine was voted Queen of Poland, and her Brother Jaromir was invited the Court. the Poles and Bohemians had once again reunified in a grand display in Prague. House Anniona between the Polish-Bohemian Union and the Crown of Bavaria now dominated central Europe, prompting open displays of defiance from the Rus in the East, Swedes in the North and Ferrara in the south.


    In Cathay, Elizabeth decided to move forward with her own plans, attacking the Hanseatic Republic for the outer dutch territories that made up thier eastern border. Elizabeth's intend was to surround the Republic effectively making it a puppet in all but name, as it's heartland would be constantly at threat to Imperial intervention and invasion. The Hansa, who had colonies throughout the Baltic could not afford such a loss to thier prestige and prepared accordingly.​


    The Day of the Mercenary however was well and truly dead. Cathayan troops, having long trained and prepared for this operation stormed into Hanseatic territory and wiped the Republican army immediately. What would come next would be the long and drawn out sieges of Holstein and other Hansa territories so that eventually Elizabeth could extract some peace from the Traders.​


    The Swedes were drawn into the war for their Navy and proximity to Hansa colonies in the Baltic and so had to be rewarded with some northern Territories they helped claim, otherwise Elizabeth extracted the lands she demanded ensuring the war was quick and as of little cost to the army as possible.​


    The War had effectively gained Cathay the Eastern side of the Lowlands closing the Hanseatic Republic inside, but also had another benefit of turning over the Fortress at Gelre to Elizabeth's control, as well as extending the border more than double. It was here Elizabeth's plans became apparent. After years of recovery and building a second around of combat with the Germans was coming this time for the upper Rhineland.



    For this end the military needed to continue to modernize, which meant Elizabeth's Infantry first strategy needed better equipment and training to serve as an effective fighting force. Standardizing the Pikes of the Infantry would be an important and crucial step. The Hiring and conscription of thousands of English Longbows as well as trainers from England were also undertaken with intend to strengthen the skirmish and ranged capabilities of the army in the face of German cannons.​


    (Incase your wondering the traditions are 10% Army Morale, 10% Goods produced)​

    Elizabeth then ensured her effort at reform would not be wasted, making official decrees and passing laws that would incentivise forward thinking above all else. If Cathay was to thrive it would need to the at the forefront of technology and reform not merely choose to modernize only when necessary.​


    The Duchy of Champagne established in Uther's the same was the next focus of Elizabeth's reforms. Champagne was small did lacked purpose within the Empire as a whole, only granted autonomy to keep Uther's conquests stable. Now with Cathay and its new form of administration had little need for the autonomous princedom and so Elizabeth incorporated the territory into the greater empire, compensating the Duke of Champagne for his lands and leaving him a smaller estate and several privileges within his dejure lands.​


    On matters of diplomacy Elizabeth once again stirred controversy, becoming the first Monarch to offer a hand in friendship to the forming Bohemian Empire. Jaromir Anniona as King of Poland and Bohemia had been struggling with internal issues that had come naturally from such a dramatic shift in administration.

    In an effort to keep the Poles happy, the late King Cat's bastard son Konrad was invited to serve as Crown Prince until such a time that Christine and Jaromir produced an heir. Konrad however needed a wife, and so Elizabeth proposed her second Eldest, Princess Lyra, considered to be much the opposite of her sister, a flighty but otherwise well loved member of the Cathayan Court.

    House Anniona of Bavaria however was nothing less than Furious. Jaromir should he die had sold the Bohemian Empire back to a Polish house and Invited the Khitan into the court of what would become the most powerful state in Europe. King Friedrich III of Bavaria in the following years would completly break his alliance with his Cousin to the North and start seeking friends elsewhere, mainly in the largest rival to the Caetye and Crown of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Sicily.​


    For the moment however, the stage was Set, Ferrara and Bohemia both had been brought into Elizabeth's web of alliances and the time had now come to end German dominance in central europe. Elizabeth sent her demands, Concessions in the alps for Ferrara, Concessions along the Elbe for King Jaromir and the return of the Rhineland to Cathay with the Crown of Sweden offering Cathay it's full support. The Germans, as expected refused and called upon their powerful ally in Sicily.​

    The Sides had been drawn, now the Second Rhineland War was about to begin.​
     
    Chapter 3: The 1st Solar League
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    Chapter 3: The 1st Solar League

    With the sides drawn the game was officially on. Cathay and Bohemia would primarily focus on the Kingdom of Germany, while Ferrara would tie down the Sicilians in the Italian boot. Well planned and prepared the expectation was that despite german military advantages that the war ultimately would be won fairly easily.


    In terms of military germany lacked in a single, crucial area. The great fortifications of the country were centered more towards the south, to defend the alps passage rather than the North. The German nobility expecting a rather easy time uniting the german princes likely did not anticipate the Rise of Cathay, nor the Bohemian Empire and so only the fortress at Wurzburg stood as a dividing line between Cathay and her allies.​


    In terms of numbers the attacking coalition held a definitive and clear advantage, however the various fronts used by what was quickly dubbed the 'Solar League' were divided and thus unable to fight as a cohesive front, Allowing the more concentrated armies and germany defeat individual forces in detail while the bulk of Cathay and Bohemia's armies were tied down in Northern Germany.​


    Back in Cathay, unrest within the Royal Palace at Antwerp had weakened the war effort and led to a small crisis within the administration. Elizabeth ever eccentric had committed wholeheartedly into sponsoring naval technology, and had notably wasted large sums of money funding explorers to search for an alternate silk road west off the edge of the world. The advisors who questions such decisions found themselves quickly out of a job if they were lucky, or in the Cells of Lyra the black if they were not.​


    The War had also led to a rather significant Iron crisis throughout the country. Sweden, the main source of Iron for much of Europe had been tied down in its own military campaigns. Weakness within the Hansa and now war in Germany had ground the Iron trade within Europe to a halt forcing local mines in Luxembourg to carry the slack. The other alternative, appealing to England across the Channel was brought up, but the English had demanded the Cathay cede over important naval technologies which Elizabeth would refuse to part with.​


    After months of campaigning in Germany Proper the German army had decided to retreat west in an attempt to seige Praha and later Link with Sicilian forces in the Balkans. While a good idea on paper, Lord General Oscar Randolph was informed of the German troop movements through Imperial loyalists and so marched for Praha to intercept. The Germans, fearing to be caught between the city and the advancing Cathayans instead opted to hold hills of Moravia in hopes of holding out long enough for sicilian reinforcements.


    Reinforcements, that ultimately would never come. The Germans would suffer a devastating defeat, effectively taking them out of the war and thus leaving the remainder of their country to be occupied by the Solar League.​


    In the Following Months, a Defeated Germany enabled Cathayan reinforcements into Italy where the Kingdom of Ferrara continued to struggle against the more Powerful Kingdom of Sicily. The occupations of Southern Ferrara and a siege of Rome was set in hopes of bullying the Sicilians out of the war and thus enabling a favorable peace against the Germans. Especially becuase ultimately the Prince of Luxembourg, under pressure from the local guilds stopped the extra Iron shipments to the capital, effectively freezing the Cathayan war effort in the Balkans. With the Empire at war Elizabeth could do nothing except make due with what remained.​


    Luckily not long after the Hanseatic Civil War had come to an end, reopening the tradelanes of the Baltic, and thus reopening the Vital Swedish Iron Trade with a nice side effect that a mutual rival of both Sweden and Cathay had collapsed under its own weight, freeing the Danish straights from the influence the Merchants in Holland.​


    In Italy, the Sicilians had decided rather than quietly bow out of the war they would in fact fight, and thus invaded Northern Italy with intent to take Ferrara. Fearful over control of Poland, the Bohemians remained cautious in the Balkans meaning that ultimately the War would be decided on Italian Fields.

    At Romagna, the Cathayan army beat back the Doux of Sicily's army, saving Ferrara from falling under seige and of course, preventing the unification of Sicily's Balkan and Italian armies.​


    In Naples, after heavy losses the Sicilians once again were beaten again, forcing the Kingdom's military presence off of the Mainland entirely.Without Southern Italy the Sicilians now found themselves under real threat, As Ferrara remained in the war, and was already making demands on Sicily, mainly control of Rome and the territory in Southern Spoleto.​


    After years of warfare the Solar League, Germany and Scily sat down and agreed upon a rather light peace all things considered. Land would be gained by all major powers save Sweden. Perhaps more significantly however was that the Second Germano-Cathayan war would effectively destroy any Chances of Germany clawing up to greatness.​


    With the war now over and Cathay finally victorious over the germans the time for Cathay's next moves was fast approaching. The core territory of Cathay, the Lowlands had been united and secured, but for the Empire to truly thrive it would need to look outwards, for allies and opportunities elsewhere, perhaps even across the great ocean in the lands of myths and legends.


     
    Chapter 4: A Kiss and a Rose
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    Chapter 4: The 1st Solar League

    Peace in Central Europe, did not always mean peace everywhere. While Cathay, Ferrara and Bohemia lorded over their victory unrest was picking up elsewhere, notably in Britain where the English Monarch had died suddenly at a young age while engaged in a war with the Scottish to the North. England, previously a governorship of Cathay, and even centuries later the ruling elite of the Kingdom saw little need to involve the nobility in establishing the formal rights of the monarch and other classes within the country.


    This had also meant that no laws of succession had been drawn out should the King die without a legal heir. Now of course the King was dead and the capital was in the hands of Lord Regent Idris of York one of the powerful vassals of the Kingdom, but whos closest royal relation was to the King of Sweden, a foreign power.

    Worst still was that the previous King William's wars within the Isles had made enemies of the Irish (Who had Northern Ireland taken from them), The Welsh, and of course Scotland who now were all eagerly supporting rival claimants within the great Power's court in hopes that chaos in England would give them opportunity to retake thier lands.


    The Kingdom of Ireland, knew immediately that it's isolation from Britain proper set it at a disadvantage in England and so found a sponsor not on Britain itself but further across the Straights of Dover in Queen Elizabeth of Cathay. The Cathay had no reason to return to the Green Isle in the future and were eager to offset England's future power in the region as well as to establish a valuable alliance.

    Ireland of course was the major stopping point for traders wishing to avoid the Pirates and so held a large navy for protecting both the Island and it's trade interests in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. With the Irish on board, any future Naval power of england would be heavily offset by rival powers, perhaps doing more to weaken the Kingdom than any temporary dynastic unrest.​


    In Bohemia's sphere events were also moving quickly. In Poland King Konrad had re-established the rights of the Sjem upon his succession to the Throne there and to officially organize the Kingdoms of Bohemia and Poland into a more perfect and permanent political entity, the Sjem was given powers to rule the Kingdom of Poland in Konrad's name in perpetuity. The Sjem as their first act would be to establish a ruling council away from Krakow, eventually choosing the City of Warsaw on the Vistula River.​


    Bohemia meanwhile formally declared war on the Kingdom of Denmark citing that the Kingdom of Denmark had no rightful claim to the Pommeranian lands the crown currently occupied. Bohemia's claim of course was just as frivolous but, of course Bohemia had allies and the might of the Polish crown behind it. Denmark lacked both such things and soon found itself quickly being overrun.​


    In Cathay Elizabeth II was enjoying her newfound status as one of the Great Monarchs of the world yet again. With new and exciting technologies populating the regions of southern France Elizabeth saw such a time to be an opportunity to invite artists, intellectuals and famous nobles back to Ventralis for a grand ball.​


    While mostly a waste of Money, the Elizabethan Ball would bring with it the mind and loyalty of one Rodrigo de Valenz a bonafide 'Renaissance Man' who had made several strikes in fields both artistic and scientific. Rodrigo and Elizabeth's shared interest in the fields of Science and art would lead to Elizabeth's creation of several academies dedicated to art, science and the military throughout the nation.​


    Such advancements would well and truly being what was known as The Renaissance north into France and Cathay. Ventralis while not the heart of the Renaissance would become yet another organ in the engine bringing progress to Europe. Decades in the future, Rodrigo de Valenz and his workshop both would be considered vital parts of what made the renaissance what it was, and dozens of cultural interpretations would make the most famous man in Elizabethan Cathay one of the most famous in history.​


    In this time, the Duke of Burgundy impressed by the Cathay to his northern border and fearing for his safety against the Germans and Occitans around him, formally swore fealty to Elizabeth II. Though such an arrangement was more symbolic than practical as the Crown of Burgundy remained almost fully autonomous only sending a small amount of tax and political support to Cathay in comparison to Luxembourg which was for all intensive purposes part of Cathay itself with only nominal independence.​


    In this time the tensions in England finally boiled over following the assassination of Lord Regent Idris of York. Idris, honorable to the last had located the bastard son of King William in Scotland, and intended to name the boy King. Upon hearing of this news, a member of the Royal Court, Henry of Lancaster had his personal guard, as well as the local London militia arrest Idris and force a confession that Idris intended to name himself King, where afterwards he was promptly executed by Henry's favored claimant, the young Prince Roger of Wales.

    In response, Idris' daughter Constance declared a revolt and started a march on London with aid from the Scottish and Idris' favored heir, William of Lothian. Who many onlookers abroad expected to marry Constance of York provided house York stood victorious.​


    Ireland in the meantime had secured Ulster yet again and made moves to guarantee it's protection against whoever claimed victory in the English Civil War. Ireland would enter into a treaty of protection and mutual respect and friendship with Cathay, with Cathay being the obvious and dominant partner in the relationship. A compromise but one that would ultimately keep the Emerald Isle safe.​


    Elizabeth meanwhile prepared for a second round against the Hanseatic Republic. The intent was clear, with germany Humbled and the Hansa in full collapse the rich dutch lands needed to be secured by Cathay first and her Swedish allies after. The war would also provide ample opportunity for the Crown Princess to test her new toys, adopted from the spanish not long after the Elizabethan Ball.​


    Gunpowder had already been a stable of armies for well over a century. Brought from China Europeans first simply used the material as it was intended for fireworks and parlour tricks. It did not take long before sappers began to use it in large quantities to undermine walls, and later develop cannons to siege castles from afar. The Germans while not the inventors of the Arquebus had brought it to the battlefield enmass and this had impressed Princess Diane that her Mother's Infantry first doctrine required such a weapon fielded in quantities never seen before to be the future of armies across Europe.

    After all, Feudal levies needed to be trained sometimes for months, and had equipment of varying quality, something that Royalist forces in Cathay's past had abused during the various civil wars of the Empire, where the more professional royal guard would easily deal with the primarily unprofessional armies of the outer provinces. With the army smaller than ever before Cathay needed every last edge over the quantity based armies of its enemies and using miniaturized cannons over crossbows or longbows to Diane was simply a natural evolution of warfare.​


    The War ultimately would be a slaughter and the Hansa would beg for peace in short order, ceding more of the Netherlands to Cathay but also very importantly, the province of Neva to Sweden. Neva was especially significant becuase of its position within Russia. The Hansa had originally take the province for control of the Neva river, and thus control of the trade coming from Russia and with Russia now developing the city was in a crucial place for the future. Sweden of course was now in control of the city and thus in control of the Russian trade coming into the Baltic Sea.​


    With the success of her doctrine, Elizabeth turned south to Avalon to exploit the situation in England as much as possible. After all with England in the midst of one of its worst civil wars yet the Avalonians, whos only notable ally was England were once again alone. No time was wasted and the Imperial army left the Lowlands and turned south.​


    Like against the Hansa the war was short, quick and relatively bloodless. One major battle marked the day and the Avalonians, fearful of Cathay's Arquebusiers quit the field almost immediately, and later sued for peace ceding the remainder of Normandy and Anjou to Cathay, a harsh deal that would be looked on with unease by most of France and Germany but one that would ultimately end the Threat of Avalon, forever.​


    With two successful wars the Course of Cathay was certain, Guns were the future, what had seemed like pure lunacy a mere decade in the past had humbled two nations that had given Uther the Hammer pause. The ability to quickly train and mobilize an army using a more standard weapon had power. Gunpowder had finally provided a means of producing large amounts of such weapons for the army, and Elizabeth herself would ultimately take a special interest in their engineering and construction.


    A New Age of warfare was dawning, One not of individual skill at arms or prestige on the battlefield, but of Gunpowder.



     
    Chapter 5: The Spanish Wars Begin
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    Chapter 5: The Spanish Wars

    While a balance of Power was being established in Central Europe and Civil War being fought in Britain the Situation in Spain had remained eerily quiet. Andalucia had as predicted asserted its authority over the lion's share of Iberia but remained thwarted by other minor powers with foreign allies. The only power that the Andalusians could openly go to war with was the Knights of Santiago who due to their religion found themselves strapped for allies.

    After some time Andalucia had even managed to drive the Knights out of Iberia proper save for a small amounts of loyal coastline. Coming from high of conquest the Kingdom of Andalusia formally declared thier intent to unify the Peninsula, drawing in a feared enemy, The Growing Power of Ferrara to the East.


    For the Ferrarans a Unified Spain simply was unacceptable, Nonetheless a Spain unified by Andalucia would challenge Ferrara's control over the Western Mediterranean and her Trade lanes to Her allies in Western Europe. Thus backing the Knights of Santiago the Kingdom of Ferrara arrived on the continent with intent to contain the Spanish situation. However that too would not go according to plans, as the Knights quickly found themselves unable to retake thier home territories and the Ferrarans found themselves bogged down within the arid spanish interior.​


    After years of Stalemate the worst finally had come about, the Complete Collapse of Andalucia upon the death of the Monarch leading to the open revolt the great merchant cities within the Kingdom. The Ferrarans having made peace for some minor monetary concessions had of course achieved what they had set out to do by proxy but had earned them the Ire of most of Europe who watched has spain descended into complete anarchy.​


    Bohemia meanwhile was continuing their push up the River elbe, seizing all the Lands up to the Baltic Coastline, as well as the city of Berlin for themselves from the crown of Denmark. While these lands were relatively poor, this move was very significant for the balance within the Bohemian-Polish Union as now the Bohemians no longer required the Poles for access to the sea. This meant that Polish Taxes on trade levied by the Sjem could now be ignored, and over the next few decades Berlin would becoming a buzzing hive of activity as a major city along the Elbe river and Bohemia's access to the sea.​


    Elizabeth now entering old age had set forth a new Policy. Despite years of investigation and no results Elizabeth remained certain that lands far to the west not only existed but could be found and claimed. Forces within court of course would make such a policy a fantasy and instead directed much of the Prestige and international influence of Cathay on other far more important matters such as the formalization of Dejure and Governorship laws, as well as Emergency provisions for the army to save on maintenance costs during warfare.​


    Internationally, with Chaos in Britain, Cathay expanded it's sphere of minor allies to Include the Crowns of Caledon and Wales, both in an effort to contain england but also to ensure the fighting within England itself would not spill over to other countries as it had in spain. Eventually this sphere would expand yet again to include the Princedom of Poitou to the South as well as several other French minor states.​


    A successful monarch in almost every respect Elizabeth finally passed complaining of stomach pains. While in the past accusations of poison would immediately float around, Medical science Elizabeth herself had supported had quickly revealed she had died of bleeding from her stomach.

    Her Successor would be the now Famous Diane the Terrible, for she was feared the world over for her skill at arms both on and off the battlefield. Diane, not nearly as eccentric as her mother wasted no time settling into the affairs of ruling the new Cathayan state and continuing the reforms of her grandfather. The most significant of these reforms would be far ahead of its time.​


    Known popularly as the 'Roman Acts' Diane banned or dissolved thousands of redundant and useless titles in use in the country, formalizing the nobility in a far more restrictive and structured class, and unlanded Counts, Barons and even Dukes within the country has their titles officially stripped. However these reforms would come two sided as such an act alone would greatly anger the second estate.

    With the dissolution of redundant noble titles, those that remained would be formalized and guaranteed by law, and thus the granting of Nobility in exchange for monetary or other payment was banned in entirety. The only way to become a Noble was through act of the Sovereign, or through blood relation or marriage. Similarly this also extended to ranks within the army tied to the nobility, meaning that Diane now had full control over Generalship and leadership within the army.​


    The result of these reforms would first and foremost be the dissolution of the Autonomy of Luxembourg. After nearly a century the Princedom had finally been reabsorbed by the Khitan crown. Prince Robert of Luxembourg would retain the title until his death, where it would be reclaimed by Diane, his Granddaughter. From that point forwards the Crown Prince or Princess of Cathay would be given the title Princedom of Luxembourg while the Second in line would often be given the title Prince of Normandy.​


    On matters of Warfare Diane remained on the cutting edge, adopting widespread use of Bronze cannons as soon as they became available for use. In doing so, the Price of Copper skyrocketed, notably in Sicily who controlled a valuable mine in Bulgaria. As the only other source of Copper readily available for Cathay was in Germany, the Sicilian-Khitan copper trade would soon become an essential aspect of Diane's foreign policy.​


    Of course as expected Diane would go to war, notably with the Dukedom of Brunswick, which was wracked with a long regency and few allies. The war of course was mostly to ensure the continued advance of Cathay along the Northern Coastline of Europe.


    In short order Brunwich was surrender a significant portion of it's northern Coastline to Diane. Though Brunswick ultimately was not Diane's ultimate goal, as it had few allies and little territory actually worth Taking. However the army needed a warmup for the main event. After all there were far larger fish to fry.​



    Like her mother before her, Diane would march on Germany.​




     
    Chapter 6: Destiny Awaits
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    Chapter 6: Destiny Awaits

    This would be the third major war between the Crowns of Germany and Cathay, and the Rematch of the first Solar League War against Germany and Sicily. Since the First War Germany had continued a slow and steady collapse from within and around. Despite a powerful economic heartland and military the Germans were beset on all sides but still determined to save their nation from the Brink of Destruction. How this was was conducted would be what would determine if Germany could remain in place as a great power but also the position of the other members of the Solar League, Ferrara and Bohemia.​


    The Unified Crowns of Poland and Bohemia or otherwise more commonly referred to as the Third Bohemian Empire had risen to prominence in recent years. Provided the Poles and Bohemians could organize, they held enough power to match any one country alone in Europe and even in the middle east, with lands from the Elbe to Western Russia under their domain. However that did require the crowns work together and the Polish Nobility was notoriously fickle and disinherted in the far more german biased Czechs of Bohemia.​


    As far as the actual war, Bohemia was to take the brunt of Sicily and Germany's armed forces while Diane's armies laid siege to Germany. Thanks to the rough terrain of Bohemia proper and the defense in depth of the Bohemian Empire it was expected that the Sicilians could be help up for years unable to reinforce the Germans.

    This was not the case, as the Sicilian's had promoted Pankratios Kaisarios to lead their northern Thrust. Kaisarios was a talented field commander but more importantly had grown adept in the school of siege warfare, using Cannon and gunpowder to fell previously impenetrable walls. The Bohemian citadel at Prague fell within Months and the Sicilians rushed to try and save Germany only to run headlong into one of Cathay's own talented Generals, Findlay Bahram, a General who favored the Cavalry Doctrine of the Army, and was eager to prove their worth on the battlefield despite the increasing relevance of gunpowder.​


    Despite victory after victory being won in Germany, the Bohemians decided to sign a hasty peace. The Polish Sjem had grown weary of the War taxes levied upon Poland to keep bohemia In the War. With Bohemia's armies weakening it had begun to look more and more like the Poles would loose confidence in their partner, and declare independence. The Bohemians naturally could not allow themselves to be in such a weak state and paid a paltry amount to the German and Sicilian alliance in exchange for their territories being restored.​


    Luck however was not with the Germans, as while Bohemia had grown weary eager for a quick peace the Kingdom of Bavaria, a hated Rival had finally decided to make its own move. Due to the meddling of the Polish Sjem house Anniona has been cut from their Bohemian alliance and Bavaria had drifted into becoming a minor power within Europe. The Time for opportunism however had come and the Bavarians jumped at the opportunity to also carve themselves a slice of the German pie.​


    With little hope remaining the Germans sued for peace. Bohemia, naturally was furious at such a turn of events however the Bohemians blamed Bavaria for thier delay in entering the war. Becuase Bohemia was absent from the peace deal Ferrara received the Bohemian share of the demands, and Diane negotiated for the seizure of Genoa to the Ferrarans rather than more minor gains in the Italian heel. The Provinces of Munster and Meppen meanwhile would be ceded to Cathay, further strengthening the Khitan stranglehold on Northern Germany.

    Such minors demands however came with a high cost, the Solar League had not only lost more men but also half the Ferraran fleet. It would be some time before another war between the Great Powers would erupt in Central Europe and perhaps that was for the best.​


    In matters of technology, Investments paid into the realm of shipbuilding by Elizabeth had begun to return. The popularization of Triangular Sails, as well as the invention of new means of navigation were opening up the possibility of a voyage across the Atlantic in search of the ancient viking colony of Greenland. Diane however remained hesitant to commit any more resources to what was still considered a foolish endeavors. It would take foreign resources and initiative to push beyond the bounds of the map and truly dare to seek out the dragons that lay in the fog.​


    At home the Renaissance remained in full swing. Diane not the most diplomatically capable of Rulers had seen to it a corp of diplomats be created for the country.

    Previously the Job of meeting with foreign dignitaries had been a duty of the Sovereign, the Consort or the Chancellor. However the Chancellorship of the Empire was often busy sorting Internal issues, and the Sovereign in this case was far more interested in military matters than speaking over trade treaties or holding intellectual debate.

    To address these Issues Queen Diane announced the creation of an office for foreign Policy where diplomats would be hired and trained in the art of diplomacy. The old connections that Cathay still held from days past when it ruled the world worth speaking of were preserved through teaching and practice. From its creation onwards the foreign office would be an instrumental part of the Kingdom's dealings with other powers and be held in high esteem the world over.


    The Foreign Office's first main challenge would be handling the breakup of Andalusia. With Complete chaos in the Kingdom it was only inevitable for the Monarchy to be overthrown and then of course came the country coup. By the time the ashes had begun to settle the Kingdom of Andalucia was a shell of its former self and the vultures had come out from all directions.

    All Cathay could do was watch as the Spanish continued to descend into warfare and anarchy. On the bright side however the Warfare in spain brought a spread of Renaissance Ideas to the whole of Europe, and many renaissance scholars found new homes in Italy, but also and rather significantly the British Isles who were now recovering from the War of the Roses.​


    In Cathay, Diane had given birth to an heir, named Catherine after the Famous or Infamous depending on ones perspective, Catherine the Nun. Catherine the Nun of course being known for falling in love with her own father, and abandoning her vows with the Church to Pursue the Throne against her siblings and other pretenders starting the war of the Four Dragons. The Largest civil war in Western European History since the fall of Rome. Catherine would go on to win every battle until she was killed north of Barcelona while trying to cross the Pyrennes. Her successors lost the history.

    Naturally the hope was that Diane wished Catherine to take on her namesake's martial prowess and not other aspects of her personality or fate. Catherine herself however would grow up to be much the opposite in every respect, becoming a talented and intelligent ruler and only a competent warrior and diplomat, Much to the disappointment of her mother.


    In Central Europe the Fall of Germany was now in full swing. Weakened by the Solar League Bavaria had utterly eviscerated the southern half of Germany taking its place as the dominant German successor state. Though Bavaria had this moment of triumph the Crown of Bohemia and the Kingdom of Ferrara both looked upon it's lands with envy. Bavaria of course controlled the vital lands outside of the Ferrara capital of Venice and whos delay in joining the war cost Bohemia large sums of gold, great loss of life and of course a seat at the peace table.
    But of course the news of Germany's fall was only one bit of news. A far more interesting tale was filling the taverns across western Europe. Not of German Mercenaries and War, but of an Irishman of all things. As if times were not strange enough, this Irishman had become somewhat of a celebrity in a short time, becuase of a wild claim.

    There really Was something beyond Greenland, Something Further a land of Great Green Forests and powerful flowing rivers. A Land with Red Skinned natives and wealth beyond Measure.​



    A whole new world.
     
    Chapter 7: A Whole New World
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    Chapter 7: A Whole new World

    O'Shannon's discovery would be met with wide scepticism across Europe. Particularly in Spain, where efforts to explore down the coast of Africa and off the Islands of Cape Verde and the Azores had been stalled due to warfare. The Spanish embarrassed at having beaten refused to recognize Oshannon's discovery, In Cathay the debate had already been raging since Elizabeth's reign on if a land across the Atlantic could even exist at all and so O'shannons discovery only fell into the existing debate rather than settle it.


    Nevertheless Catherine had little choice in the matter, If this new world existed Cathay could not afford to find itself lacking and so a commision was created for any Captains daring enough to make the Voyage. Many would try and fail, others would sign on only to attempt to make away with the promised commission but some would indeed make the crossing and one day return to tell the tale.​


    In Northern Europe Oshannon's discovery was overshadowed by the end of the Danish-Bohemian war over Pommerania. The Land transfers ultimately were minimal in this war with Bohemia's primary goal of reducing Denmark's ability to claim the german territories being filled.​


    In Spain the Kingdom of Andalucia's collapse was now total. The Knights of Santiago had returned to the Continent with intent to claim thier lost lands in the Dejure lands of Portugal. Meanwhile Granada and Catalonia both had great ambitions for their own spheres of spain.​


    In Italy the Kingdom of Ferrara made moves to enact a war decades in the making. Ever since the Ferraran Capital moved to Venice the Bavarians had controlled the only land route to and from city and could charge a high toll for traders passing in and out of the border, as well as compromise the security of the country. With Bavaria's allies distant and both Cathay and Ferrara fresh and ready for war the time to reclaim the Fruili coastline was at hand.​


    Cathay primarily focused on the Princedom of Toulouse, as while Bavaria now held dejure German Lands Catherine was interested in expanding the Kingdom to any significant degree. The French states of Cathay's south however needed to be kept In line first and foremost, as if the French would unify under their own terms they could threaten the security of the Southern territories, most of which had french minorities within them.​


    Despite war and Elizabeth's death her policies of Scientific advancement continued. The Renaissance after all was still in full swing and dividends for Cathay's early acceptance for such ideas would periodically pay for themselves both in better Government and Military technologies.​


    With Toulouse dealt with and Sweden completly disinterested in actually honoring it's alliance to Bavaria the war quickly spiraled out of Bavaria's favor and house Anniona soon found their german conquests as well as most of the Bavarian core territories under occupation.​


    The resulting peace would cede most of Bavaria's Italian territories to Ferrara allowing Ferrara to surround the Tirol Silver Mine as well as liberate the Capital in Venice. With Bavaria now dealt with of course a new option had opened for the Ferraran Kingdom. Sicily, was a primarily greek State, and the Cathayan Empire had been reduced to a Kingdom isolated from affairs within the Princes of the Mediterranean. If a few more territories could be brought into the Fold the Ancient Kingdom of Italy, could be restored.

    The Dream of an Italian Kingdom would swiftly become a primary foreign policy goal for Ferrara, much to the dismay of the Republic of Genoa and Principality of Ivrea.​


    In Spain the Treaty of Lisboa had been signed, and was very much the opposite of what was going on in Italy. Rather than the local Power growing stronger and closer to unifying the region, Andalucia now was forced to return the Portuguese territories of Spain to the Knights of Calatrava in their entirety. The Duchy of Granada meanwhile expanded its own borders. The Treaty of Lisboa, while not a permanent blow to the Andalusian dream of a Unified Iberia would be a massive setback.​


    With Peace in Italy and Spain an French-Italian explorer and close friend of Captain O'shannon, Christian Lioreux finally made the southern Journey from the Knight's of Santiago controlled Azores, finding and mapping the Coastline of what was being called America, after Christian's son Amerigo Lioreux.


    Lioreux's discovery and maps would primarily be of the Southern Caribbean and the coast of what would later be called South America. The naming of 'The America's ' ultimately would be far more controversial than necessary with the Irish and a few others referring to them as Camelot while more Latin centric countries would use the more traditional 'America'. In Cathay the name would be interchanged back and forth as ultimately the New World's name didn't matter nearly as much, the potential was what mattered.


    With the discovery corroborated by the Italians there was no more about about the new world's existence. Catherine in response doubled down on her policies for initial colonization of the New World. After all, nobody had even been able to establish a permanent settlement, Cathay still had ample opportunity not only to claim a part of America for itself but possibly to establish an entire empire. Of course Cathay wasnt the only power looking to America with hungry eyes.


    The English now finished recovering from the War of the Roses also declared their intent to claim the new world for itself. The Scramble for the Americas was on.​
     
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    Chapter 8: Colors of the Wind
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    Chapter 8: Colors of the Wind

    England declaring it's intent to conquer this new world as well as to recover from its recent troubles was received with open scepticism by many in public. Silently however England had sparked a scramble for territories wherever they could be found. In Africa the Spanish had already begun to set up trading colonies and naval bases for ships traveling to and from Brazil. In Cathay, Empress Catherine had other ideas.


    Liao George, a wealthy merchant and entrepreneur had accepted the Empress' offer to bring conquest and discovery for the crown in exchange for the governorship of any territories built under his oversight. The Merchant family of George had made its money primarily from the Spice trade out of the Mediterranean. With chaos in the East however the Spice trade had dried up, and trade with India and China was a dangerous and risky affair. In America however the main obstacle was open ocean and the dangers of Scurvy, as well as matters more mythical like sea monsters and the like, things that the shrewd Patrician knew well enough not to believe in.​


    Liao George's expedition would sail for America with three ships, all three Carracks modified to undergo a long ocean voyage, replacing much of their armament and gunpowder reserves with food and also trade items such as Glass from Ventralis. However the Gratiae, Mors and Aerecura were merely a stopgap measure for the first trip, as Liao George has commissioned three new ships with a more modern design like those of the Irish and Spanish, that were expected to be completed by the time he had returned. Liao George would sail north using friendly ports in Northern Ireland as his base, his route would be expected to pass Iceland and reach the ancient Norse colony of Greenland and re-establish Contact, and perhaps offer the colony back to the swedish as token of friendship.​


    At home Catherine found that despite her fair and prosperous rule unrest had been growing across much of Europe. The German citizenry and nobility were unhappy with recent events, and the French Princes were growing wary of the state of the world. Cathay and Ferrara held all the cards in Western Europe, as Andalusia had collapsed and England had little interest in continental affairs.

    However, any efforts at espionage were had pressed to succeed. Sigismund Biberen, A close confident of the queen, and the Royal spymaster had a coin in every purse and an ear in every place of note within the Capital, and the courts of Cathay's enemies. The Germans in particular called Sigismund a Traitor for his loyalty to a Foreign monarch, though this did little. Under Biberen's shadowy rule Cathay found itself more stable than ever.​


    On matters more civilian, the Kingdom, mainly the Khitan had begun to undergo a cultural enlightenment, the first major cultural advancements since arguably the Julian renaissance. Artists and Historians of Khitan descent, wishing to distinguish themselves from the Spanish and French had dug deeply within the histories to find something culturally distinctive.

    It had been hundreds of years after all since Kiran settled the Khitan within the lower Rhineland and in those years the Khitan become more and more european while Ethnically there was little difference between the Khitan and European Ethnicities around it much at all.

    The creation and Popularity of Francis Jau's painting 'Eastern Wind' depicting Xiao in an almost messianic central position on horseback looking westward would lead to a fascination and resurgence in artwork depicting the ancient Khitai. A stark difference to the far more classical focused style of the Southern Renaissance.

    Such an enlightenment of course had come at a time when the Khitan Empire was in fact looking west Yet again. Wishing to emulate the greats thousands began to pay into Colonial projects to claim a new land. The while the army had after centuries of focusing on heavily armored knights, reformed cavalry doctrine to emphasis speed, implementing Cavalry and outrider tactics well over a millenia old used during the migration, after modernizing them of course.​


    In matters of Politics, the Crown of Avalon was for the last time, humbled by Cathay. Once the richest province of the Empire and a great power in Europe all itself had fallen far since it's independence. After a defeat from Poitou, Catherine needed to do little more than move in and return the White Lion of Avalon to its rightful place, kneeling to the Black Lion of Ventralis.​


    in the following Months Liao George had returned to Cathay from his first expedition. The Norse Colony of Greenland had been found, but it was sadly abandoned much to the foreign office's disappointment. The lack of any settlement of Greenland also meant that unless the Irish were willing to provide a base for colonists traveling to the New World, the Northern Route would be impossible without serious innovations in shipbuilding.

    Not dissuaded of course, Liao instead sailed the southern Route for America where he planned to sail along the coast after reaching Brazil.​


    England meanwhile was making good on its intent to unite the British Isles, brutalizing the Kingdom of Caledon in a war and seizing the entire southern half of the Kingdom. Ireland and Wales of course remained under Cathay's protection but at this point barring a massive army appearing from the scottish Highlands, an English reunification of Caledon and Albion was inevitable.​


    In America the Rush to colonize was in full swing for the Spanish but also for Cathay. Rather than fight for Brazil as the Spanish were doing colonists from Cathay instead settled on the Island of Trinidad safe and separated from the Jungles of South America. However without proper maps things quickly had become disorganized and local officials sent to keep the peace soon found themselves traveling to the continent to retrieve rouge expeditions before them and their supplies were lost to the Jungle.​


    Ireland as well was getting involved in the Rush, Establishing a Naval base on the western Fringe of Africa. However while the Irish discovered the New world, the intent of their colonial policy was to travel down the coast of Africa in hopes of the continent breaking and thus enabling them to reach India.​


    With matters settled at home, and the War with Avalon over, Catherine now turned her attention back to Germany. The region of course was still in full collapse and for Cathay to sit idly by while Bavaria and Bohemia gathered up the spoils simply could not be allowed and so once again, Khitan troops marched across the Rhine into German territory​


    With Germany in its decrepit state the war was a short affair, and the partition continued. The Narrow corridor of territory connecting Bremen to the Core region of cathay was expanded, Ferrara expanded its influence past the Alps and the German treasury was thoroughly pillaged.


    In America, English explorers as well as Liao George had returned with maps of a Northern continent, beyond Greenland and far to the North of Trinidad. The Actual Land discovered by O'shannon, Camelot, or North America as it was being called was temperate and untouched. The problem was of course reaching it. Sweden despite little intent to colonize had declared Greenland a sovereign part of its territory, forbidding the English from trying to take a northern passage. Cathay however had Trinidad as a jumping point but of course had Continental problems.​

    Catherine quickly identified England, despite its smaller size and isolation as Cathays primary threat now. It would be England with its vast fleet that could threaten Cathay's territories outside of Europe, but also cut her off from Ireland and to some degree Sweden. Catherine Era reforms of the Navy would join the list of the many advances made during Renaissance Era Cathay. It also would be the last, Not becuase innovations were slowing, but becuase a new Era was about to dawn.​



    New World Crops, Peoples and Riches had brought on a new source of technological and cultural advancement. The Race for America was on, and those that Embraced Colonialism and It's ideals would be destined to become the winners.​
     
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    Chapter 9: War of the Polish Succession
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    Chapter 9: War of the Polish Succession

    Cathay of course was in a perfect position to challenge the Iberians and English for control of the New World on paper. In reality however the chaotic nature of early new world exploration and colonization had made things far less simple. However a far more major reason for Cathay's lack of dominance in early colonization was simply the fact that Cathay had commitments on the continent which were far more pressing.


    With the Ferrara-Cathay alliance expected to middling princes of France had become an increasingly relevant issue. The Lords of Southern France saw Cathay as a state as actively working to subjugate France yet again and thus treated it accordingly, this meant the denial of military access to Ferrara. Since the only other passage into Italy was through germany this simply could not be allowed to stand.

    Diane wishing to send a message declared war on the most powerful of the French states, the Archduchy of Poitou who had recently taken the Avalonian Capital of Rennes in defiance of Cathay's sphere of influence.​


    In America Cathay's first major colony, the Island of Trinidad named after the Holy trinity of the Christian Faith had become a major base for the kingdom. It's largest settlement Georgetown would become arguably the most important port within the new world for several decades and would long be considered afterwards to be the gateway to the caribbean. The success of the Trinidad colony came as a result its warm climate, allowing for the growth of Sugarcane, something previously restricted to a mediterranean climate. To grow the Sugarcane in large amounts however a source of manual labor was needed.

    At first Governor Liao George tried to impress the natives into performing sugar cane duties, however disease soon killed this idea, literally as the Island of Trinidad's native populate dropped down to nearly a tenth of its original size due to the spread of smallpox and other illnesses. Without a labor force, Calais turned to indentured servants, and eventually after studying the success of the brazilian colonies of the Iberians, Calais turned to african slaves.

    With Trinidad complete the focus for Cathay turned to Bermuda and also the Island of Cuba. The Lack of Cathayan settlement on the mainland was mostly a practical concern, as the Imperial fleet could defend Island colonies far easier than coastal settlements surrounded by wilderness. There was also a distinct lack of support for deploying actual armed forces thousands of miles across the sea and thus leaving the mother country defenseless.


    Speaking of the MIlitary, Diane's last great military innovation would be the final implementation of a professional officer corp into the military. Progress to this end was already being made in Cathay since the reign of Uther, but as all traditions were, the landowning nobility were well entrenched. Diane resolved this issue by simply ignoring it, organizing the nobility and their armed forces that still remained from the Imperial Guard.The nobles of Cathay of course were not happy about being sidestepped but were allowed to retain their influence and retinues, even if they were growing smaller and less significant in comparison to the growing Guard.​


    The Champion of the new Officer corp would be Field Marshall Alan Ellyn. Ellyn was a member of the minor nobility brought into relevant through the military and now was a prominent commander of the Imperial army under Diane II. Favoring quick decisive tactics Ellyn would spend years trying to perfect an army doctrine that could intermix the use of cavalry with cannon, pike and shot. It would not be until Diane II's death that Alan Ellyn became the favorite of House Cathay.​


    Diane II now well into old age died quietly in her bed and was succeeded by Catherine. The succession however was not simple, Catherine had an older bastard brother by the name of Alfred of Ireland who upon the death of Diane arrived in Brittany with Elite Galloglaigh infantry. Upon hearing news of such an occurrence Ellyn on his own initiative turned north, as all of the Imperial army was currently busy within the Alps or Southern France.​


    At armor Alfred found himself outnumbered and outmaneuvered by the more experienced General Ellyn and was promptly defeated and captured. Ellyn would deliver alfred to the Imperial Capital and in reward be named supreme commander of the armed forces by Catherine for his loyalty and help preventing a potentially costly civil war.​


    Victory in France was soon to follow, returning all of Brittany to Cathay as well as the duchy of Berry. Poitou was humbled and the French princes reminded of their place in the world. The Fortress at Berry would be a major reminder of such a war, as now Cathay could easily move into Toulouse directly.​


    With access restored to the Italians the war over switzerland ended in short order resulting in half of the Duchy of Ivrea to be ceded to Ferrara. The expansion of the Ferraran King north however would have consequences later down the line, as without the Rhine as a natural border, the temptation of controlling the Upper Rhineland would color the foreign police of Ferrara going forward as their Italian and Balkan ambitions were slowly sated.​


    Of course one commitment would lead to another, as they often tended to do. In Bohemia the Marriage between the Czech and Polish peoples had come undone following a series of tax disputes. Sensing opportunity to find a powerful ally in the Baltic, the Kingdom of Sweden sided with the Poles while Catherine sided with the Bohemians.

    Things came to a head when the Polish Sjem, in defiance of Bohemia elected Chiano Wisniowiecki otherwise known as Chiano Wisnik as King. King Wilhelm of Bohemia responded with an immediate declaration of war with intend to abolish the Polish Sjem and arrest and kill the pretender. Sweden responded with its own declaration of war, thus forcing Catherines own hands and soon all of Northern Europe's great powers was prepared to do battle for the fate of Poland.​



    The first major battle of the war would be not against the Poles but against opportunist rebels within Prague, who took the recent civil war as an opportunity to try and create their own legislative body within Bohemia in the vain of the Polish Sjem. These dreams however were cut short upon the arrival of Cathay's troops, who liberated the Bohemian Capital and worked out terms for how to go about the war.​

    It was agreed that Cathay would handle the Poles, while Bohemia would contain the Swedes within the northern Elbe, this was done to avoid bad blood in having Bohemian troops march into, pillage and destroy polish towns and lands. Cathay instead would receive the blame, but Cathay was not the rightful ruler of Poland and so, that blame mattered less. Of course this plan could backfire and be seen as King Willhelm inviting a foreign conqueror into Poland to fight his wars for him, but Willhelm sought peace before his own prestige and perhaps rightfully so, as without Poland, Bohemia's influence within europe would be no more than the princes that surrounded it.​


    During this war the new problems with Diane's system of officers had become quickly apparent. While removing the nobility from the equation, the favoritism of the monarchy would still determine who was assigned roles within the military. General Alan Ellyn was a competent general, but he was not the best general within cathay. Ellyn's inferior, Yanchege Xwedayar was a superior tactician in every way held back by ironically enough by his more Khitan upbringing in the Rural areas of Avalon.

    Far from the Latinized and Urbanized Ellyn, Yanchege lived and fought amongst his troops, invited officers from all walks of life to consult with him on strategy and had in fact turned Ellyn's dream of a combined arms doctrine into a reality. None of his achievements however would be valued by the Cathayan aristocracy or crown for most of his career, and while one of the most important wars in recent history waged in poland, Yanchege remained at home, putting down revolts. Only towards the end of the war, would general Xwedayar be summoned into Poland, and only due to Alan Ellyn suffering a case of food poisoning and wishing to return home.​


    In the Meantime the major battles were won in Poland by Alan Ellyn, defeating the Poles within Bohemia and then outside of it, humbling them at every available opportunity. However, Poland was not some upstart rebellion, and had its own military staff and loyal officers. Losses were high and Ellyn quickly met his match against the Polish pretender Chiano. By the time General Xwedayar would to fight the Polish monarch a year later, poland for the most part had collapsed, the Sjem had been exiled or arrested and what remained of Chiano's army was vastly inferior to Xwedayar's expeditionary force. It would be however Xedayar who would arrest Chiano and bring him to Bohemia to be hanged.

    After nearly five years of warfare the War of the Polish succession ended. Cathay's involvement was limited to Poland and Poland Alone, the swedes unwilling to commit anything into Cathay's interior, and the Bohemians having successfully fought the Elbian front to a stalemate. The Polish Sjem was abolished in favor of a unified body of nobles of both monarchies. Polish separatism would still exist for centuries, but defeat in the war of the Polish succession would mark the beginning of further centralization of the Bohemian dual monarchy from a fragile alliance into a world power.​


    In the West, Progress was being made of course, but the lack of attention had meant that Bermuda and Havana were the only major results of nearly two decades of colonization. Havana of course would quickly displace Trinidad as the most important and rich port within the Americas but with wars holding Catherine's attention, the English finally could establish several of their own footholds, and the Iberians would expand their brazilian territories massively.​


    Outside of War, Catherine put her talents to work rebuilding the Imperial capital, making the old Gem of Northwestern Europe shine once again. The opening of two new districts and the reconstruction of several major monuments lost during the Western War, as well as the complete reconstruction of the Waterfront of Ventralis would turn one of the major cities of Europe into the largest city in the world under Catherine's reign.​


    However, such reforms and focuses at come at a cost. Spain after all was still in Crisis, and the Knights had now returned to the continent and had their territories returned to them. The reintroduction of more fundamentalist ideals of the Knights on the syncretised citizenry of Iberia however had an adverse reaction, resulting in much of the local clergy to outright reject the return to some old dogmas, declaring a countrywide protest. A small event for a relatively obscure faith, but the precedent set in Santiago would be the first of many.

    There of course was a far more relevant movement about to be inspired by the Spanish, and the Shot was going to be heard around the world.​



    And Just like that, on December 12th 1517 The Solar Church once one and indivisible under the Caetye, was broken, forever.

     
    Chapter 10: Double Bladed
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    Chapter 10: Double Bladed

    The Faith of Zun had originally come to Europe as an oddity. A Strange and Foreign eastern faith of a Nomadic people that had not yet been enlightened by Christianity. In the centuries that followed however the conversation in matters of theology had changed dramatically. The Zunist Faith was no weak and disorganized Pagan Pantheon to be proselytize. Born from the Religious conflicts of the middle east and fueled by Eastern Syncretism it had spread like wildfire over much of Europe, and those that converted spread it with fire and sword into Pagan lands throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic until worship of Kenzai's Solar deity had stretched quite literally from Ireland to Cathay, To Persia.

    However up until very recently the Faith had been closely associated with the Imperial Bloodline of Cathay. It has been House Caetye that founded the Militant and Theological branches of the clergy, Had given the High Priesthood the city of Rome and later moved it to Antwerp where it currently resided. A Faith so vast and disorganized by Abrahamic standards however had vast regional differences. Without being properly versed it would appear at first glance that a Nordic Zunist sect and a Middle Eastern One were completly different religions and for the most part they were, except for one defining Characteristic.

    The Reflections, the Holy Books of the Zunist faith were held by House Caetye and no belief, prophet or miracle would be recognized without the Emperors approval, and Emperors often demanded a high price in tribute for such things to be recognized. A failure to achieve such legitimacy could meant rivals both foreign and domestic could use the faith as a political tool under the guise of purging heresy or defending the faith. That was about to change.​


    High Priest John III had died suddenly, rather than elect a new High Priest, important officials of the church fled to Germany and met in secret in Brandenburg, where an ambitious Priest and preacher, Martin Luxor spoke harshly against Cathay's dominance of the Reflections and of the Faith's use as a political tool. Luxor argued that the Faith should stand on its own as an independent entity, as originally intended by Kenzai the founder, and not be controlled by the whims of powers that the vast majority of the faithful considered Foreign and untrustworthy.​


    Luxor's message resonated with the feelings of the Clergy and in short order he was elected High Priest in defiance of Queen-Empress Catherine. The intent of the Council was simple, divorce the Church from the State, specifically divorcing it from Cathay and her allies. Something that ran right in the face of the Khitan Empire's resurgence as a great power.​


    What happened next would determine the course of things to come. Martin Luxor traveled to rome to meet with Delegates from Ferrara and Sicily, The two great powers powerful enough to face down Cathay. In Rome Luxor convinced the delegates from both countries to support his bid for an independent clergy to spite Cathay. Bohemia quickly joined with Sicily and Ferrara in signing the 'Edict of Sienne' a document assuring the independence of the Solar Church and its divorce from Global Politics. The Situation was now spiraling out of control, and Catherine would need to act quickly.

    A second council was called this time by Catherine and loyalist members of the Faithful in Paris. Ironically this council would be attended not only by Cathay and her tributaries but also the English and Iberians who were skeptical that the edict of sienna was just an excuse for control of the Faithful to switch from Khitan interests to Italian and Greek ones.​


    England however was a special case. In exchange for England's support in the Council of Paris and refusal to sign the edict of Sienna, Catherine agreed to recognize English claims to Caledon and also to bestow Imperial Regalia upon the English King, resulting in the Formation of the Empire of Great Britain, and United Kingdom of Caledon, Wales, England, and Mann.​


    England, now Great Britain was afforded the Dejure lands of all the British Isles except those currently held by the Independent Kingdom of Ireland. The Irish remained an ally protected by Catherine, but the Welsh and Scottish would be afforded no such rights as thier relevance to Cathay had disappeared the second Luxor stepped foot in rome.​


    British support was quickly followed by Swedish and Iberian supporters as well. Nothing however had been put to paper, and the situation remained tense but not yet explosive. Several options presented themselves, War being the most obvious, Sweden, Great Britain and Cathay could if they struck quickly break the back of Ferrara and Bohemia and leave the war a solely sicilian affair. Without Rome Luxor would have no ground to stand on and his movement would be struck from the nobility and brought into hiding.

    Such a war however would be devastating and so Catherine actively looked for other methods of compromise. One would be to simply let Luxor have what he wanted but remain belligerent, after all Cathay still held the reflections, and Luxor couldn't take them by force.

    The Third Option was of course to undermine Luxor's entire movement and offer a deal with the devil, by demanding Cathay retain its rights to the Church within its own sphere of influence but to recognize an independent clergy outside that sphere. With war imminent Catherine opted to offer her terms.​


    In a backroom meeting in Neutral Genoa Luxor agreed to Catherine's demands, Theological Sovereignty over her subjects, and a permanent say in matters of the faith. Luxor however remanded adamant that this right not be extended to other states. It would be this decision that ultimately would color Luxor as a controversial figure, as his motives for accepting the Cathayan offer could be interpreted many ways.

    One on side Luxor would be accused as no better than an opportunist, building a movement for the sole purpose of the Khitan to recognize him as high priest with little care for the consequences. On the other, accepting Catherine's demands would avert a war and religious upheaval that many suspects could lead to the deaths of people on a scale never before scene in Europe. Either way many experts agree, war or peace Luxor's original vision for a divorced Church and State died the second Catherine decided to oppose the movement in Paris, as no matter what happened it would be corrupted in one form or another.​


    With Catherine's signature on the new Edict of Tiber, House Caetye was granted defacto control over the church within its Dejure borders, Ireland and Spain. King Roger of Ferrara was furious and the Bohemian and Sicilian monarchs none too pleased, demanding similar treatment from the church. Most of the rage would be directed at Catherine who famously remarked "A Dragon does not concern themselves with the Opinion of Sheep".

    Luxor soon found himself isolated politically, and while he could retain the independence he had fought so hard to achieve, a sudden and mysterious illness and death saw his successors cede increasing amounts of control of the Solar Faith to the Various Kings and Princes, the World over. Luxor's dream would die within a century of it's birth. Though Cathay's influence over foreign churches had also died that day, and the Solar Faith had in a sense freed itself from Cathay, though at the cost of now being a tool for more local interests.​


    In America, while Scholars debated and Nobles fumed a complete accounting of Cathay's new caribbean colonies was completed. Several encounters with the Local Mayan and Aztec tribes in Mexico had given explorers a clean picture of Camelot and America. It was not two continents that had been discovered but one single continent that ran from the turbulent southern Atlantic to the Frozen North of Greenland. A New World, as vast as the Old with endless amounts of untouched wealth and opportunity.​


    The Caribbean had become the Hotspot for Colonial Endeavors with the Portuguese Knights of Santiago as well as Cathay being the major contributors. The Focus of Great Britain who also had a presence in the region would be mostly on the antilles, smaller islands planned to be used for mostly sugar. The Knights were solely committed to Hispaniola, leaving Cuba to Cathay which was expected to be a major producer of a new and sought after good, tobacco.​


    With Religious conflict averted in Europe Catherine declared that now was the time for new opportunities to be created in the West. There was of course now ever more reasons to sail west. Opportunity and Adventure existed of course but now the desire to convert and bring more peoples into the umbrella of Cathayan Zunism would be the missing peace of the puzzle to bring about a great conquest of Paradise and an age of new Empires.

    Empires not built on the backs on the old and conquered, but on Guns, God, Gold and Steel.​


     
    Chapter 11: God Gold Guns and Steel
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    Chapter 11: God Gold Guns and Steel

    With the major religious questions of the day settled, the consequences would now begin. Cathay with authority over its subjects and tributaries now had full incentive to expand further into France and Germany to increase its influence. Which of course it did almost immediately despite Catherine's lack of interest in warfare on the continent.

    The First Target was the Republic of the Hansa, which had been allowed their independence since the last major war becuase of the trade and economic benefits that had continued to bring to the English Channel. Now those Benefits had waned in recent years with the Hansa's loss of Germany and Russian Colonies and the rise of Colonial Trade.


    The only Major power willing to come to the Aid of the Hansa was the King of Sicily who felt opposing Cathay now as opposed to later was the only way to ensure the Empire remained contained within its borders and would not expand further south and east to solidify its alliances with Bohemia and Ferrara. Of the course problem came in that Sicily could not reach Cathay except by ship, and so could do very little to save the Hansa and attack lightly defended shipping across the European seas.​


    In Great Britain the annexation of Wales and Scotland had led to a massive shortage in Wool produced from these areas. The Local Celtic populations were of course none to pleased to have the British as overlords now and were preparing to resist occupation for as long as possible, which of course mean the local sheep industries had become worthless. The English desperate to reclaim the trading deals of Welsh wool had invested heavily in making due with less, producing draperies and other fabrics in house using as little wool as possible and shipping that instead. Once the technology reached the mainland the Price of wool crashed while the demand for fabric only increased and Great Britain was in an ideal location to exploit such a change.​


    In America, Cathayan explorers hearing tales of a Mythical spring said to grant eternal life had begun scouring the mainland far and wide. Similar tales of El Dorado and the City of the Caesars was providing motivation for similar expeditions into the Jungles of South America. In North America, or Camelot the natives were more organized and generally tried to dismiss most explorers' beliefs in such fantasy locations but still they pressed on, as the Irish spent thousands of ducats searching for King Arthur's Castle and the the Mythical Lady of the lake.​


    At home Tragedy had struck in short order, Catherine one of the greats of Uther's line had died suddenly of a heart attack leaving her inept son Sande I as King Emperor of Cathay. Sande while educated in matters of state was by no means competent. Though the mechanisms to compensate for such an inheritance were in place, and the Imperial Council took up much of the slack of ruling, though they also demanded far higher pay as a result.​


    Catherine's sudden death however did enable the Sicilians to smuggle an army into Hansa territory by way of the Channel. While the Sicilian Fleet soon found itself surrounded and destroyed as a result the army did managed to liberate the Islands of Zeeland before General Ralph Sibel arrived to run them back into the sea, defeating the King of Sicily himself with superior numbers of Cavalry and Cannon.​


    Defeat at Zealand saw the Hansa surrender their independence to the Kingdom of Cathay. For the first time in over a century the Dutch Merchants once again bowed to the Khitan. Though the once powerful and rich Republic of the Hansa was a shadow of its former self by this point and in a few decades the republic would be fully integrated into Cathay.​


    In other matters Sande and his Consort Esclarmonda of aquitaine had produced an Heir. Little Lyra was hoped to be a turn of force for the Dynasty as Sande's abilities as a monarch were relatively lack luster. However as Lyra grew into childhood it quickly became apparent that she was simple to many in court, Sande however would refuse to disinherit his daughter which would cause significant issues at court later.​


    In the Caribbean Cathay's hold over the large Island of Cuba was secured, and the Caribbean territories as a whole were handed over to an appointed governor for the foreseeable future. With the Territories in America being several months away by sea and the King being unable to properly handle such a territory it was considered a necessary sacrifice as after all the Caribbean colonies did not have much use for the empire besides providing regular Sugar and Tobacco which a governor could handle just fine.​


    In Europe the Fall of Germany continued in full force, and the Military was not about to let valuable territories end up in Bohemian or Bavarian Hands. The Northern Territories were invaded and conquered in short order with the King of Germany able to do nothing but protest and futilely resist as his Kingdom shrunk ever smaller.​


    In the East Bohemia had managed to connect its Russian and Eastern European Territories through war with Trebizond and sicily. Previously Bohemia's power had been offset by the fact that large swathes of it's russian claimed territory were blocked by the Kingdom of Lithuania in the North.

    As Bohemia expanded it's Carpathian territories however the Northern route was seen as more and more impossible to achieve as Lithuania was powerful and held an crucial alliance with the Shah of Persia, and so a Southern Route was achieved instead, now allowing Bohemia to govern its russian territories by crossing the Carpathians, a Nonideal solution but Bohemia successful in the Balkans now dreamed of controlling land from the Baltic to the Black Sea.​


    Back in the Caribbean, expanding colonies had created an almost endless demand for Labor, specifically in Sugar plantations owned by Great Britain and Cathay. With the Natives insufficient as a Workforce and most white settlers looking for wealth and opportunity and not hard labour the African Slave market had become the natural choice. While already established by this point the Establishment of the Royal British Sugar Company marked the start of what would be known as the Triangle Trade.

    The Principle was simple, Manufactured goods from Europe would flow down to Africa, specifically the Mali, Irish and Iberian colonies within Africa for slaves. These slaves would be brought across the Atlantic to work Plantations in America while often Iberian Traders would continue around the cape of good hope with European Manufactured goods to sell in Asia. The American colonies would then feed raw materials and cash crops back to Europe generating an absurd amount of wealth for those with hands in the Colonial sphere.

    From this point forward Controlling Atlantic Trade, would forever be intertwined with the success or failure of nations such as Great Britain and Cathay.


    Of course Colonization efforts were no longer restricted to south America and the Caribbean. Opportunism after all has no limits and the relative empty and temperate lands of North America attracted them Enmasse.

    With the Carribean growing crowded and more tightly controlled by the various colonial governments many more independent ventures found themselves taking the Northern Route, and sailing across the Atlantic past Ireland and Greenland and down into the Wooded lands between the Hudson river and the bay of Fundy.

    Temperate by European Standards these colonies were not particularly rich but soon found support from Cathay for their valuable ports and access to North American Furs which previously had been controlled mostly by the British and Swedes.


    Such moves always came with compromises however, Many of these North American Settlers were initially dutch fleeing relatively oppressive conditions in Cathay brought on by the Wars against the Hansa Republic. The settlement of New Amsterdam in particular on the Island of Manhattan was of great use the Crown and so a compromise was made. The Dutch people would be given royal protection and equal rights as the Khitan within Cathay and in exchange control of the New Amsterdam Colony would go to the crown. A good deal for the local dutch nobility, but it would mean the effective erasure of much of the post Collapse Dutch culture due to its proximity to the Khitan heartland in Flanders and Brabant.​


    In Europe, the Crown was still expanding the Imperial borders as much as humanly possible. The Crown of Aquitaine and the remains of the Karling dynasty in particular had become of interest as of late with the Expansion of powers such as Toulouse into Iberia.

    With recent conquests in Germany and the Netherlands still being incorporated however the Karlings in Aquitaine would find themselves lucky as Sande only wished to create a French buffer state between Khitan lands and the Occitan and Iberian states to the south.​


    It was at this time that new waves of innovations had begun to be implemented. With the rise of the Imperial court in face of a weaker monarch the Bureaucracy of Cathay expanded, and with an expanded Bureaucracy came new changes to the Military and Navy.

    Control of the Army in particular was more formalized with veteran officers holding higher ranks than newer less experienced trainees. At sea new Warships were built with a focus on more firepower and less speed and of course within the administration more emphasis was placed on institutions than on the individual and more educated Bureaucrats ensured the entire system could run quietly and efficiently.​


    For a start better efficiency was to cut out the middle man in the Triangle Trade quite swiftly. The Iberians had been fairweather partners at best in West Africa and so colonies along the Ivory Coast were established in short order to provide Cathay with its own supply of slaves, Ivory and African gold.

    It wouldn't' take long for the Administration to pass laws banning the trade with Iberian and British Colonies in Africa almost entirely forcing Cathayan merchants to trade only with Cathayan colonies or the home country, and thus ensure the entire system could only benefit the influential persons who ran the fledgling imperial Bureaucracy.​


    Back in Europe of course the popularization of the Printing Industry had hit an alltime high. Printers in Venice and in other major cities had made astounding amounts of progress devicing new and more efficient reproduction techniques for written works brought on by demand from the religious reforms of Martin Luxor, and the councils of Brandenburg and Paris.

    For the most part these printers made much of their income on the translation of the reflections, holy works and intellectual writings stored away in universities and monasteries, but this was steady work and it was drying up rather quickly. News on the other hand was increasing in popularity, though lacked a large story to truly gather the interest of the European Nobility.

    That Story was about to arrive, and with it, a boom in the printing industry like that which Europe had never before seen.​


    With Cathay as a rising power it would only be natural that Scandal within it's court would once again be a show the entire world would watch.


     
    Chapter 12: Avante Italia
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    Chapter 12: Avante Italia

    King Sande as previously mentioned was not the Ideal ruler of Cathay for the time. While not completly inept Sande throughout his reign needed to rely heavily upon his council and royal advisors to govern a perpetually growing colonial and European Empire. Sande while completly inept in military matters still put most of his efforts into administration and diplomacy and so had left his personal life lapse. As such it was no real surprise when it was discovered privately that the Queen was having an affair with a member of the Royal Court, but the newborn Newspapers of Cathay had followed the scandal down to its roots, something that previously would not be done.

    Queen Esclarmonda was found to have been having multiple passionate affairs with multiple people of importance within the royal court for decades thus shaking the legitimacy Crown Princess Lyra and thus the entire house. With the growing of the Merchant and Freeman classes within cathay the Story quickly had become the most printed non-religious work in Cathay, and was being translated for foreign consumption. King Sande, unable to handle a wildfire effectively growing out of his control deferred to his uncle Robert, the Prince of Normandy who ordered the arrests of the Queen and Much of the Royal Council.


    As the saying goes, Heads began to roll as much of Sande's Advisory found themselves fleeing the country, imprisoned, or executed. Queen Escarmonda was forced to confess that Princess Lyra was born of one of her affairs. With her confession Lyra was disinherited and Banished to the Manhattan colony under guard, the Queen was less fortunate and lost her head quietly outside the capital.


    With the matter being resolved, Sande opted to marry a German Princess from Bavaria. This was done for several reasons, the first to issue a show of support for the Bavarian Crown, now trapped between Ferrara and Bohemia, who were both more powerful than it. It also meant inviting German influence to court which Sande hoped would help in consolidating his Rhineland territories.​


    Sande would marry Princess Catherine, Queen Adeline Anniona's fair and younger sister. Catherine was an ambitious woman, and due to her elder sisters relative ineptitude in ruling the Kingdom had been making unsubtle plans to unseat her has Monarch. The Royal court of Bavaria unwilling to invite a civil war with Bohemia and Ferrara breathing down its neck were desperate to be rid of the troublesome princess as soon as possible making it a pragmatic match on all fronts.​


    A match that ultimately would be for the Best it seems as a year after the marriage Catherine had Produced an heir, Crown Princess Morgan who would inherit the martial prowess of her Mother, somewhat offsetting Sande's own terrible luck with his offspring.​


    With the dust settled, and the Scandal there was still benefits to be had. Cathay was the center of modern printing technology and combined with the influx of new technologies and discoveries brought in from the new world the channel region had become the premier region for innovation and the spread of ideas throughout the world. The Waterways of France, England and the Channel had become an intellectual highway and such developments would only compound with time.​


    Printing had also enabled something not possible since the Julian reforms centuries ago, the creation and refinement of an Empire wide code of laws. While not the first of its kind in Europe, the Sandian Code would be the first widely printed and distributed code of Laws in Europe. The highlights being a uniform right to a fair trial, the formalization of punishments for various felonies and the establishment of the first copyright laws.​


    In Cathay's Allies a major development had come about, greater than some royal scandal. The Kingdom of Ferrara, long dominant over Northern Italy had finally integrated the remaining Italian Princes in the West leaving only the Republic of Genoa and Ferrara on the peninsula. Triumphant the Kingdom of Italy at long last was proclaimed, a New Empire equal to that of Sicily in the South and a True power to be reckoned with.​


    Elsewhere in the World the Colonial Race was heating up as the Swedes landed on Newfoundland, Naming it Vinland after the ancient medieval colony. Thus marking the arrival of a third major power in North America after the British and Khitan.​

    The Colonization of Vinland had allowed Sweden to dominate the European Fur Trade in its infancy. As demand for European and American fur skyrocketed the Swedes were now the sole beneficiaries bringing Trade and Prosperity to the North Sea but also Scandinava, a land increasingly left isolated by innovations and politics in lower Europe.​


    With Sweden Dominating the Fur Trade and the Iberians still dominant in Sugar and Slaves further to the south a new Initiative was given approval in the new world.

    Explorers and Settlers to the New World not content with settling the Temperate lands of North America or the Sugar islands had begun to push further into more populated lands in Central America. During the first few years settlement was peaceful, particularly in Honduras where the native populations live more out of fear of the Xiu Empire or European Slavers looking to skimp on African Slaves.

    The first of the Famed Conquistadors would be born of this co-existence. Malintzin was a Nauhau Woman given to Cathayan Colonists in Honduras as a slave. Governor Lucius Bellford however had already abandoned any hope of turning his charge into another Carribean as the climate was deemed unsuitable for large scale sugar or tobacco plantations and so freed the tributed given to him so long as they converted to Zunism and settled within the Colony.

    Malintzin however soon proved herself far more capable not as a colonist, but as a commander. Able to speak both Mayan and Aztec languages and readily accepted into the ranks of Cathay's more egalitarian Military. Malintzin eventually would be brought back to Cathay where she would describe to the Royal court the Aztec and Mayan Empires in detail, and the vast sums of Gold held within.​


    With America and it's vast wealth growing famous the floodgates now opened. Italy and Sicily as well as some more minor states such as Brunwich all openly pursued colonial adventures. The Ability to not only found colonies but also support them and extract profit from them had become a crucial part of international prestige overnight.
    Knowing feeling this Malintzin returned to America at the head of an army forty thousand strong, with orders, to incorporate the Aztec and Mayan Peoples into the Cathay willingly, Or by force.



    The Scramble for America was on.​
     
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    Chapter 13: Red Sun
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    Chapter 13: Red Sun

    The Xiu Empire was caught completly unawares and unprepared for the Khitan Invasion force. The Secretive Maya had spent the last few decades keeping Europeans at an arm's length while consolidating their hold over Central America. When the European plagues came the Xiu were devastated like most of the American continent but had weathered the storm better than most Native states thanks to the advanced construction of their cities and a willingness among the priesthood to spend utterly massive sums of gold on medicinal technologies from the west.

    Those troubling times of course were far gone now and chaos in Europe had left no power truly able to challenge the Xiu for thier wealth, Until general Malintzin and the Khitan American expeditionary force arrived of course.

    In a matter of weeks the Xiu cities of southern Yucatan fell and the Maya gathered thier armies to repel Malintzin and her army, Three times they would march south to try and three times they were repulsed costing the Xiu greatly. Unwilling to risk further losses to her army Malintzin promised the western Zapotec and Kiche tribes for aid in the war in exchange for a return of their ancestral lands. Both tribes accepted and a combined native and European army marched on the Xiu capital in northern Yucatan.


    Terms were harsh but ultimately were no different than outside of those demands Cathay would levy Upon her European colleagues. The Border cities of the Maya were seized, and Cathay's allies were rewarded at the expense of the Xiu. The Mayan Empire while not visually breaking apart was now in crisis as its military might had been crushed and other Europeans would soon be looking upon their lands with Hungry eyes.​


    The pause in Malintzin's campaign was due to matters less economic and more spiritual. Malintzin had recently converted to the zunist faith and felt it in the best interest for her people's future for the Central American faiths to be absorbed into the reflections rather than be driven into extinction. This of course would take some time as captive priests needed to be taught Khitan alongside a massive effort to train translators. Even more difficult was gathering Nahuatl and Mayan stone scriptures for study as the region's diversity made establishing what practices were uniform and which were unique only to some city or small tribe a lengthy process.

    Then there was issued with the elephant in the room, Human Sacrifice, something the Khitan priests sent to study the Mesoamericans found abhorrent. A practice that had become increasingly commonplace since the Plagues and European Invasions had arrived, and one that would color European perspectives of Natives the world over from now until well into the future.​


    In the years to follow Malintzin would be named military governor of the newly founded Yucatan colony by personal recommendation of her predecessor, Governor Belford. A position that as it turned out would be no less exciting than Malintzin's brief career as a field general. Blood was in the water after all and every European power under the sun was now interested in a bite.​


    The British knew very well they could not afford to squander any colonial opportunity that presented itself and put heavy effort into the Plains north of the Aztec peoples. The Swedes not to be left out also built a small settlement and allied themselves with the Caddo people further north.

    Worried about losing his dominant hold in America, King Sande ordered the construction of twenty new Galleons to secure the Caribbean from british and swedish influence, establishing Cathay as the dominant Naval power while the British sunk thousands of ducats into their Mexican and Caribbean endeavours.​


    At Home the tutor of Crown Princess Morgan and chief military advisor to King Sande, Bangar Taneen had proven himself capable with his investment into now Governess Malintzin and had used his political capital to advance himself both in the public mind but also the Royal court, proposing a series of radical reforms to the ever popular Tercio system adopted now well over a decade in the past.​


    The newly minted Taneen Reforms formalized the Uniform of the Army and introduced mandatory training hours for troops within the Imperial Guard. Equipment which previously was assembled from a hodgepodge of different gunnery workshops and foreign sales was standardized and no longer would be purchased from whatever was available and instead ordered to Military demands.

    The Royal-1580 series of Muskets while not uniform across all of Cathay in terms of manufacturer or design and function had to fall within a set weight and length tolerance and most importantly have a uniform barrel diameter.

    The end result was of course the combat efficiency of Cathayan troops rose dramatically in comparison to her peers and the Taneen Reforms would remain in effect as a baseline for centuries to come.​


    Elsewhere throughout the world efforts were being put into full force to expand Cathay's colonial holdings. The Horn of Africa, widely believed essential for a successful circumnavigation of the Globe had been recently discovered and more importantly discovered to be a temperate and acceptable land for true settlement outside the immediate coastline. With the only way to India around the horn of Africa control of Cape Colony quickly grew to be a crucial point in Atlantic trade, as valuable as Arguin in West Africa held by the Irish and perhaps more valuable than Constantinople itself in terms of the Spice Trade, as that was held by the Kingdom of Jerusalem.​


    In the North the Fur Trade had quickly led to the widespread hunting of animals, mainly beavers but also wolves and bears in vast numbers. Numbers of native wildlife plummeted and in particular Wolves and other such animals in places such as england were driven to extinction.

    The Swedes however found themselves in quite an interesting position, with control over the vast Scandinavian supplies of Fur as well as access to Canada's near boundless living wealth. The last piece of the Swedish Fur monopoly had fallen into place and the previously poor and irrelevant Northern Kingdom had become a Trade Juggernaut within a matter of years simply through shrewd colonization and convenient geography.

    The Swedes had truly become the greatest successor to the once Mighty Khitan Empire company that ruled the North Sea and its trade lanes.​



    The Swedish fur Monopoly forced a response from Cathay of course, There was Khitan colonies still in the colder regions of North America that claimed to have abundant access to Fur through trading with the Iroquois Confederacy further to the west. This possibility proved too potentially valuable to ignore and so King Sande spent even more of the royal treasury expanding Khitan influence around the Manhattan colony.​


    While the Manhattan and Boston Colonies were the most prosperous in the Immediate, de facto control of the Entire East American coastline south of Boston thanks to the supremacy Cathays navy would allow for the foundation of ten more colonies, forming the Twelve Provinces of Eastern America, Yet another semi autonomous colonial region, unique in its temperate climate allowing it to attract thousands of immigrants from England, Scandinavia, Ireland and France more interested in pursuing opportunities for themselves and their families rather than working plantations or overseeing mining operations.​


    In this frenzy of Colonization King Sande would die quietly of heart failure in his chambers leading to the succession of his Young Daughter Morgan. Only Seventeen Years old Queen Morgan would inherit a throne her father had struggled to keep together against all odds. By this point however Sande had managed to reform the the fledgling Bureaucracy to such an extent that the load on the monarch was severely lightened. Still Diane was completly at a loss for diplomatic matters having been prepared more to administer and wage war than negotiate Cathay a place in the world or pursue naval matters.

    It was in these matters the Royal Advisor Bangar Taneen was once again called upon to take up the slack.​


    Successful and Charismatic Taneen soon found himself becoming arguably the most powerful man in Cathay after the monarch herself. Though his true influence would be felt in his education after the ascension of the Crown Princess and the Upbringing of her successor, the Princess Diane who as she grew out of childhood who took to lessons of war and diplomacy like a fish to water.


    Of course a student is only as good as a teacher and Taneen ensured the young Princess was properly instructed in her interests. The Martial blood of Caetye had been reignited for the first time since the Crown Princess' namesake and high hopes were placed Upon Morgan and her daughter to reaffirm Cathay as the dominant power in the world.​


    With the military returning to the forefront of Cathay the focus started by Catherine and Sande on heavy colonization had ground to a halt. Quality, of the Empire's ships and army was top priority thanks to Taneens influence, after all such things were crucial to ensure that Cathay could defend her colonies and not just found them. The Italian Kingdom had been formed after all, Sweden now held the income to hold supremacy over Northern Europe, the British were constant rivals at sea and of course Bohemia was always growing ever stronger in the east.​


    Since the failed Polish rebellion the Bohemian Monarchy had abolished its electoral trappings inherited from the poles until the Polish government had been completly absorbed into that of the Bohemian one. Combined with a successful string of military campaigns against trebizond, Lithuania and Sicily, the Bohemian Crown now held unity over its lands in the Ukraine, the Carpathian Basin and the North European Plain.

    Though Bohemia was not yet done of course, Sicily remained a constant thorn in the Empire's side, Pommerania and Sweden held large swaths of Baltic and German land the Empire had laid claim to, especially Prussia which had become a major flashpoint between the two empires. In the East Lithuania could still threaten to cut off Bohemia from the Ukraine should the Carpathians freeze over and so the Great Empire of Central Europe was already making moves to ensure its threats were dealt with, in due time.​


    In France Morgan wasted no time integrating the merchants of the Hansa into Cathay while also using the military to expand further into Culturally Khitan lands in Lotharingia. While the monarchy continued to show a lack of interest in expanding into french lands directly (Leaving such conquests for Aquitaine) the Khitan people were spread down the Rhine into the Northern Alps, representing a potential flashpoint with Italy.

    The Fact that the Princes of Ivrea and Burgundy held dominion of Khitai subjects was seen as a tarnish on Cathay's prestige. Furthermore, some advisors argued Cathay should reach the alps and Pyrenees anyway as it was a natural border against the powerful Italian states, though an argument for Cathay to Pursue natural borders had a single problem, the Northern European Plain which Cathay shared with Bohemia broken by the Elbe which ran up and through the Bohemian Capital at Prague. This reality of Cathay's most exposed border being the hardest to secure had eroded such arguments somewhat.​


    Security at sea however was another matter. Great Britain and to a lesser extent Sweden were the primary threats to Cathay and her dominance of America. Both nations held powerful navies and easy access to the Exposed Lowlands. Due to the terrain in the lowlands they had poor potential for fortifications and so any invasion into them could mean a march into the Rhineland, the beating heart of the country.

    So extra emphasis was put into the Navy alongside the army, Mainly in regards to the Galleons and other heavy ships that dominated the waves. Inefficient as ever these ships were considered crucial to control of the sea and so Cathay took to the habit of armouring warships mainly around powder magazines and other crucial components.

    This had mixed results, as while metal plates helped with durability, they rusted rapidly at sea and weighed down an already heavy craft significantly. Still they increased combat efficiency, and so further progress would be made to lighten the metals used, as well as developing warships that could be armored on the fly from coastal garrisons before a battle.

    Of course reform and theory was useless without being put to field. With Empires growing into eachother both in Europe and at sea eventually would come and no nation wanted to be found wanting. Though it would not be Cathay initializing many of these wars but the Italians.


    South America after all played host to the most colonizers and so would be where the majority of these wars would be fought.​




     
    Chapter 14: Ressurection
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    Chapter 14: Ressurection

    The rush for Colonies in the New World and the consolidation of power into the hands of an ever decreasing number of states in Europe was swiftly bringing forth a new age in the world. Arguably since the fall of Rome, Powerful states were controlled by powerful men, and women at the top for better or ill and as time grew on Islam and the remnants of the Eastern Roman Empire were extinguished by such great leaders conquering vast swathes of territory in great campaigns only for their descendants to rule and eventually collapse. This had been the fate of countless minor empires and the Khitan Empire was no exception in this.

    With the return of Bureaucracy, the spread of paper and now printing and the weakening of landed nobility and clergy the State and those that ran it were becoming the fuel for the various political and economic forces in the world, driving colonization, warfare and trade. In this reality where the individual grew less important many were traveling to the new world seeking new opportunities and so brought even further wealth back home, fueling a new age of Empires fueled in part by the power and charisma of its leader's but also the state itself.


    The Italian Invasion of New Granada had sent a clear message across Europe that the time for Minor powers in America was soon to be swept away. The Kingdom of Italy in one swoop had seized all of Spanish Columbia connecting the Italian colonies together in the region at long last and firmly entrenching the country itself in the affairs of South America.​


    In France the French were attempting one last time to establish themselves as a great power in Europe. The Prince of Toulouse, long at the mercy of Cathay and Ferrara had continued to strike out to unify his brethren in the region and now had recently marched south into the Iberian states. After the Seizure of Aragon Prince Louis proclaimed himself Rightful King of Occitania and Aragon. A Move that would draw an immediate response from Italy and Cathay.​


    Queen Morgan denied such a claim openly and declared a formal state of war on the French with intent to shatter their prestige and kill a potential rival in its infancy. The Italians feeling threatened by the rise of a rival trading power in the Mediterranean answered the call and marched west over the Alps into Provence.​



    Toulouse exhausted from its war with the Spanish resisted at first and quickly folded. Its survival however had been assured by a small miracle in the death of Queen Morgan and a year long Regency for Princess Diane. By the Years end Diane III had been coronated and marched south at the head of an army with intent to break the back of the rebellious principality.


    By the end of the second year Toulouse had been rendered a wasteland by Diane, whos armies now stood poised to march across the Pyrenees. The Italians had meanwhile only stayed to seize thier demands and then turned north on the Bavarians who had sided with Toulouse in hopes of further allies joining to contain the Italians and Khitan​



    Diane, as mentioned before had an interest for war and diplomacy not seen within house Caetye in centuries. Upon ascension to the throne her influence was felt within the army and diplomatic corp almost immediately as Diane's intent was not merely advance Cathay, but make it the greatest power in the world yet again.​


    Diane however spent little time actually administering the realm or settling down at all. Diane throughout her life would never marry and instead had dozens of suitors throughout her early reign favoring almost none of them besides a traveling Musician by the name of Dashi von Frankfurt who had been a lover of the Queen since the days before her succession. As such Young isabella born not more than two years into Diane's reign would be named Heir despite being born out of Wedlock​


    By the Queen's preference and with the Crown Princess half German the administration lightened restrictions gradually over time on the Rhineland provinces removing the rather harsh language laws put in place during Diane II's original conquests into the region and generally incorporating more germans into the army and administration as a whole. While not ideal with the fall of Germany and the gradual weakening of Bavaria, this had become some amount of respite, especially when considered the rather harsh treatment of Germanic peoples by the Italians and callous indifference of the Bohemians.​



    With Diane's campaign successful the Principality of Toulouse was diced apart as far as its northern territories were concerned, with Provence being ceded to the Italians as well as the transfer of french lands taken to the Prince of Aquitaine, a loyal vassal of Queen Diane. While not a major exchange of land the lands taken, particularly Province and Poitou were two of the richest cities in southern France and their loss effectively cripplied the upstart Kingdom and ended any dreams of a unified French State at least until Italy had been driven from the region and Aquitaine subdued.


    With her success Diane also ensured that the Toulouse would be the first to acknowledge Her not as Queen of Cathay but as an empress. Specifically as Empress of the West, a title not used since the days of the old Khitan Empire. The use of which formally announced the ascension of Cathay and its Sovereign back to Imperial Glory.

    A major distinction to make here is that while in traditionally Roman Lands the Term Empire and Emperor had since been eroded over centuries of Khitan rule in Europe. While the titles drew descent from roman tradition, the Dejure authority of what was the Western Roman Empire had been perverted by Charlemagne and his descendents and utterly annihilated by Khagan Kiran in centuries past. As such the only truly recognized 'Roman' de jure lands remaining was Greece, Illyria, Italy, Anatolia and Hispania and the Mediterranean Coastline.

    The Lands of Francia and Germania were considered Dejure Khitan Territories before roman at this point though not without contention, specifically in Germany and Britain where powerful states still stood to challenge such claims. Francia or better known as the Heartlands Provinces of Ventralis and Avalon however were unquestionably Khitan setting the Borders of Traditional Khitan land at the Rhine in the East and the Loire and Rhone in the south.


    Diane of course would also continue the reforms to the military setting standard calibers for cannons in addition to the previous ones in place for Rifles. This would dramatically increase the effectiveness of cannon on the field of battle and looking ever forward Diane abandoned the old doctrines of including small numbers of cannon with each army and expanded those numbers so that each expected frontline army could have equal numbers of expected cannon to cover the entire line.​


    Meanwhile in America, Sweden prepared to make its own play to kick out smaller powers from America, namely the Knights of Santiago who had recently fallen on hard times in Europe yet again. Previous the swedes had been bottled into Vinland in the frozen north and while the fur trade was vastly profitable there was always room for expansion and Caribbean sugar was something the Swedes were lacking in to a significant degree.​


    In the Empire the harmonization process for the Aztec and Maya faiths had been completed. The Process had unforeseen benefits namely in opening minds around the capital to foreign religions and trade from across the world. Furs and Sugar were already a constant but Cocoa, and Tobacco were also quickly growing into profitable industries in America. Meanwhile the profits from the circumnavigation from India and even as far east as China were starting to flow into Europe by sea. For the first time in history the entire world was connected and prospering to an unprecedented degree.​


    The English Channel of course would be the focal point for much of this Trade. Cathay was one of the richest European countries overall and had the largest colonial Empire, with interests in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and North America. The British were also encouraging this course of events helping to redirect the lucrative fur trade from the North Sea as well as protect the Caribbean from Pirates.​

    The Swedish war would end almost as quickly as it started. The Knights in no position to challenge the swedish lost control over Florida but managed to hold their caribbean territories. The Swedes generally were disappointed in their meager gains but intended to make the most of it by finishing the colonization of the peninsula and the development of Miami, St Augustine and Tampa bay as important harbors for Swedish 'Traders' in the Caribbean seeking to commandeer valuable goods flowing in and out of the Northern Caribbean.


    In the South the Conquests of the Central American peoples continued at a rapid pace. The Rich Gold of Mexico was still untouched but the vast potential within the Yucatan was now in the hands of Cathay providing further access to cocoa and sugar both goods that would only increase in demand in time.​


    With that said, Hot Chocolate would Join rum as a colonial drink that would see unprecedented popularity in Europe Cocoa, combined with large amounts of Sugar, both of which were valuable goods controlled by Cathay flooded the Markets of Europe.

    Thus ending the 15th Century on a note very much the opposite as the 13th. Two Hundred Years ago Cathay had fallen and the vultures were swarming over her corpse, Now it was once again strong and an Empire. Not just in name but in raw economic and military power.



     
    World Update #1 1610
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    World Update #1 1610

    Sorry for the Extended delay, I said I had free time two weeks ago and then had to play nurse for one and a half. I did watch infinity war as a treat after, so that was nice. Also been busy with stellaris and none of this is relevant to Eu4. So, carrying on.​
    The World of 1610 is a messy place but A balance of power has been established in the world. Great Powers dominant both Europe and Asia and America is also slowly but surely coming along. Cats out of the bag if your paying attention on who our mystery colonizers are, We'll meet them later in the AAR.


    Starting with Europe We have The order i'm sure everyone is awainted with by now. Great Britain and Ireland both exist and dominate their respective islands. Sweden still struggles against the Sapmi people and the Prince of Pomerania to form Scandinavia. Spain lies divided between the Kingdom of Navarra and the Princes of Toulouse, Leon and Gascogne with the Knight's of Santiago having once again been run off the Peninsula.

    In Central Europe Italy and Bohemia flex thier dominance with Bavaria the German states and Lithuania all playing minor powers them. In the center of it all is Mighty Cathay having consolidated the Rhineland and Netherlands into the Empire it sets safe and dominant in Northern Europe a shell of its former glory but nonetheless the core lands have once again fallen into place.​


    In the Near east the Sultanate of Tunisia has moved into Egypt to consolidate the remnants of great Aegyptia. Meanwhile in the North the Latin Empire is a decrepit wreck as well having lost much of its territory to various powers the foremost one being the Kingdom of Sicily which has seized most of Greece.

    The Kurds of Iraq have expanded to the Mediterranean at the Latin Expense enjoying their status as a nice buffer state for persia against chaotic anatolia. Trebizond meanwhile lost their own bid for power, losing much of their anatolian territory but also their Romanian and Crimean holdings to various great powers.

    The fate of the City of Men's desire now hangs in the Balance as the Exarchate of Nikea and the Kingdom of Sicily battle to take the Imperial city from the Kingdom of Jerusalem. An Imperial Title hanging in the balance.​


    North Africa is dominated by three States, The Empire of the Mali who have invaded north into Morocco to consolidate their control over Sahara trade. The Sultanate of Tunisia which controls much of the North African coast and the Aging Aegyptian Empire which has been pushed back to its traditional homeland in the Ethiopian mountains.

    Various colonizers have seen to forming colonies on the Ivory coast the more significant of which being Ireland and Pommerania. For the most part however no real nation has taken a huge interest in Africa beyond a few ports for access to slaves and Naval bases.​


    South Africa is dominated by Cathay with some british and Santiago influences in the region. The British are more interested in pushing further and further east into the Indian ocean enabling a powerful cape colony to fall into the hands of Cathay.​


    in Asia we have Four Great Powers of note. Persia which is Camera shy this update it seems is the greatest and most powerful of the Four, Not Ming which is surprising. (But not that much becuase Paradox buffs Persia extraordinary in the converter). Persia stands as the Gateway to the east thus spurring the Colonist countries alone to establish eastern trade.

    Though they will have some difficulty getting thier footholds in India as the Raja of Punjab stands as the dominant power on the subcontinent thwarted from truly calling himself Ruler of all of Bharat by the Raj of Cholu Nadu in the south.

    Ming is as it always was, stagnant but powerful and dominant. Ming has survived aggression from the steppe hordes owing thanks to the Traitor Korchin who decided to attack the Koreans rather than cause problems for the Ming. The Khotan stand as a healthy buffer, interested in making war on China just as they are interested in fighting Persia. Something to note though, Ming owns Taiwan, how curious.

    Last but not least is the Hosokawa Shogunate which has almost complete control over the Home Islands of Japan. Once Japan is fully unified it will no doubt seek to assert its power in Asia proper.


    South America is the home to most of the European colonizers and like ive been saying its a free for all. Generally Ireland is focusing on Argentina and Peru. Sicily is focusing its efforts everywhere it can and Italy is focusing primarily on the Columbian coastline alongside Pommerania. Catalonia still exists in exile on the American continent but will likely be cleaned up soon by greater powers than itself. Cathay meanwhile holds a valuable part of its South American territories under the Governorate of Cuba.


    In North America the story is different. The weak have already begun to be bullied out by the strong leading to the British, Swedish and Khitan dominance of the continent. The Swedes are expanding their holdings in Vinland, Florida and Mexico, meanwhile the brits are focusing entirely on the Gulf of Mexico, competing with Ireland over control of the Mississippi and pushing into Native controlled Mexico.

    Cathay meanwhile consolidates its holdings around the Hudson River in North America proper while expanding its Yucatan settlement in Central America. Small spots of Cathayan settlement exist all up and down the American coastline, the start of potentially a powerful and rich colonial state on par with the various caribbean ones.​


    Here's the religion map, As you can see Shia Islam is back in a big way in Persia but its only a regional power and far from the massive cultural and political monolith it once was. Catholicism in Europe has died for Neo-Christianism, or Protestantism if you prefer. Catholicism still survives in North Africa proper and the Island of Hispaniola but for the most part has reached its extent.

    Zunism meanwhile is pushing hard into America but being Zunism has allowed the natives to retain thier beliefs meaning the Maya religion has been effectively preserved In Asia, Zun's influence is felt as far as the Khotan thus linking it to it's ancestral brethren in China via the steppe.


    And last but not least, Culture. Culturally the world is much the same as it was in ck2. Italy has reached the bounds of its cultural claims but still has its geopolitical ones regarding the peninsula and Adriatic.

    Meanwhile the Various Iberian and German cultures are still intact and cohesive but still divided. Spain is torn between warring princes while Germany is dominated by the interests of two Hegemonies, the Bohemian Empire who has continued to consolidate its Russian territories and the Empire of Cathay which has been reunifying its own people since its fall.

    In The middle East Arab and Persian cultures meet at the Fertile crescent and clash with Greek in the North. North Africa meanwhile remains an unstable mess as do the Balkans. On the colonial front there's not much to report beyond that Colonial Irish may very well eclipse European Irish as being the most populous and dominant form of the culture, especially as Ireland's colonial empire continues to expand.​



    And thats the world. The Age of Absolutism is here and Empires will be won or lost in the coming years and as they are the fragile balance of power may yet break. Only Zun knows what will happen next.​
     
    Chapter 15: Global Ambition
  • dragoon9105

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    Chapter 15: Global Ambition

    With Intercontinental Trade between Africa, America and Europe becoming commonplace it was only natural that the next great ambition for the World's Naval Powers would be re-establishing Trade with India but also East Asia. The chaos in the East had settled in favor of Persia who quickly put an iron grip on silk road as it was reconstructed forcing further pushes around the horn of africa.


    In America meanwhile more minor powers such as pommerannia were expanding Sugar and notably, Coffee production in large amounts. Coffee another Drink rapidly gaining popularity after Hot Cocoa was popular predominantly in Germany and the Bohemian Empire as both Regions found themselves relatively cut out of the Sugar Trade. Bohemia herself was not a colonial power by any stretch but her great population, especially the Urban populations of cities such as Prague, Krakow and Berlin were hungry for Imported goods from America and Coffee while not originally an american good would ultimately be the good that would shape the Scene of Central Europe just as Tomatoes had done so in the Mediterranean and Sugar in Western Europe.​


    In Cathay Dominance in the Yucatan and North America meant it was time to pursue efforts elsewhere. It would be Cathayan Explorers that would dare venture across the Great Pacific and into the Indian Ocean only to find much of the seas had been explored funnily enough by the Persians and Indians. What had not been done however was a full Circumnavigation across the southern hemisphere. Cathay alone would hold the feat of the first Circumnavigation owing the achievement to Admiral Roger Xwedeyar, brother of the Royal Astrologer.


    The Growing Strength of Western European Powers, specifically the monarchies and governments of Cathay, Sweden, Italy, Bohemia and Great Britain had begun to cause a change in Europe and to large degree the world over. The Nobility had seen their power wane as Land was consolidated after the Fall of the first Khitan Empire, the Clergy had seen themselves widely discredited following the Council of Paris and thus a vacuum had been left for the growing Bureaucracy and Merchant classes to fill.

    Since unlike local nobles or the clergy the Bureaucracy answered to the state and thus the monarch, royal power had begun to snowball dramatically and while the rule of the Crown was not absolute, yet, Diane III and her contemporaries in Europe would be considered the first absolute monarchs ushering in a new age of absolutism.


    Abroad Cathay herself was continuing to grow her strength in South America and Africa, pushing the weaker Pomeranians out of West Africa. Thus increasing Cathay's presence on the Dark continent and prominence in the Slave Trade to south America, Much to the Dismay of the other Colonial Powers.


    In North America the Swedes and British had becomes strange bedfellows in colonial administration and economic partnership. North Sea Trade was cutthroat enough with the Pomeranians and Cathayans trying to cut in that both Monarchies had agreed to set aside a nearly century long rivalry. In America both the British and Swedes adopted similar colonial stances of Benign Neglect, allowing their colonies to effectively rule themselves in the interest of focusing more effort on defending trade lanes and advancing political ambitions in Europe.


    On the Chesapeake Coastline Cathay had expanded her original New Amsterdam, Bostonian and Carolina Colonies and laid claim to the entire Coastline running from New Jyland(Nova Scotia) in the North to Swedish Seminoland(Florida) in the South. Effectively marking the Border of the 12 Cathayan American Provinces between the lands of the Seminole and the St Lawrence River, a massive expand of territory home with large amounts of growing space for cash crops in the south and ample sheltered ports throughout for trade with the Mother country.​


    With Sweden and Great Britain warming up to each other Diane III saw fit to increase her standing with Granada, the rising Power of Iberia and also a competing colonizer. Granada held control over mouth of the Mississippi River and thus could charge the British for use of the River for Troop movements and trade. The British responded with a complete trade embargo, backing Granada's enemies in Iberia, Sponsoring Pirates and Generally going to large efforts to make Granada's american endeavours unprofitable.

    Stubborn to the last King Fernando II of Granada refused all offers to sell the New Sevilla(New Orleans) Colony in America and nearly put the crown into Bankruptcy If not for Cathayan intervention. Allowing for the Entire Grandan debt to be exterminated in exchange for an Alliance and Free use of the Mississippi River.​


    In her more favorite subject, Diane III continued her sweeping military reforms, this time focusing primarily on the technological side of things. Dianian Rules of Merit were introduced splitting Enlisted, Commissioned Officers and Noncommissioned Officers into three separate chains of command with the later two being restricted to the nobility and wealthy. A nice byproduct of the reforms was the reputation of previous major military reforms undertaken by Teenan and Diane herself allowing for increased morale across the armed forces a valuable benefit that would be put to use in the future.​


    Diane her new military to the test with an Invasion of Toulouse. A continuation from the previous war against the French Prince Diane's intent was to strengthen her new Iberian ally in Granada while also pushing further into Khitan ethnic provinces in Southern Aquitaine.


    Toulouse whos only allies of note were Bavaria was expected to roll over relatively quickly. In Cathay itself the war would be barely felt, allowing for Colonial and Military Advancements to further inspire technological advancements in Administration, production and manufacturing. As had become common since the Fall of the First Khitan Empire, Ventralis and Antwerp were bustling hives of technological innovation especially compared to the relative stagnation of the Imperial Era.​


    Prince Aymeric Liao of Toulouse would hold his last stand on the fields of Armagnac, a field of his own choosing. However, the French despite an advantage on the field soon found themselves hopelessly outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered by the Technologically and Tactically advanced Cathayan army resulting in a complete annihilation of Toulouse's remaining armed forces and the soon to follow Treaty of Poitiers.​


    The resulting treaty would result in Toulouse being forced to cede the Duchy of Valencia as well as all of its Ethnically Khitan and French Lands in France. Most of these lands would later be ceded to the Principality of Aquitaine as had been the running policy for the March to rule over the ethnically French territories taken in the Kingdom of its namesake.


    With yet another successful war in Europe Diane had decided to cease her conquests at home and once again turn her focus entirely outwards. America remained a vast untamed wilderness waiting to be conquered and colonized and as a nice byproduct, No European power of any worth cared much what the locals had to say about it. However Diane had another ambition, one that would set Cathay on a Path of Destiny, one that would ultimately cost the Empire thousands of lives but would one day save it from complete destruction.​



    For almost a Millennium the Khitan had marched West. Now it was time to sail east.

     
    Chapter 16: Kamikaze
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    Chapter 16 Kamikaze

    The New Direction for the Empire would be centered past the Americas, in Asia. America had become a messy free for all between many different players, Europe had an established Balance of Power already set in Cathay's favor. In Faraway India, Indonesia and China however there lied abundant opportunities for trade and with trade would come power at home to the Fledgling Manufacturing Industry.


    In the Yellow Sea the Hosokawa Shogunate and the Ming Dynasty, both Colonial Powers themselves on the western coast of America had just signed the Peace Nagasaki, Resulting in the Hosakwa Shogunate ceding most of its american Colonies to the Ming as well as agreeing to pay reparations for the gold convoys sunk off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands by Japanese Pirates. Japan was a new Power in the world, having recently emerged from a violent several century long civil war known as the Sengoku. Three Major powers remained on the Island chain, Uesugi who had gathered together a collection of Allies against Hosokawa dominance of the Islands, The Hosokawa Shogunate, a hereditary military dictatorship ruled by the Hosokawa Clan and her Vassals and the Divine Emperor, a primarily religious figure whose authority was not well understood outside of Japan.​


    Far away from East Asia Cathay was slowly but surely encroaching into Asia, starting with the conquest of the Coastline of the Large Island of the Antemoro, or Madagascar. Unprepared for Cathayan Warships and Marines the natives of the Island quickly found their fleet annihilated and their coastal settlements put blockade and invasion. Rather than overextending Cathayan forces held the coastline and waited for favorable peace terms which did come eventually. The Antemoro would cede much of the interior and Northern coastlines of the Island as well as make an agreement not to trade or even contact other Europeans. A Preamble to future conquests down the road.​


    In Japan the Defeat of the Hosokawa against the Ming Chinese had resulted in a Coup by the Uesugi. After a Year long siege and standoff outside the Shogunate Capital of Kyoto Hosokawa Yoriharu, An Exiled Uncle of the then ruling Shogun arrived on Kyushu with an Army of foreign Mercenaries, mostly Asians but with some Cathayan and British regiments as well. In a swift campaign Yoriharu crossed over onto Honshu and marched up the length of the Island, reaching the Capital after only four months.

    Details of the resulting battle are vague, but the end result was Yoriharu's Nephew was beheaded by the Uesugi Daimyo and Yoriharu was named Shogun after hunting down the remaining rebel forces and putting them to the sword.


    With the Uesugi destroyed the Clans of Japan were now united under Hosokawa Yoriharu, whose first act was to use his new fleets to cease shipments of reparation gold to the Ming Chinese and modernize the Army and Navy along European standards​


    However the State of Yoriharu's Japan was unstable to say the least. The Shogun was over Sixty Years old and had no children to his name upon taking the Helm. Rather than commit to producing an Heir, Yoriharu instead named his Toddler Grand Nephew Sumimoto as his Successor rather than give the Shogunate over to one of his Generals. Yoriharu however despite his controversial decision was a magnificent ruler, officially ending the Sengoku through a sweeping wave of reforms that included the heavy restriction of Social Movement, Limiting the Availability of Weapons of War among the Samurai and Peasant Classes, and the Banning of Christianity within Japan itself. However Yoriharu would not close Japan off from the outside world, instead seeking alliances against the Ming and establishing valuable trade ties with Persia, Punjab and Cathay all of Whom had interest in breaking into the Valuable trade lanes of East Asia.​


    Meanwhile back in Europe, a Professor at the Newfound University of Nantes had published a paper regarding the Sovereignty of the State. An entirely foreign concept for Many, Professor Jaques Monforte proposed in his 1635 Paper simply titled 'The State' that Countries no longer operated on the lines of mere dynasty but by the Peoples that served it, namely referring to the growing Royal Bureaucracy that Monarchies were growing increasingly reliant upon over local nobility or the clergy.

    Among several points proposed by Monteforte was importance of the establishment of Sovereign Borders so that Governments could more efficiently govern and that frontier peoples who often had more suspect allegiances could no longer half handedly play rival government officials off each other for some degree of autonomy.​


    A Popular Sponsor of the Idea was Diane herself who had Monteforte's work given exposure across the country, not just in intellectual circles. Cathay's embracement of the growing centralization movement had accelerated it further down the path of becoming a True Absolute Monarchy with the State Answering the the Sovereign and its advisors, and the Pillars of power only holding a supporting role in matters of government.


    In Asia Cathay continued to seize coastal territories in the Indian Ocean growing further and further to the valuable spice Islands. It was important for these Islands to be taken as the various peoples of the Indies were isolated enough that European Traders had to rely Upon the Malacca and other Indochinese Traders as middlemen for Spices, Silk and Chinaware.

    With the Home country closer however these middlemen could be cut out and spices bought directly, increasingly profitability massively. Meanwhile the State benefited from increased tax income. The Clergy meanwhile had a new pet project.​


    The Reharmonization of Islamic Faiths was a very real possibility within the Priesthood since the colonization of Sub Saharan Africa where Sunni Islam had managed to escape the Zunist Wave in the 9th Century. However it was always a small project as the Monarchy never felt the need to devote significant resources to African populations that were only useful as intermediaries in the Slave Trade so that far greater resources did not need to be expended colonizing further into the Jungle.

    With the conquest of Madagascar however this changed as now very valuable islands and port cities would be populated primarily by Muslims and for the peace to be maintained Zunism would once again need to accommodate these peoples.


    In India specifically the Geopolitical position was so far different than in Africa and America for Cathay. With powerful forces existing in the Subcontinent Cathay could not simply take what it wanted and expect to stay for long. Thus Khitan Merchants looked to the Irish and their vast success in profiting off of Trans Atlantic Trade. The Irish upon first glance on a map were minor partners in America, with small colonies throughout or often none at all.

    Further investigation however revealed that the Irish did not need a vast colonial empire to make almost 70% of their annual revenue from trade and taxation on American Trading Companies. The Irish, being far more tolerant and open to fair trading with native states in Central America and the Andes had effectively dominated the economies of these regions by moving native silver, Gold and other goods across the atlantic and selling them in Europe, but that was only half the story.

    The Irish rather than manage everything at a government level had established several semi autonomous companies in Patagonia, The Gold Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico whose sole object above all else was profit and goods production. In doing so the Irish soon found themselves being the primary supplies of Slaves to the Italians in South America, while also dealing in the Fur, Gold and Sugar Trades.

    This approach for is success was put into effect with the Establishment of the Government backed Khitan East India Company whose objective above all else was to control the Spice Trade moving through Madagascar, Ceylon and the Far East. To this end the company was afforded several privileges, including allowance of the Fleet of India and an entire detachment of Imperial Marines for use in protecting eastern trade.​


    It did not take long before the Khitan East India Company made its first move to secure Trade moving through India. Ceylon, being an Island and major hub on the sea route to Persia and the Middle East was a natural first choice for a Company Outpost. The Raj of Chola Nadu who held the Island was not however interested in allowing a company office within Madurai or on Ceylon and threatened to Embargo Khitan traders entirely.

    The response was swift with Imperial Marines deploying onto the Island and a full blockade following. However the Indians had prepared for this possibility and raised a Garrison Twenty Thousand Strong to resist the Empire.​


    What the Indians did not expect was a professional army to land on the Island complete with modern Culverines and State of the Art Weapons. The Feudal Militia while greater in number if non gunpowder weapons were factored were in practice half the size of the invading force as Khitan Cavalry and Cannon made short work the Ceylonese Irregulars, forcing a Line battle with what troops there were on the Island with modern weapons. The Result was an absolute slaughter.


    Rather than risk Khitan Reinforcements and an Invasion of the Mainland Holdings the Chola Nadu surrendered the Island to the Khitan East India Company and agreed to pay out a series of reparations to the Company. The Island and the Reparations gained by the Company would fuel Imperial ambitions further and further east. The Funds gained from the Seizure of Ceylon alone would go towards a University in the growing Imperial city in Orleans.


    Of course Cathay was not Alone in the Far East, Other powers were gathering strength and building their own Empires beyond the Cape, and this fact would Push Diane and her descendents even harder east.




     
    Chapter 17: Equal and Opposite.
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    Chapter 17: Equal and Opposite.

    The Conquests in East Africa and Southern India quickly turned into a profitable endeavor. Since Cathay controlled the Cape of Good hope and had a significant presence along the west african coastline Trade could now, effectively flow from Ceylon to Antwerp without the use of Intermediary Italians or Persian traders. However this quickly would upset many powers who now found themselves being marginalized by the growing power of Imperial Cathay, as well as more minor Colonial powers such as the Irish, British and Spanish.​


    The Greatest of the Indian Powers, the Empire of the Punjab in response to European presence in India consolidated rapidly. While the Punjabi were not technologically backward like the African states, they had a powerful rival in the form of Persia to the west and Ming to the distant east. Cathay in the south meant that it was now effectively trapped between three of the worlds great powers, and it needed to do its best to keep European interest in India, purely economic.​


    In the Six years after the taking of Ceylon the Rajas of Punjab and Rajasthan the two most powerful forces in the Northern Subcontinent met in Delhi to finalize a royal marriage between the two states, however many smaller states sent representatives in advance asking for protection from Cathay, Persia and the Ming.

    Sensing Opportunity the Rajadom of Punjab took leadership at the conference, offering union with all the smaller states of India while also continuing its efforts to place Rajastan within personal union via marriage. After nearly a year of negotiations leading up to and past the Wedding at Delhi finally the Confederation of Indian Nobility had reached a consensus and had drafted a constitution.​


    The Peace of the Indus, and following Treaty of Zunistabad(Islamabad) meant the first unification of the Indian Peoples under the Panjabi Royal dynasty. Culturally diverse the Indian Confederation was unlike anything seen in the world before, with the various princes having large amounts of autonomy within the country.​


    Europeans who had been moving their countries in the complete opposite direction had called the Decentralized Princely federation a medieval abomination at the time. The Geopolitics of the new state however told a different story. Now with her borders at the Himalayas and the Mountains of Afghanistan Punjab now was buffered against the Ming and Persian Empires, while also having a large enough army to successfully resist any European Invasion.

    While two states remained out of the Princely federation, India, or Bharat in less than a decade established itself as a great power once again and had completly changed the Priorities of the Khitan East India company, to look for easier prospects further east rather than risk the Ire of the unified princes.​


    The Company found these opportunities in the seizure of the south Malay Peninsula and the Valuable port of Pasai. It was here the East India company established its first real headquarters on the Island of 'Singapore'. The First real benefit of this easterwards shift was of course easier access to the Spice Islands, but also Localized Production of Silk and Chinaware. Making Cathay the first and only country at this time to deal in Asian porcelain by Sea.​


    The response in Europe was the English-Swedish rivalry officially ending over the coming treaty of London and the Marriage of Princess Elizabeth of Britain to King James V of Sweden. With how the last royal marriage of note running Cathay's prospects for further influence in India this time Diane would need to intervene.

    Diane sent overtures to King James with her intent to protect Pommerania, who had just been abandoned by the English. James responded with an invitation to the Congress of London, for fear of Bohemia and Cathay both intervening to stop the annexation of Jutland. At the Congress Diane offered to buy Seminoland, granting the 12 Provinces more security against foreign aggression while the English and Swedish land deals in Mexico and Canada respectively would continue.​


    The Swedes accepted with several concessions. First the price of Florida was placed high, at 2 years of Annual Income for Cathay, An official border agreement between Vinland, English Mexico and the 12 Colonies and Finally Cathayan financial and military aid in the annexation of Jutland.​


    All of which Diane agreed to, despite the Jutland agreement possibly jeopardizing the Khitan-Czech Alliance in the future. The result was Sweden remained firmly in Cathay's orbit despite making friends with the British. Borders in America were cleaned up but more importantly Scandinavia was one step closer to becoming a reality.​


    However before the War for Jutland, the Italians once again decided to mess with the established Order of Europe and attacked the Sicilians for their lands in Sicily and Southern Italy, drawing in the Bavarians, Lithuania and the Kurds. Honorbound to protect the Italians, Diane marched through the Rhineland to push the Bavarians out of the war.​


    Outnumbered the Bavarians were stuck fighting within their own territory and the alps while the Sicilians managed the defense of Southern Italy. However the Bavarians were largely outnumbered here and hoped to Cathay out Baden to some extent to buy time for the Sicilians.


    The resulting Battle of Heidelberg ended in a complete disaster for the Bavarians who despite superior numbers had lost nearly a fourth of its armed forces. The disaster at Heidelberg was widely believed to have been possible due to the sudden sickness and death of General Hans von Augsburg who had commanded his troops to the field without him.

    Augsburg's lower officers found themselves confused and squandered their initiative allowing for Cathay to hold off the first major assault and use its superior numbers of cavalry to catch isolated divisions and shatter them. On the Fourth day of the battle General Alan Zahra, an Italian sent to manage the Cathayan front in Bavaria, marched through the german center and shattered the army.​


    A Half year later Officers and reinforcements arrived from Antwerp, effectively ruining any chance of a Victory for Bavaria on the Rhineland front. Instead Bavaria turned south to the Crucial siege of Trent, where the Italians had moved in in hopes of relieving the fortress city. What followed was another battle where once again the Bavarians were routed due poor terrain and inferior positioning.​


    Rather than face occupation the Bavarians sued for peace in the following months, ceding the Silver Mines of Tirol as well as making other border adjustments in the Northern Alps with Italy, as well as renouncing claims to several Italian territories. Bavaria was out of the war, and effectively so Was Cathay, making the war purely an Italian affair for which Diane could care less for.​


    Meanwhile in Asia, The Hosokawa and Ming were once again coming to blows. The Ming had intervened in Hokkaido and seized Japanese provinces under the pretense of protecting the Ainu. However the war had bloodied and drained the Ming who were unprepared for a long Guerilla war on the Island by the Japanese. This had unfortunately for the Ming made them look weak despite their victory, so much so that the East India Company and Imperial council was preparing for something Grand.​

    With Cathay in East Asia, and the European Order settled once again it was time to push into new Frontiers.​


    Diane, with support from the Japanese, her Imperial council and the Khitan East India company declared the Chinese Mandate of Heaven to be false. Instead claiming that China could only be ruled by a European Monarch backed by the Faith of Kenzai, and the Blood of Conquerors.



    The Future Price of Such a Declaration however, would send shockwaves around the modern world.​




     
    Chapter 18: The Invisible Hand
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    Chapter 18: The Invisible Hand

    The Idea of a Colonial Empire had become the all encompassing dream for many of the great Powers of Europe. Already the nations that had swallowed the immense investment to set out and not only settle the new world and establish trading ties in Africa and india but also defend the gains made in such places had seen their investments pay themselves off more than twice over. The Bohemian Empire and Kingdom of Bavaria were both feeling the pains of a lack of economic and technological progress that the more naval focused empires around them were enjoying.

    Of course with the development of Empires based not on a number of subjects or vast areas of land but on the economic profitability of territories far away from the mother country as well as trade the common wisdom of a successful empire had changed. The old way of doings things held a veneer of religious kinship and honorable behavior even if it wasnt always adhered to. Now however that veneer had begun to be painted over, by early capitalism.


    It was in this era of economic growth, between the state struggling to match the power of global trade that Godafres Dashi published his famous work, 'The Wealth of Nations' that detailed what he believed to be an ideal system in the new age. A system that left completly to itself would be guided by an invisible hand that ensured constant balance. Dashi's work would become massively popular and serve as the basis for economic thought from the point of its publishing and Diane herself did not hesitate in hiring the Man to serve as an economic advisor.​


    On the Political front Diane wasted no time insuring all her ducks were in a row. The Kingdom of England and Sweden had been properly dealt with and so the matter remained to expand Cathay's influence over Europe with the Treaty of Brabant.

    Europe and most of the world had been organized by a chaotic mess of treaties, acknowledgements and most importantly religious and familial authority often tied up in the politics of the era they were forged. This dejure and De-facto philosophy had allowed things to at least remain somewhat stable in the past, but now with the fall of landed feudal nobility subjects were quickly becoming citizens. Of course with no real records the borders of any country were blurred.

    The Treaty of Brabant changed this marking official borders of the various countries of Europe and the Near East while also establishing rules for proper contact in enforcing those new borders as well as territorial sovereignty. Signatories were also expected to define new internal divisions to be the basis of a new 'dejure' of the world, one that would replace the claims and disputes of old. Of course in some areas things were less than civil, but regardless Cathay's wealth and authority allowed the treaty to be signed, marking what is considered by many to be the official start of idea of 'The Nation State' in terms of law and practice.


    The Main beneficiary of the Treaty would be the Kingdom of Sweden who now enjoyed two treaties effectively recognizing its rule over the whole of the Nordic Peninsula as well as the De Jure Kingdom of Denmark and parts of Finland and the Baltic. In the following years King Erikr III of Sweden followed the British Model and announced the creation of the United Nordic Kingdoms of Scandinavia, More Commonly Known as the United Kingdoms of Scandinavia, or Just Scandinavia.

    The New Northern Empire stretched from Iceland to Bjarmaland with colonies in Vinland and Prussia, effectively making it one of the largest nations in the world. The Control over Neva, and the Sound Toll had given Scandinavia complete control over Baltic Trade, thus putting Sweden's longtime rival, the Bohemia Empire at long last at its mercy in the North.

    Though Scandinavia was not without its issues, Climate and population would remain a constant problem to be dealt with. Southern Sweden, and Denmark would continue to house much of the Economic heart of the Empire despite the vast expanses of territory in Norway and Finland. This meant nations such as Cathay and Great Britain with powerful modern navies, could still threaten the Scandinavians with invasions of Norway or Jutland and there would be little that could be done at least until Scandinavia fully switched to a navy more suited to fighting on the open seas rather than in the Baltic.


    Meanwhile for the first time Traders from Europe had begun to sail around the Cape of Good Hope and Arrive in China and in significant numbers. Considered faster and safer than the overland route, the Cape to Cape to Ceylon to China trade route overnight became the primary means for Western Europe and East Asia to interact. Silk, Chinaware and Tea were now all within reach though at significant cost.

    Ming China was a colonial power itself and expansionist and saw European meddling in Asia as a significant threat however due to a Chinese Belief of Superiority and the intricacies of how the Imperial Palace was run diplomacy was simply not an Option, The Ming considered themselves Supreme against all others and so did not need to play the Europeans off each other, the belief was simply that the Barbarians could be driven off one at a time.

    European Traders however were hungry for East Asian goods and so the first major sign of weakness came in the normalization of Smuggling in Southern China, sponsored and protected the Cathayan and British Fleets who had come to an agreement of a mutual naval base from Cathay's territories in Malaya, Greed and ambition enough to overcome a rivalry more than 100 years in the making.​


    Cathay also spent much of its time monopolizing the growing trade in Tropical wood giving birth to the Luxury Furniture Trade in Europe. With Mahogany and other woods being brought to European manufactories to be used in Furniture through the new process of Veneering. Considering Cathay's history of shipbuilding these woodworking advancements came rather naturally and Cathayan furniture became the finest of the world, forcing other countries with less favorable trade ties in southeast asia to focus away from Luxury and more towards the utilitarian.​


    The British based their focus on old wisdom, the Spice Trade was always lucrative in the past and so was promised to be in the future. Establishing a monopoly on east indian spices allowed the British to hold onto their relevance despite a meager showing in America compared to Cathay. Both major advancements in East Indian trade would benefit both parties ultimately as trade flowed into the English Channel regardless of which East Indian company brought it there.

    One of the Final acts of Empress Diane III was to sign the Mutual Anglo-Khitan Trade Treaty, unpopular among merchants the Treaty assured the English monopoly on East Indian Spices while doing the same for Cathayan Tropical wood. At the time Spices were considered to be the more valuable commodity and so the treaty was highly criticized, however the document held a secondary purpose, allowing the British to assume anti Piracy operations in the east while the Cathayan Navy could focus on other more pressing matters.


    Plans of course always went awry and Diane III's old age had become a source of concern with planned military actions in the east. Diane's Death was not unforeseen but was still sudden due to it not being from old age but a fall with the royal palace. Diane throughout her reign had been adventurous, callous and in some cases cruel. This often sociopathic attitude had allowed Diane to form the worlds first absolute monarchy but had made her a divisive character overall.

    What she did do however was further Cathay's position until it was indisputably the greatest power in the world, and set plans in motion to further those goals through diplomacy and plans for East Asia that could not only make Cathay the greatest power in the world but make the House of the Eastern wind the greatest the world has ever seen or would ever see again.


    Isabella would Inherit the Throne from her mother at 32 and continue the plans laid out in advance by her Mother. In sharp contrast to Diane however Isabella was strict and cared more than simply Empowering the Empire of Cathay and more on improving the Wellbeing of her subjects.

    The second Ruler of Cathay by the name of Isabella after Isabella the Ironside, the main focus of Isabella II's reign would be legacy. Diane has set the precedent for many things and established the precedent and foundation for absolute monarchy but Isabella would make such things law, something her Mother had more or less ignored whenever convenient. However the highlight of Isabella's reign would be her actions in China.


    Once again Japan and Ming had come to blows and once again Japan had been found lacking after a long and gruelling war. For the first time Japan would be made to pay tribute to the Emperor, the Gold of which would build the Emperor's new Palace in Beijing as a symbol of Chinese dominance.

    However the Tribute would never arrive, Cathayan and British Privateers upon hearing of the opportunity to strike at the weakened Ming fleets did so, in what would be the most successful pirate operation in the history of the world. A fortune large enough to build an empire was lost in the Yellow sea, some of it finding its way back to Japanese collaborators in the Shogunate, while other large parts falling the the British and Cathayan governments and the Privateers that stole it.


    The Ming were furious but ultimately could do nothing, a Long Guerilla war in Northern Japan had left the army out of spare recruits and low on supplies. The Navy was even worse as it was at sea the Japanese at least had parity. The Emperor however was not content to do nothing and so personally ordered the smuggling rings in southern China resulting in the seizure of several outdated Khitan warships. Isabella would use it as cuase for war, asserting claims to Formosa and Hainan under the premise of protecting Cathayan Settlements on the Islands, despite the demographics leaning heavily in favor of the local chinese.


    Khitan Marines landed first on Hainan backed by a large naval contingent. The Ming Leadership was put into shock that foreign Barbarians would even be so bold to attack the MIddle Kingdom from across the world over such petty reasons. More worrying however was the Emperor was on Formosa at the time of the Invasion to put down rebellions from his smuggling crackdown.​


    When Khitan Marines arrived in Formosa, the Ming Emperor has been trapped under an Island wide blockade for Half a Month. Determined to Run the foreign barbarians off Emperor Zaihou Zhu met Diane III's top general and supreme commander of the Khitan expeditionary force, Emrys Marzuban on the hills of Northern Formosa.

    Marzuban, an experienced veteran from countless European wars underestimated the Chinese at first, expecting that despite the Ming Emperor's presence on the field superior numbers, training and equipment would win the day. The Chinese fought hard as they could to defend their emperor forcing Marzuban to assume the field on the third day and put his artillery on the front line to supplement his numerical superiority.


    Cathayan guns changed the course of the Battle and the Emperor, humiliated evacuated the island under cover of darkness dressed as a peasant. When the tale broke the Ming's legitimacy was permanently damaged, but of course what was to come would damage it even more.