1618: Alternative Divergence [AH][IC-OPEN]

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Reverend Norv
Posts: 3209
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Sun Jul 24, 2022 10:49 am

Today we will visit six men on three continents, and consider the nature of hope.

* * *

The first man we have already met: Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the Pensionary of Holland and the most powerful man in the Netherlands. We find him at his home, this chilly day in early spring, for an informal meeting with three other men: Adriaen van Mander, Admiral-General of the States Navy; Cornelis Dortsman, Captain-General of the States Army; and Pieter Memling, chairman of the States-General Committee on Foreign Affairs. Many of the most important decisions in the Netherlands are made in this way: at personal meetings in the homes of powerful men, where it is possible to speak frankly without fear that one's words will be reported. Oldenbarnevelt and his colleagues are about to make an important decision, here in the Grand Pensionary's parlor. They know that when they speak with one voice, the support of the States-General will be largely a foregone conclusion.

This is not the sort of room where one imagines world-changing decisions being made. Oldenbarnevelt has a tidy brick home not far from the Ridderzaal. Inside, the walls are whitewashed, and the floors and furniture are polished hardwood, and fine clear light streams through windows of very pure glass. Paintings adorn the parlor's walls: a portrait by Frans Hals of Oldenbarnevelt himself, and a seascape by Jan Porcellis showing a merchant fluyt tossed in a storm. Nothing is gilded, nothing is marble or frescoed, but a large Ming vase worth a king's ransom stands in a corner near the window. From upstairs, the voices of children can be heard: Oldenbarnevelt's grandsons are visiting for the day, and they are playing with toy soldiers.

In the parlor, Oldenbarnevelt has the letter from Constantinople open on his knee. He is looking meditatively at the Porcellis seascape. He often does this when he has difficult choices to make. The ship in the painting is flying the Dutch tricolor. His whole long life, Oldenbarnevelt has known that his country was like that merchant ship: battered by storm and wave, forever on the knife's edge of capsizing, surviving only through the stubbornness and resourcefulness and skill of its captain and crew. Now Oldenbarnevelt is the captain, and the storm blows just as hard as ever.

"Why Thrace?" Pieter Memling is saying: a slender Fleming who built and lost three fortunes over forty years, and almost starved during the Siege of Antwerp back in '91. "There are no threats to the Romans in Thrace, except perhaps the Russians. And we have no reason to believe that they fear the Russians."

Cornelis Dortsman shakes his head. The Captain-General is a compact, wiry terrier of a man. He wears civilian clothes, but a well-worn sidesword hangs sheathed from a baldric. "The location is irrelevant," he growls. "Perhaps even intended as a distraction, like their praise of our skill and commercial reach. The point is to watch how we do it, and then replicate our construction techniques themselves, on the Persian and Arab frontiers. They pay for us to build one fort, and in the process learn to build a hundred more."

Oldenbarnevelt's bushy grey beard swallows the bottom half of his face, makes him hard to read. "And the problem with that is..."

"We are being short-changed," Dortsman immediately replies: the merchant's answer, through and through. "Asked to sell a trade secret for the price of a single item of inventory. And for what? So that a few of my colonels can be paid 'good prices for their services'?"

"That's not the real compensation," Memling says. Oldenbarnevelt smiles slightly, and nods at him to continue. Memling leans forward. "The real compensation is the friendship of the Emperor. The fort - and the techniques used to build it - are just our earnest money. Like Heer Doukas wrote, they could just as easily have simply tried to hire individual engineers. They want a relationship with the States-General, not just with a few Dutch engineers. They want the government of the Republic to be invested in their success."

"Because they intend to move into the Indian Ocean." That's Adriaen van Mander, speaking for the first time. In the Hague, word on the street is that Mander is a stuffed shirt. The Admiral-Generalty is a political prize: the States-General will only entrust the world's most powerful navy to a man who lacks the brains or guts to use it against the civilian leadership. Hence Mander: a lifelong protege of Oldenbarnevelt, an officer whose naval career was wholly undistinguished, but a man endowed with a reassuring lack of personal ambition.

All true enough. But here is where you and I, as travelers in time and space, know better even than the gossips of the Hague: despite all of that, Mander is smart. And for a titular admiral who never leaves the Netherlands, that might matter more than all the rest. It is, at a minimum, why Oldenbarnevelt picked him.

Now, Mander points to the letter. "Heer Doukas says so - that they have plans in the East. That is what the Erythraean Sea means, no? The Arabian Sea, and maybe the whole Indian Ocean. If the Greeks - "

"The Romans," Memling mutters.

Mander is unperturbed. "Yes, the Romans - look, the Romans must expect to control at least some of Egypt's Red Sea ports once this war is over. And they know that once they are in Oriental waters, they have ventured into seas where they are weak and we are strong." Mander looks at Oldenbarnevelt. "Heer Memling is right. This is about winning our trust. They are trying to get on our good side."

Dortsman scoffs. "Then why don't they come here to build a silk mill, instead of asking us to do them a favor? You win a man's friendship by giving him a gift, not by asking him to give you one."

"Not if you are the Emperor of the Romans," Memling notes drily. "As far as he is concerned, we should be devoutly grateful for the opportunity to build him a fort. What a sign of imperial favor even to be asked!" Memling chuckles, and Oldenbarnevelt smiles with one side of his mouth.

Dortsman shakes his head. "There's no accounting for the ways of tyrants. But really." He leans forward. "What do we get out of this? Assuming the Greeks - "

"Romans," Memling repeats.

Dortsman snorts. "- the Greeks are offering closer ties in exchange for this fort, what is that really worth to us? What do we care if Persia or Kochiraj sinks every Greek ship that tries to pass the Gate of Tears? I know what they want from us. What do we want from them?"

For a moment, there is silence. Memling shakes his head in frustration, but does not answer. Mander looks at Oldenbarnevelt. Oldenbarnevelt looks at the Porcellis seascape.

Finally, the Grand Pensionary speaks. "The wind is rising." He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. "Gaul will not slumber so very much longer. The Kings of Bohemia prepare to move against the Emperor, lest the Emperor move against them first. Our Republic is less than twenty years old. Without friends, it may not last another ten." Oldenbarnevelt glances at Memling. "We have no friends. Many clients; some coreligionists. No friends. Certainly none powerful enough to protect us by land. And none who have been so bold as to ask - however indirectly - for our protection by sea."

"This Greek letter is not an offer of friendship," Dortsman states flatly.

Reluctantly, Memling nods his agreement. "At least not yet."

Oldenbarnevelt smiles. "Ah, mijn heeren, but you forget. I am old." His grandsons suddenly clamor from upstairs, shrill boyish voices shrieking in excitement. Oldenbarnevelt chuckles. "Perhaps not as old as Constantinople, though it certainly feels that way sometimes. But old enough to know that no man ever walked from Antwerp to Oldenburg in a single day. And no man ever did it without taking the first step out his own door, either." He glances back at the painting. "A storm is coming. We will need friends. We must hope that after the first step toward friendship is taken, our men in Constantinople will be able to find the next, and the next after that."

"Hope," Dortsman repeats quietly.

"It has gotten us this far," Oldenbarnevelt replies. For a while, the room is quiet - but for the distant voices of children.

"Then I will call on van Goorle and some of my other engineers," Dortsman nods. "If we are going to build the Greeks a fort, we should at least build it perfectly."

"And I will speak to Huig de Groot," Memling says. Mander raises his eyebrows, and Memling shrugs. "He's the smartest man in the Netherlands, for my money, and he speaks better Greek than Sophocles. Who better to find his way into the Emperor's counsels?"

"See it done." Oldenbarnevelt stands. "And now, mijn heeren, you will leave me to my grandchildren for the afternoon." He waves his arms, pantomiming the grumpy old man. "Out! Out of my home, the lot of you!" Chuckling, the other officials gather up their hats and cloaks, and take their leave. Chuckling too, Oldenbarnevelt turns toward the stairs, and the children's voices at the top of them.

And he leaves the painting on the wall behind him - and all its storms - for another day.

* * *

From that tidy whitewashed room, come back out into the bustling streets with me. Follow the main road northwest to leave the Hague, out beneath the earthen bastions and their barricading canals, under the watchful gaze of the cannon. Continue for about thirty miles. Watch the barges hauling cargo up and down the canal that runs alongside the road; note how the urban sprawl never quite ends, instead stretching into a ribbon of smithies and breweries and inns that lines the highway. In time, we come to another landscape of bastions and canals and cannon, and as we pass through that, to another city: Amsterdam.

The largest port in the Netherlands, this; and almost certainly the largest port in the world. There are wonders aplenty down at the waterfront, guarded by the newly-constructed twodecker race-galleons of the Dutch Home Fleet. But our path leads elsewhere today: to a sprawling Gothic church in the center of the city, an ungainly mixture of brick and stone enlivened by gigantic windows. The stained-glass is mostly gone now, replaced by Protestant clarity: God's light, the colorless light of reason and unvarnished truth, streams through those titanic windows. Inside, the ancient stone buttresses and pillars are as cleanly whitewashed as Oldenbarnevelt's parlor. But the huge paving stones of the floor are unchanged: each inscribed with a name, a set of dates, a dedication. For this is the Oude Kerk, and the great and good of Holland have been buried beneath this floor for more than three hundred years.

Follow me through a low medieval doorway, and leave the main sanctuary of the church behind. Ascend a narrow flight of steps, and you will find yourself in an office. More whitewash here, but no Ming vases or paintings: just bookcases and a desk, both overflowing with leatherbound volumes and scraps of paper. The one visible patch of bare wall bears a plain, wrought-iron cross.

On each side of the desk sits a man. The man in front of the desk is short, slight, trim, with a sharp intelligent face beneath an old-fashioned square scholar's cap - the hat you always see in paintings of Luther or Calvin or Erasmus. He sits respectfully, but impatiently; this may not be his office, but he is in charge. His name is Jakob Reefsen, and he is from Deventer, in Overjissel. In a Reformed Church that theoretically has no overall ecclesiastical leaders, Reefsen is unofficially among the most influential ministers in the Netherlands: brilliant, ambitious, uncompromising, unafraid of controversy.

The man on the other side of the desk is quite different. A few years older, much taller and broader, with an enormous orange beard overwhelming his small lace ruff. Spectacles perch on the end of his bulbous nose as he reads the letter Reefsen has brought. This is Johannes Bogerman, the long-serving assistant minister of the Oude Kerk, and one of the most respected theologians and Biblical scholars in the Netherlands. He also has a reputation as simply the nicest man in the entire Dutch church.

At length, without looking up, Bogerman reads aloud the last sentence of the letter. "We believe that at the very least theological dialogue is necessary in order to avoid bloodshed between brothers in Christ." He glances over the rims of his spectacles at Reefsen. "We can certainly agree on that, I trust."

Reefsen smiles wryly. "This is the Dutch Reformed Church. The only thing we can ever all agree on is how much we love dialogue about everything we don't agree on." He nods toward the letter. "I wouldn't have thought to hear that sentiment from the Patriarch of Constantinople, though. What do you suppose he's up to?"

"I don't know. I doubt he expects to be persuaded of anything. Probably he hopes to persuade the rest of us of his point of view." Bogerman shrugged. "That is to be expected in any debate. It doesn't mean the debate is not worth having. Sometimes the Spirit breaks through even when we least expect to change our minds. To seek the truth is always to live in hope of that inbreaking."

Reefsen nods reluctantly. His expression makes it obvious that he is biting his tongue. Bogerman's tone is level. "I assume you have a different theory?"

"It's a prestige play," Reefsen says simply. "So the Patriarch can say he tried to stop the barbarous western schismatics from murdering each other over small differences. That's why he talks so much about the risk of bloodshed." Reefsen shakes his head. "The risk of it. As if it isn't already happening - as if the Empire isn't still burning our brothers alive, like they did our fathers fifty years ago."

"You should go," Bogerman suggests. "Say that. Bring their heads out of the clouds. Remind them what happens when we care more about being right than about being good Christians."

Reefsen glances up sharply, opens his mouth for a moment - then relaxes. He lets out a reluctant chuckle. "Well, I'm glad you feel that way, Johannes. But I won't be going." He smiles. "My own wife has made it clear that I don't know when to shut up. I'm hardly the best representative for our faith."

"Ah." Bogerman pauses: too honest to disagree, but too diplomatic to reach the obvious conclusion about what has brought Reefsen to his office. He clasps his hands over his ample belly.

Reefsen eyes him with amusement. "So," he says, "we have thought of a different candidate."

"We?" Bogerman asks the question dutifully, already knowing the answer.

"The Synod." Reefsen waves a hand. "I know we're not in session. But I've made the rounds: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Leiden, Brussels, Oldenburg. All the major consistories. The consensus is that you are the man to send."

"I am honored," Bogerman says softly.

"You speak excellent Greek, you served as the regent for the seminary at Leiden, and you listen more than you speak. Which is more than any other clergyman in this Republic can say, present company included." Reefsen shrugs. "It may be an honor, but you were the obvious choice. Will you do it?"

There is a long pause. Bogerman looks back down at the letter. He is a surprisingly hard man to read, you notice: his great gentleness flattens out all the hard edges of his personality, and renders him inscrutable. Reefsen watches with obvious impatience.

Finally, Bogerman smiles and tugs gently at his huge red beard. "Of course."

"Good!" Reefsen slaps his thighs in satisfaction and stands. "Good. God's be the glory. The University of Leiden will send a letter of introduction. I've spoken to the regents." He grins. "As well to let the Romans know from the start who wields the power in this church, eh? Just as it's always been - the professors."

Bogerman stands and shakes Reefsen's hand. "Thank you. I do not know what will come of this, but - thank you. For your trust."

"Ach. Well-merited. Go and preach the Gospel, and you'll have done all that we could ask of you." Reefsen waves a hand around the office, and the gesture encompasses the absurd overflow of books. "Now: pack up this library! The States-General are sending a squadron to Constantinople on the next ebb tide. I've arranged a berth for you." He turns toward the door, and pauses. "God go with you, Reverend Bogerman."

Bogerman nods, and raises a grateful hand. Reefsen chuckles and shakes his head, and closes the door behind him. And Johannes Bogerman takes a deep breath, and begins to pack his books: to seek the truth, and to live in hope.



To our Christian brothers, the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Antioch; the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; and the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We find in the Scriptures, enlightened by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the intermediary of human reason, the same truth that you find in the First Council of Constantinople: we are all one in Christ Jesus. Our divisions are not to be taken lightly, but they should not be cause for violence. Through dialogue and debate, we can create a space for the Holy Spirit to show all of us the error of our ways, and to guide us back toward unity. With humility and curiosity, and with a firm reliance upon the grace of Him who made us, all things are within our hope.

Like the Disciples in the lifetime of our Savior, our Church has no bishops, and so we cannot send to your Council any delegate who holds that office. But we pray you accept, as your brother in Christ, the assistant minister of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam: the Reverend Johannes Bogerman, of Frisia. He has served with distinction as a regent of this institution, with responsibility for theological studies; he has preached the Gospel for many years in this land with great distinction; he has produced scholarship that has opened our eyes to new lessons of the Scriptures; and he has served honorably and regularly on the governing Synod of our Church. There is no one better suited to learn from our Christian brothers in other lands; to teach them whatever our brothers can learn from us; and to discover those areas of common ground that may draw us closer together, and save us all from bloodshed.

The Reverend Bogerman should arrive with the same States Navy squadron that bears to Roman shores the ambassador and military advisors of this land. We pray you welcome him as you would a different kind of Prodigal Son: long separated more by distance than by error, and arrived home at last to share what he has learned, and to discover what he has not.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Christiaan van Schooten
Regent of the University of Leiden

* * *

It is six weeks later now, and more than a thousand miles away. Warmer, thanks to the passage of both time and distance. Golden sun; a soft Mediterranean breeze. Everything glows here, with the Aegean islands fading behind us and the distant towers of Constantinople ahead. The clear grey light of the North Sea seems a long way away.

Six ships glide through the crystal-blue waters of the Aegean. It is obvious that States-General intended to make an impression with their answer to Emperor Mikhael's letter. This is a full squadron of the States Navy's newest race-galleons: straight-sided ships designed for line sailing and broadside fire, seventy meters long, with two gun decks and forty 24-pounders each. All three masts are fully square-rigged, with lateen staysails for control, and the ships move fast under a great press of snowy sail: the sea foams white at each prow, and each wake ripples the waves for hundreds of meters behind. And from each mizzenmast billows an enormous tricolor of orange, white, and blue.

On the deck of the foremost ship stand three of the most remarkable men that the Netherlands will produce in this century. One of them we have already met. Johannes Bogerman leans on the rail, and lets the spray from the ship's bow blow his great red beard back over his shoulder, and he beams with childlike joy. Next to him is a young man in the buff leather coat and heavy steel cuirass of a Dutch States officer; he doesn't look like he smiles much, but Bogerman's glee is infectious, and this young man wears an odd unwilling half-grin. His name is David van Goorle, and centuries from now, he will be remembered as one of the first modern men to suggest the existence of a basic particle called an atom. For now, he is regarded simply as a prodigy of military engineering, and one of the greatest fortifications-architects in the States Army.

A few steps behind Bogerman and Goorle - safely away from the rail - stands a slightly built man in his mid-thirties, with boyish features and prematurely greying hair and a fussy little goatee; next to him sits a plain-faced woman with lively, intelligent eyes and a constant slight smile. These are Huig de Groot - the newly-appointed Dutch ambassador to the Roman Empire - and his wife Maria. The pair are speaking quietly to each other, and Groot gestures animatedly as the dome of the Hagia Sophia comes into view.

All three of these men are remarkable, but Groot is in a league of his own. He wrote his first treatise on the liberal arts at fifteen; he was named the official historian of the Dutch Republic at seventeen. At twenty-six he wrote Mare Liberum, and invented the modern concept of freedom of navigation. Some day, you will know him as Hugo Grotius: the father of international law.

But in 1618, he is a former child prodigy whose career has stalled and left him about two-thirds of the way up the Republic's bureaucratic totem pole. Until a few months ago, he was facing the prospect of decades of respectable, stultifying government legal work. So Groot leaped at this opportunity: a chance to represent his home in the City of the World's Desire. Its libraries! he is saying to Maria. Its ancient forum! Its archives! Its academies! And Maria smiles, because she has not seen Groot like this for almost a decade now.

These three men know each other, by the way. That's not a great surprise. The Netherlands are still a small society - two million souls - and people of exceptional talent tend to find themselves in the same circles. Bogerman had Groot over for tea when Groot first arrived in Amsterdam; Groot helped Goorle secure his engineering commission from the States Army; Goorle and Bogerman correspond about the relationship of natural philosophy and Christian doctrine. When this squadron left the Hague for Constantinople, these three were pleasantly surprised to meet each other on the docks at the naval arsenal.

Now, their journey is almost over. Groot has slipped, half-consciously, into Greek as he discusses the history of the ancient city ahead. Maria nods along: she speaks Greek, of course, or else Groot would never have married her. It is more or less a love match, this, or at least a friendship rather than a business arrangement. This sort of companionate marriage is more common in the Netherlands than elsewhere in Europe, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most important is the simple fact that most Dutch women can read. So Groot rattles on about the teíchi tou Theodosíou, and Maria plays along and asks the occasional question back.

Goorle glances over his shoulder, and then turns to Bogerman. "My Greek isn't nearly that good," he says quietly.

"Neither is the Emperor's, I will wager," Bogerman chuckles. "We've both known Huig long enough not to compare ourselves. We are mere mortals."

Goorle grins, but the expression fades quickly. He studies Bogerman's face. "You are not anxious about what lies ahead?"

"I doubt very much they invited us all this way just to blind and castrate us." Bogerman's elbow gives Goorle a gentle dig in the arm.

"Not that kind of anxious," Goorle says.

"Ah." Bogerman sighs, and leans on the rail. "The responsibility, then."

"I was told that the friendship of the Roman Empire might depend on how good a fort I build. You've been invited to try to restore the unity of the Christian Church. Huig - well, even I don't know what he's supposed to do, but if it were easy then they wouldn't have sent Huig." Goorle shakes his head. "We are a long way from home here, and I feel the world on my back. Don't you?"

Bogerman stares out across the water. Around the docks of Constantinople, dozens of ships already lie at anchor. Many of them, even from this distance, are recognizable as fluyts flying the Dutch tricolor. Bogerman sighs. "Yes," he says. "I feel it. But I don't trust it."

Goorle's brow furrows. "What do you mean?" He notices that Groot's torrent of Greek has fallen silent, and glances over his shoulder. Groot and Maria are quiet too, looking at Bogerman: waiting, listening.

"There are many views on Providence in our Church," Bogerman says carefully. "And many productive discussions to be had about that idea. I hope to have some of them here. But I know of no man who has read the Bible, and come away believing that the whole world rests on his back." The churchman shakes his head. "No. None of us could bear that weight. And so He who alone could bear it, bore it for us. And He bears it for us still. We are here to do His will, and He will see it done in us. That must be our hope."

Goorle looks at Groot. Groot seems to mull over Bogerman's words. In the distance, the docks grow rapidly closer. A signal flag races up the mast of the lead race-galleon, and like a synchronized flight of seabirds, the six ships tack to landward and form a perfectly straight, evenly-spaced line as they glide in toward the harbor.

Bogerman claps a beefy hand on Goorle's armored shoulder. "Not everything I feel is true just because I feel it, David. Nor you. That doesn't mean we can help what we feel. It just means we don't have to trust it. At least not more than we trust to our hope in God."

From the quarterdeck, the ship's captain waves a hand. "We have arrived," he announces. Goorle looks over the rail, and as he watches, the race-galleon comes smoothly to a halt alongside the dock: the wind spills from the enormous sails, and ropes fly out to make the ship fast. A delegation of what can only be Roman officials waits - on the first solid land the Dutch have seen in weeks.

Goorle looks at Bogerman, who looks at Groot. Groot thinks for a moment, and then takes a deep breath of salt air, and smiles with fierce brave hope. He turns to Maria. "Shall we, my dear?"

She takes his arm. "Why not, Heer Ambassador?"

Were it not for all the other Dutch merchants on the docks of Constantinople, this delegation would be exceptionally incongruous. Bogerman and Groot both wear plain black clothes - tall boots, breeches, doublets, shoulder-cloaks - enlivened only by a white ruff in Bogerman's case, and a white lace collar in Groot's. Groot and Maria are flanked by two guards in harquebusier's harness: buff leather coats, steel cuirasses, matchlock carbines and broadswords. There is no silk or embroidery, and no gold save for Groot's ancient chain of office: he is still theoretically the pensionary of the city of Dordrecht, and the chain goes with the title. But if you look closely, you will see other signs of pride. The lace at Groot's collar, and at Maria's neck and cuffs, is of Flemish work, and incredibly fine. And the black woolen clothes that all of the delegation wear - those are broadcloth, with a surface so smooth that only ten thousand blows of a fuller's hammer can account for it.

Of course, in the Netherlands, the wind powers fullers' mills, and the world's finest broadcloth is affordable. Which is the point in wearing it for an audience with the Roman Emperor.

As the Dutch and Roman delegations meet on the docks, Groot doffs his tall capotain hat, tucks it beneath his arm, and makes a low and respectful bow. "Your servants, sirs." His Greek is accented and a bit archaic, but the grammar and syntax are utterly flawless. "I am Huig de Groot, pensionary of Dordrecht, and emissary of the States-General of the Netherlands to the court of the Emperor. My colleagues and I are most pleased to make your acquaintance."

* * *

On the far side of the Earth, another Dutch warship draws near to another port. It is at least as a consequential a meeting, this one - perhaps even more consequential, in the long run. But it will be almost a year before anyone in the Netherlands knows it has even happened, and decades before anyone appreciates its significance.

We, of course, are not bound to such a limited perspective. Come. Let's have a look.

Even this late in the spring, the early morning breeze off the Sea of Japan still carries a chill, here in Busan. Still, it is good sailing weather, and the light is clear. So the citizens of Busan can clearly make out a sight that Joseon has never seen before. From the south, riding the morning wind up the Western Channel of the Korea Strait, come five shapes. At first, they look like seabirds floating on the waves: all that can be seen are the distant sails, a great press of white canvas, like feathers. As they draw closer, the ships beneath the sails come gradually into view. There are two frigates and three fluyts there, though few in Busan know these words yet. But the difference is obvious. The fluyts are broad and ride low in the water, their pear-shaped holds crammed with treasure. But the frigates are taller, their straight sides lined with gun ports concealing dozens of cannon. And from their mizzenmasts flies a flag that some of the better-travelled denizens of this trading city may already recognize, from encounters in Japan or China: a tricolor of orange, white, and blue, with interlocking letters at its center. VOC.

Closer the ships come. You will note - as will the residents of Busan - that the frigates keep their gun ports closed. The ships approach slowly, too: reefing topsails and topgallants, tacking gradually toward the docks of Busan under mainsails alone. Their behavior, in short, is deliberately - even theatrically - nonthreatening. They could not possibly be mistaken for pirates.

As the ships near the harbor, the men aboard them come into clear view. They are a motley crew. There are Malays and Javanese, Chinese and Siamese, Tamils and Arabs. They fly up and down the ships' soaring rigging as if they had been born on a topmast yard. Among them are a few white men, too - but mostly, those stand on the quarterdeck of each ship, studying the Busan waterfront through ornate brass spyglasses. The staid black vestments of Holland are a world behind them, and these men wear considerably more practical and personalized attire: leather coats, canvas boat cloaks, battered broad-brimmed hats with brightly colored feathers. All carry swords; most carry two or three pistols thrust through a broad belt or sash. As more and more sails are reefed in, there is less and less work to be done in the topyards, and the sailors descend to join the Dutch officers: a crowd of men from three continents, all lining the starboard rail to squint at the Busan harbor - and at the people who are gathering there to squint back.

At length, one of the officers - a very big man, six feet tall and powerfully built - makes his way to the fo'c'sle rail. He consults for several moments with the man next to him: a lean Japanese sailor with a samurai's topknot, who gestures emphatically as he speaks to the Dutchman. Then the big captain raises a brass speaking trumpet, and aims it at the harbor, and speaks in quite fluent Cantonese - a trade language understood all along this coast of East Asia.

"Good morning! Hail and well met to the great city of Busan. I am called Philip de Vries, and I represent the States-General of the Netherlands." Though these are the first Dutch ships Busan has seen, they are not the first Dutch ships it has heard of: the traders of this city have crossed paths with the East India Company many times, from the docks of Nagasaki to the bazaars of Ayutthaya. There are men on these docks who will recognize Vries' introduction.

The captain sucks in a deep breath, and continues at the top of his lungs. "We would fain be friends of Joseon, and of the Emperor, long may he reign. We bring gifts for his Imperial Majesty, and we offer the friendship of our country. We come in peace, hoping only for trade upon terms of freedom and fairness." Vries pauses. "May we have permission to dock?"

* * *

But the resolution of that scene is a story for another day. For now, come away: let the chilly waters of Busan harbor fall away, and fly with me the many thousands of leagues back - back over tundra and taiga and steppe and sea - back to the Hague, and to a familiar, tidy, whitewashed room. It is the parlor of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, where the Pensionary of Holland sits with yet another letter in his hand: alone beneath his window, so that the afternoon sun can illuminate the writing and ease his old eyes.

The letter is from Willem Janszoon: that dashing explorer whom we last met in the act of presenting the States-General with a koala bear. It is a report, full of place names that you will not recognize - because in the times you know, these places have other names. Names like Sydney, instead of New Ostend; Brisbane, instead of New Dunkirk; and Australia, instead of New Flanders.

A confusing letter, then, as much for us as for Oldenbarnevelt. Still, it is worth a look. Let's peek over the Pensionary's shoulder, and read along.



New Ostend
April 1618

the Pensionary of Holland, Heer Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, dear sir:

I write to inform you as to the progress of the expedition to Terra Australis that their Lordships the States-General have so wisely commanded. I am pleased to report the establishment of two forts and trading posts upon the coast of that strange and distant land, and the discovery of a number of useful and beneficial resources - including, most notably, gold.

Upon receiving the orders of the States-General, I proceeded immediately to Batavia, where I communicated the command of the States-General to the officials of the East India Company, and presented my commission
pro tempore to Captain Vingboons of the States Navy Marines. With Captain Vingboon's two hundred Marines, and four ships crewed by some twelve hundred Company men, I sailed for that bay on the northern coast of Terra Australis where I had previously found a promising estuary.

Unfortunately, I found the River Maire entirely dry. (I trust you will not inform the Governor-General that the river I named for him apparently only flows for a few months out of the year.) Being well-stocked with supplies and fresh water, I opted to continue along the coast of the continent, seeking fairer harbors, but for several months I observed only league after league of desolate brush or low, stinking jungle. At length, the coast began to turn away toward the south, and I followed it into more temperate climes, where I finally discovered a fair harbor: admittedly filled with sandbanks, but capable of navigation by a shallow-draught fluyt, and exceptionally rich in fish, lobsters, oysters, and sea life of all kinds. The coast beyond was temperate, and the bay was fed by a beautiful river that provided abundant fresh water.

Observing the plenitude of necessities, I made land and replenished my supplies. At that time, I also planted the flag of the Republic and named Terra Australis as New Flanders, in honor of that county's valiant defiance of the Emperor's legions during the late war. Over the course of a week, my men constructed a fort suitable for the use of about five hundred persons, from which site I write you this letter. I have named it New Dunkirk.

When we had finished construction of the fort, my second-in-command - a young man named Anthony van Diemen, whom I commend to the attention of the States-General - continued south along the coast with two ships. About 450 miles further down the coast, he discovered a much more magnificent bay: a natural deepwater harbor reaching ten miles into the heart of New Flanders, interrupted by dozens of splendid headlands that create hundreds of sheltered coves. It is the most magnificent shipyard that Providence ever yet crafted for the use of man. Captain van Diemen made landfall there, and established a second fort, which he titled New Ostend. We have been pleased to claim all the land between these two points for your lordships of the States-General.

Our progress has, of course, not been altogether smooth. This land, like most, is inhabited. Its people are as dark as Africans and entirely naked, and use spears tipped with stone - for they have not discovered even the bow and arrow. Despite their primitive arms, they are not at all pacific. When we commenced fishing at New Dunkirk, hunting at New Ostend, and taking on water at both forts, the natives responded first with loud shouts of indignation and then with hurled spears. Fortunately, their weapons could not pierce our armor, and we repelled their attacks with no loss of life - though we made great execution upon the enemy. We have captured two of the wounded natives, and have begun to teach them our language and to learn theirs in return. This process is slow so far, but progress is being made.

The land itself is strange - most unfriendly - perhaps cursed. There are more variations of snake, spider, scorpion, beetle, fly, bat, and centipede than I have ever seen. My men dare not venture to the privy without at least half-armor for fear of everything that bites, stings, or poisons in the night. I cannot blame the natives for their primitiveness, if they are obliged thus daily to struggle for survival against the very Devil's menagerie. But a few of this land's wonders are less obnoxious. Your lordships of the States-General will recall that I presented you upon my last visit with a small mammal that ate only a particular leaf. We have learned from our native prisoners that this leaf has remarkable properties as an antiseptic and an insect repellant: the indigenes grind it and smear it upon wounds or skin, to promote healing and repel flies. When boiled and distilled, these properties are increased most wondrously. I have sent a crate of this "eucalyptus" along with this letter, and commend it to your lordships' use in our colonies at the Orinoco Delta and along the African coast. It may prove a potent weapon against mosquitoes, and the quartern fever that they carry.

But our most important discovery here has been less wonderful and more lucrative. I can inform your lordships without doubt that there is gold in this country. Flecks of it are clearly visible along the stream-banks above New Ostend, presumably borne downriver from some richer lode up country. On a scouting expedition southwest of New Dunkirk, I discovered a rubble field of geodes, one of which held four ounces of gold embedded within its quartz. This discovery, too, I have dispatched along with this letter. The consensus of the Company prospectors and natural philosophers is that these finds cannot have been anomalies: not when we discovered them so soon after landfall, and several hundred miles apart. We have great confidence that in the dry badlands to our west, perhaps 100 miles from the coast, a fortune in gold waits - undisturbed by the natives or by any other human hand since the very foundation of the Earth.

To that end, I have begun preparing an expedition in force, and have sought more Marines and prospecting supplies from Batavia. I beseech the States-General's support for this venture, already well-begun and abundantly rewarded, in the form of a dedicated supply line from Batavia to New Ostend; I calculate that seven fluyts would be enough to meet the present needs of both forts on an indefinite basis. I also commend to your lordships' consideration my view that this country will, in the end, require a substantial population of European settlers. The natives have no use for gold and no skill at mining it, and so trade with them will not answer. Unlocking the treasures of this land will only be possible with Dutch miners and Dutch engineers. If the Company can recruit such men for market wages, so much the better; but if the States-General see fit to send a contingent of the States Army to assist our mining operations, I can assure your lordships that the investment will prove wise.

For my part, I will remain in New Flanders, dividing my time between New Dunkirk and New Ostend, until such time as our operations here are well-established and our connection to Batavia is secure. In your lordships' hands I leave the future of this most strange and promising land, whose vastness fills me with a thrill of hope such as I have never known.

Your most obdt. servant,

W. Janszoon

* * *

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt reads Janszoon's letter only once. He does not properly understand its significance - but how could he? Unlike you and me, he is a prisoner of his own time and place. And at this moment, he has bigger things to worry about, and even the news that Willem Janszoon has literally struck gold does not merit a second reading. Oldenbarnevelt has to be at the Ridderzaal, and he has to be there now. He grabs his hat and hurries out his front door and rushes toward the medieval stone hall, sweltering in his black wool beneath the summer sun.

They are already shouting when he arrives. Pieter Memling's tart, acid tones are mostly being drowned out by the stentorian bellow of Gerrit Reinders, the leader of the Oostfreesland delegation. "Good God, sir!" Reinders thunders. "Have you not read the damned thing? 'Henceforth, the punishment for Heresy against the Church shall solely be death by burning.' Solely!" Reinders waves an arm. He's a big man, with perpetual salt-and-pepper stubble and a yoke of muscle across his shoulders; he bears an ironic resemblance to Philip de Vries, who even now is shouting too, a world away in Joseon.

Here in the Hague, Reinders slaps the bench in front of him. "And what is heresy? Why, heresy is refusing to give the Pope his land back. How many churches, all across the Germanies, belonged first to the Papists? Don't you think that Rome would be delighted to see that land returned? And when the Saxons and the Scandinavians and the Bohemians refuse, what do you think will happen then? The Emperor has made his intentions plain. Have you so little regard for our common faith that you would see our brothers burned alive, and shrug your skinny shoulders, and go back to counting coin?"

Oldenbarnevelt lowers himself carefully into his high-backed chair at the table reserved for the Council of State. "You are too hot, Heer Reinders," the old man warns. He is right; Memling's Watergeuzen and Reinders' Gelovigen have always had their differences, but the two factions have been scrupulously respectful in the past. Without a Prince of Orange to mediate, all the Republic's leaders understand that their system of government requires a minimum level of comity. Or at least they used to understand that; now Memling's knuckles are tapping the council table in a drumbeat of repressed fury, and Reinders' face is flushed with rage.

Sure enough, Reinders rounds on Oldenbarnevelt. "With all respect to the Pensionary of Holland," he snaps, "I am not nearly hot enough. My lords, we know what this edict portends. We know because we have seen it ourselves, in our own lifetimes. The Inquisition!" Dozens of the older delegates recoil at once, flinching at the word alone. Reinders nods grimly. "Aye, we know what it looks like when the Emperor in Vienna chooses to send men to the stake. We know the heat of the flames on our faces as we were made to watch. We know the sound of it - the way a man screams until his voice shatters. We know the smell of it - "

"Good God, sir!" Memling cries. "Control yourself. We are concerned here with affairs of state - "

"We are concerned here with lives, Heer Memling!" Reinders' bellow echoes from the ancient rafters, and stirs the banners that hang from them. "Lives! The lives of men and women - aye, women too, or do you think that the Emperor has suddenly learned chivalry after he burned our wives and mothers for heresy and witchcraft? Lives, Heer Memling, the lives of men and women who share our faith and cheered our fight for freedom. Do you imagine that you are so far from Germany, in your Antwerp counting-house, that you will not smell the greasy smoke of our brothers being burned? Because in Oldenburg, we know that we are not."

"My loyalty is to my country," Memling snaps back. "To the United States of the Netherlands. To the Republic. And I will bear whatever stench I must in order to ensure this country's prosperity and peace and survival" - many of the Gelovigen are exclaiming now, trying to interrupt, and Memling's voice grows shrill and whip-sharp as he shouts over them - "Yes, Heer Reinders, survival - or would you rather Austria's armies ravage this country again, and the Inquisition rebuild its pyres in our cities? Is that the price of your Protestant solidarity with foreigners - with strangers? The ruin of our prosperity and the destruction of our Republic?"

"Then what would you have us do - you and your pirates?" The original Watergeuzen were privateers during the Dutch Revolt, and Memling and his faction have adopted their name with pride. Now, Reinders throws the word's origins in Memling's face. "Line our coffers, pray for the Saxons and Bohemians, and watch as they are massacred?" Renders leans forward. "And what then, Heer Chairman? When the Emperor reigns supreme over all Germany, and the Scandinavians are driven back to their barren homelands, and the whole continent of Europe has been divided between Austrian fanatics and Gaulish pagans, and we are surrounded on all sides by forty million foes - what then will you propose? Will trade and neutrality save our Republic then?" Reinders shakes his head. "I tell you, Heer Chairman: in the name of evading slavery, you would assure it. If we do not stand by our friends now, in the end we will have no friends left to stand by us."

Memling sucks in a breath, but says nothing. Because the truth, of course, is that Reinders is right. Transparently, unavoidably right. In the long silence that follows, a few of Memling's supporters have their heads in their hands. So many of the men in this room had prayed this day would never come, prayed that this terrible choice would pass them by. Today, they are facing the truth: those prayers are unanswered. Look at Pieter Memling's eyes. You can see the panic of a cornered animal.

Johan van Oldenbarnevent stands: hands planted on the tabletop, forcing his arthritic knees to hold him. You have observed him for a long time, and you know his mind: he is thinking of the Porcellis seascape on his parlor wall. The storm has come at last.

"The Scandinavian principalities within the Empire have invited the Protestant princes to gather in Stralsund," Oldenbarnevelt says quietly. "So I am reliably informed by the Committee of Safety, in any case. I move that we send Captain-General Dortsman as an emissary and advisor to those proceedings. By consensus?"

This is a minor concession, and Dortsman is not a follower of either faction. He was one of the prince's men, back when there was a prince. Memling does not object; neither do any of his supporters.

"Hearing no objection, the motion carries." Oldenbarnevelt clears his throat. "For now, I suggest that each man here write to the States of his province. When this council in Stralsund is over, Heer Dortsman will likely return with a list of aid that the Protestant princes seek from us. The provincial States must give their delegations to this assembly clear instructions; they must tell us what kinds of aid to give, and how much of it." Oldenbarnevelt looks between Memling and Reinders. "Because however strong our own feelings on this issue, mijn heeren, we sit in this hall only as representatives of our respective States. It is they, and not we, who must make the final decision."

Memling and Reinders both nod. The tension in the room begins to relax. Oldenbarnevelt takes a deep breath, and lays a steadying hand on Memling's arm. "However," he intones solemnly, "I must in good conscience say: while Heer Reinders burns too hot, he is not wrong. Not about this." Watch carefully: Memling's arm stiffens under Oldenbarnevelt's hand, but he does not interrupt. The Grand Pensionary continues: "The Republic cannot stand alone. We cannot allow the Emperor to destroy our allies and leave us isolated. On this, the imperatives of prosperity, security, and the Reformed faith all align." Oldenbarnevelt looks around the room. "We are the leaders of our country, my lords. Each man here must make the States of his province understand the stakes of this moment. When Heer Dortsman returns, I expect all ten of the provincial States to authorize all the support that could reasonably be required to ensure the survival of the Protestant princes of the Empire."

Memling abruptly sits down. Oldenbarnevelt gently pats his shoulder. "This course is not without expense," he says - to Memling and to the States-General, both at once. "Nor without risk. But to do aught else is slow and certain death. It is now our task, my lords, to convey that truth to the provincial States. Before it is too late."

A long, leaden silence follows. Gerrit Reinders has the good grace to look chastened rather than triumphant. But when the silence grows intolerable, he stands. "My thanks to the Pensionary of Holland," Reinders says quietly, "for his courage and his wisdom. He has led us through one war already. God grant that he will not be called upon to do the same again."

Oldenbarnevelt nods. "Amen," says Memling quietly. But in this cavernous, silent room, Memling's hope rings terribly hollow.
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Mon Jul 25, 2022 4:10 am, edited 5 times in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
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Intermountain States
Posts: 2045
Founded: Oct 12, 2014
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Intermountain States » Mon Jul 25, 2022 12:18 am

March, 1618
Busan Harbor
Empire of Great Joseon

While merchants and sailors who have engaged in trading and sea patrols across the East Sea and the Indian Ocean are no strangers to the Dutch ships, many who haven't looked in awe of unfamiliar vessels commanded by red headed barbarians. The arrival of the Dutch were noticed by guard towers at the harbor. Guard towers at the harbor quickly alerted Commander Yeong Ok-jin of the Busan garrison and Busan Governor Kim Sang-gun.

The garrison commander ordered the troops at the harbor to stand by in case of hostilities and readied five panokseons to engage the Dutch ships in the case of hostilities. A group of merchants engaged in overseas trading, recognized the Dutch flags on the vessels and informed the Governor of the visitors. With the information in mind, the Governor doubted any hostile intent from the Dutch and questioned the response of the garrison commander. The Governor even pointed out that Busan as a port city would've been known throughout the continent and that merchants had done trading with the Dutch at Japan and Southeast Asia.

The garrison commander however argued that five warships of foreign design entering a busy harbor would still be grounds for alarm, regardless of its intentions. Still, the garrison commander conceded that the vessels so far showed no hostilities and relayed orders to the garrison forces to remain on standby. Meanwhile, the people at the port city looked at the five foreign warships.

The Dutchman was the first to speak with a speaking trumpet. In Cantonese, the Dutchman referred to himself as Philip de Vries, representing the States-General of the Netherlands with the intention of establishing trade and diplomatic relations with Joseon, including gifts for the Emperor. After much deliberation, the Governor called for the five panokseon ships to let the Dutchmen dock, making sure that the commanding ship has an interpreter on board.

Three of the panokseons floated in front of the Dutch warships while the other two flanked the left and right of the frigates, keeping their distance from the ships. The leader of the small flotilla, Captain Ryu Jin-hee, stood in full blue brigandine Dujeong-gap armor and squinted at the leading Dutch ship to look at their crew. Standing at 5 feet 9 inches, he is smaller than the 6 feet tall Dutchman whom appears to be the representative of their flotilla but Ryu didn't let that bother him, it was only a difference in a few inches. Standing next to him was his lieutenants, also in their full brigandine armors and a merchant named Yi Hee-chul who had done trading with the Dutch and has some proficiency with the Dutch language. The sailors and marines in the ships held on to their muskets, bows, and spears but none pointed at the Dutch ships. As the ships got closer to the Dutch frigates, Ryu turns to the merchant.

"Translate everything I said in Cantonese with that speaking trumpet," he ordered while Yi nodded.

"Emissaries of the Netherlands, we accept this goodwill missions of yours and we will allow your ships to dock at the Busan Harbor, with our ships serving as escorts," the captain said while the merchant translated. "We have sent a messenger out to the capital which would take a few days to hear a response from the Imperial Court. If the response from the Emperor is affirmative, then the Governor of Busan would allow your journey to Hanseong with some soldiers to serve as travel escorts to the city.

"We welcome the trading missions of the Netherlands to Busan and to Joseon." the captain added.
I find my grammatical mistakes after I finish posting
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"
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Northern Socialist Council Republics
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Northern Socialist Council Republics » Tue Jul 26, 2022 5:19 am

"The very identity and history of a realm is embodied by the seat of its ruler. One can hardly turn their eyes on the windows of Prague, snug up against their red-tiled roofs, without recalling those who were thrown from them when the Czechs rejected the tyranny of Rome. The majestic monuments of Constantinople tower over that great city, gilded in gold and precious stones, so emblematic of the self-important aggrandisement of that old and narcissistic empire. The dark and sinister dungeon chambers of Vienna, in which right-thinkers languished as fat and corrupt men purported to speak the word of God in the brightly lit churches above them, tell of the cruelty of the emperors who called that city their capital. Even the industrious fervour of the sprawling arsenal of Amsterdam says something about the hungry leviathan that the Dutch are seeking to unleash upon this world. So when your gaze drifts over the serene prayer groves of Copenhagen with trees meticulously trimmed by plain-clothed gardeners of the church, over the castles and courtyards where men and women styled in the latest Dutch fashions watch their sons learn to swing a sabre on horseback and shout over the noise of cannons, over the gathering halls of the city's wealthier denizens onto whose lamp-lit tables both beer and ink disappear by the barrel, over the vibrant Saturday market stalls where peasant inspectors in rough rural dress test the scales of disgruntled merchants for dishonest tampering with clearly practiced expertise, and over the endless and bitter argumentation of the Parliament Chamber that presides over it all, tell me, traveller: when you look, what is it that you can see?"

Konungsríkið Norðurland
(July 1618 AD)

Norðmann's father knew that a person had no worth but the path that he can clear ahead of him, no worth but the diligence in his muscles and the intellect in his head. That is why, from when he was very young, he pushed his son to learn Latin and Dutch and put him on the way of the Bible and the way of the Classics.

God blessed his father with three surviving sons, but it was a trial feeding them all and his two daughters to boot on the small patches of rocky hillsides that their family called their land. It was always obvious that they could never divide that small farm into three and expect each to support a family. So Norðmann's sisters were married off early, one of his older brothers was sent south to join the New Model Army that the king was said to be building, and he himself... he was lucky that his village pastor took such an interest to his natural curiosity. If a life of learning was interested in Norðmann, his father thought, then by God he will see to it that Norðmann was interested in it!

After downing his first meal of the day with a bit of thin broth, Norðmann took his daily stroll down to the centre of the city, where Copenhagen Cathedral sat and behind it its prayer groves. It wasn't something that he needed to do, trimming the trees was the responsibility of the cathedral's groundskeeper and he was not a formal part of the church at all, but they always appreciated another pair of hands to hold some shears and it was never a bad idea for one to stay on good terms with the person paying him to do his work. That the soft morning breeze drifting between the trees and bushes was a great way to properly wake himself up especially in the summer was just an added bonus.

As had become common over the past few months, he saw his friend in the grove, putting paint to paper as the artist tried to capture the gently swaying trees, the sheer vibrancy and life in the grove, in his modest work. Norðmann dreamed of being an artist too, once, doing his part in the creation of beauty and joy that the skilled creatives of Copenhagen engaged in for the benefit of all in this fine city. Alas, after his first misshapen sculpture and painting, his instructor gently took the paintbrush out of his hands and advised him that perhaps he would be better off focusing on his more academic pursuits.

Norðmann chuckled. After so many years, it wasn't such a bitter memory anymore. The days of his youth in which it bothered him that he could not make paint sing on canvas like his friend could were now far in the past.

"Do you need me to give you an hour or two? I fear that my old and ugly visage might ruin that fine painting of yours," he joked, getting the attention of his artist friend.

"Nonsense," the friend replied. "What is a garden without its gardener? The beauty of nature and the beauty of man belong together, my friend, for they were both created by God our Lord."

The artist friend then made a show of looking up and down at Norðmann's aging frame.

"While I do not claim to grasp exactly what our Lord finds beautiful about you," he returned Norðmann's humour, "I am sure that this is but one of many divine mysteries that are beyond mortal understanding."

With a chuckle, Norðmann raised his shears again and got to work pruning the weeds and brambles of the underbrush. Just bold enough to clear the prayer grove and keep its denizens both human and vegetable organised, yet just restrained enough to preserve the wild natural beauty possessed by this small remainder of a forest that, in olden times, was said to have once stretched across all Denmark the same way that trees and game still covered the bogs and woodlands of Sweden.

"Have you heard about the dialogue that the Greek Emperor is said to be holding in Constantinople?"

"How could I not," the artist sardonically commented, "when it's been the talk of the broadsheets all last week? Drawing some very unflattering comparisons between the enlightened and tolerant Roman in Constantinople and the narrow-minded bigot Roman in Vienna. Very unflattering to the Emperor in Vienna, that is."

"Says more about the Roman Emperor in Vienna, I think, than it does about the one in Constantinople," Norðmann commented. "I have a few acquaintances in the Boreal Church who keep talking my ear off about trying to get anything done south of the Baltic. The Romans aren't fond of heathens, you know, either the one in Constantinople or the one in Vienna."

"I think people will take their claims of being good Christians more seriously if they stopped going on and on about Thor all the time."

"I thought the same, Dan, but I can hardly tell them that, can I?"

"Hmm," the artist concluded, taking a minute to focus on his painting as Norðmann concentrated on a particularly stubborn bush. Their morning conversations often went like this, minutes of debate weaved into minutes of silence and introspection, each appreciating the other more in the way that they appreciated the garden than how they appreciated a good debating opponent.

Eventually someone had something thing to say, and the conversation went on.

"Do you plan on sending anyone?"

"No, actually," Norðmann replied. "The Church did ask for a representative from the natural philosophers' association, some long theological argument about the indivisible relationship between creator and creation, but the Steering Committee decided to decline. They weren't confident how the heretics might take the Nordic Church bringing one of us with them to the dialogue, and nobody wants to find out for themselves if what they say about Greeks burning people's eyes out is true."

"But wouldn't the attendees be going there with the usual diplomatic protections?"

"Which are only worth as much as the strength of the crown backing them. If the Greeks opt to refrain from recognising our delegation's credentials, what are we going to do, invade them? Throw our small Scandinavian horses against the walls of Constantinople? No, no... it was decided that it would be best of the Greeks receive exactly what they asked for, which are men of the Bible, not those of the sextant or the telescope."

Hafsjór's father knew that a person had no worth but the path that he can clear ahead of him, no worth but the diligence in his muscles and the intellect in his head. That is why, from when he was very young, he encouraged his son to play around the training yard and arsenal of Akershus Fortress and put him on the way of the pike and the way of the cannon.

Every noble wants an exemplary heir to continue their lineage, a golden boy strong of muscles, charming in demeanour, handsome of face, and keen in intellect. Hafsjór, of the House of West-Agder, could still remember how deep his father got into his cups the evening their doctor informed them that nothing that he had tried on the then-child worked and that he would likely grow up into a misshapen sort of dwarf. But the morning after, his father was filled with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. His son may never grow up to make the ladies swoon or to head a thundering cavalry charge, but by their forefathers' names he would see to it that Hafsjór at least knew how to command men who could do those things!

About four score infantrymen from the First Regiment, so far the only regiment in King Gustav's New Model Army, lined up in a neat row to the pounding of drums. The motions were practiced, and after drilling this exact sequence of movements over and over again the soldiers knew exactly what to do without the sergeants needing to shout at them.

Whether they would be able to do it in front of the guests from Russia that they would soon be hosting, of course, remained to be seen. Some men just couldn't perform right at the moment when it counted most.

"Well drilled," intruded another voice as its owner rode his horse next to Hafsjór's own. "Honour guard for the embassy?"

"Yes," he answered laconically. His new companion grunted.

Hafsjór knew that Sigurður was opposed to closer relations with the Russian throne. It was something that made the latter quite unpopular among more Scandinavian circles, but he found it difficult to muster sympathy for the older man; what sort of noble grew up to be that old without knowing when to bend to consensus and when to be stubborn? He may have been influential, as the Commander of Defence Area Savonia-Karelia, but not even he could resist the collective will of the Nordic Parliament.

"I apologise for not meeting you before the gate," Hafsjór eventually commented. "I was not made aware that you would be attending this embassy in person, Commander."

"His Majesty requested my presence," the man replied, with a sardonic smirk. "As often as he requests my advice on the matter of Russia, you'd think that he would be more inclined to actually listen to it from time to time. I keep telling Parliament that the Russians are not content to be a landlocked power, and given how tenuous our control over our Baltic allies can be, the only way we can ensure that they stay our allies is to keep hitting the Russians into staying away from them."

Hafsjór didn't think that their control over the Baltic was tenuous, really, but then he had to admit that the Russian threat was more his conversational partner's expertise than his own. Hafsjór himself only came into his commission after the last of the Baltic wars, after all, and it was Sigurður who spent the last thirty years fighting various small wars against the Russians and occasionally the Poles.

He was good at it too, or so everyone said. At least in terms of organisation and logistics; despite his distinguished decades-long career he hadn't yet proven his mettle in any large battles. But still; while in theory it was the responsibility of the Commander of each Defence Area to maintain a Regional Regiment of one thousand men in reserve, including cavalry and suitable artillery and ready to be called up should Norden face a war, everyone implicitly understood that not all Defence Areas were created equal. Putting together a regiment of one or even two thousand men in, say, Scania was a simple matter of recruiting all those spare peasant boys with not much in the way of life prospects and looking for an extra coin or two every month. Maintaining a full-sized regiment in the wild, thinly-populated Defence Regions of the north or the east was a considerably different matter. The Sami made for some excellent scouts, but integrating them into the organisation and discipline required of the Nordic Army was no easy task.

That Sigurður managed to show up to the last war against Russia with a full one thousand well-trained men with actually competent artillery scraped out of blasted Savonia-Karelia spoke to his administrative talents. Probably the reason why he still had a position there, in fact, after irritating dozens of members of Parliament with his caustic remarks over the years.

"Who knows," he eventually replied. "Perhaps the Russians would be willing to just hand us whatever it is that we were planning to fight for."

Sigurður's disdainful snort told him what he thought of that.

"I suppose it's not impossible that the barbarians will finally see sense for once and stop trying to punch their way towards a sea that doesn't belong to them," he mused. "But that's this vaguely friendly king that the Russians finally managed to seat on the throne for once. What happens once he kicks it and his successor decides that maintaining peace is no longer in his realm's interests? No... the Russians only understand peace and honour when we dictate it to them at the point of our pikes."

Silence reigned over the field as Hafsjór prayed to God Almighty that the esteemed Commander would at least have enough tact to shut up once the Russians were actually here. With events seemingly spiraling out of control in the south, nobody wanted the Army stuck in yet another pointless border war in the eastern frontier. Well, nobody, it seemed, except for the Commander of Savonia-Karelia.

No point in arguing with old men, he eventually decided. They were too assured of how they thought the world worked to feel the winds of change even when they turned into a storm.

Karítas' mother knew that a person had no worth but the path that she can clear ahead of her, no worth but the diligence in her muscles and the intellect in her mind. That is why, from when she was very young, she showed her around the bustling markets of Stralsund and put her on the way of the coin and the way of the sail.

Her mother had a strong start to life, with a large inheritance left behind by a distant relative who had no direct heirs of his own, but it was a trial surviving in Denmark's cut-throat mercantile community as a woman. Her mother had hoped that her children would be sons, someone who could fit right in with his burgher peers in the cigar halls and social dances that formed such a large part of being wealthy, but alas, God saw fit to bless her marriage with just a daughter, and suitors were hard to find for an aging widow with child, even one with considerable prosperity. Karítas was lucky, then, that her mother wasn't the type to give up easily. No matter, her mother thought; it didn't matter that Karítas had breasts and a womb. Her daughter would be as fine a heir as any son, and by God she would see to it!

Copenhagen harbour bustled with activity as she steadily sailed her ship, the Dutch-built fluyt Yellow Rose that was her pride and property, into one of its many piers. Well, as she ordered her crew to sail it in, at any rate.

It had been over a decade since she inherited her mother's small enterprise and even now it still excited her to be able to call the crew of the ship her crew. The joys of youth, perhaps, were slow to fade from her.

The crew being paid and all but a skeleton staff being released unto the unsuspecting citizens of Copenhagen to terrorise the pubs, ravage the brothels, or do whatever else it was that sailors did when let loose on a port with a pocket full of coin, she made her way down to the nicer parts of the city's port and dockyards district, where in a well-lit gathering hall decorated in pastel colours her partner in life and commerce awaited.

She had originally inherited a small trading company, treading water just fine but not doing very well either, based out of the formerly Hanseatic port of Lübeck that ran a handful of cogs and gallys on the Baltic and North Seas. It was a comfortable life, and perhaps in another world she would have been happy living it. But when the demands of her work found her shaking hands and greeting new faces in Rotterdam, uncertain and hesitant as she was still young and still grieving from her mother's untimely accident, she chanced across gleaming, newly-built ships lined up in Rotterdam harbour.

At that moment, she knew that she just had to have one.

Within two years she sold many of her ships and closed down the North Sea side of her businesses and used that silver to buy herself her new flagship, then decided to accompany it for its first journey as her captain. Then the journey after that. And the one after that too. Drastically re-orienting her entire trading company like that on a whim was a terrifying risk, to be sure, but then she struck lucre and as usual being one of the first few to chance upon a new profitable business model came with suitable rewards.

She found her Theó easily enough, him sitting on the same table and drinking the same beer that he always did at this hour of the day. Two quick taps of her knucles on the finely-polished wooden table brought his attention away from the papers that he was reading over, and the honest smile that graced his face sent her heart fluttering as if she was still twenty.

"Welcome home, dear," he greeted, rising for a hug which she gladly returned.

She sat down across from him and requested a beer of her own from the hallkeeper.

"How was your voyage?"

"Unless our Dutch contacts renege on our contracts, very profitable. Some enterprising Sami got into a fight with the usual guilds up in Bothnia, and for some reason that seems to have translated into lower prices for us. I wouldn't pretend to understand northern burgher politics, but in any case I managed to net quite a bit of silver selling cloth at the usual price and buying furs at a lot less than that."

Like all good plans, Karítas' business plan was ultimately quite simple; its value was in the fact that she took a frankly reckless risk and threw her modest fortune wholeheartedly into it before anyone else did. The Sound Toll was harsh. But the rates were more harsh for foreign merchants than they were for domestic Nordic interests. The difference was quite significant, in fact; significant enough that when a nice lady with a new, fast ship with excellent cargo capacity and registered as a vessel of Nordic ownership shows up to the Dutch mercantile interests of Copenhagen and Helsingborg and offers to, for a suitable fee, fetch what they needed from the Baltic instead of them having to rely on the unpredictable markets of Copenhagen or pay the exorbitant toll for sending their own ships into the Baltic Sea, quite a few people were enticed by that offer.

Lumber, iron, and copper from Sweden, fur and tar from Finland, grain from Poland, and wool from the Eastern Duchies or Russia... the Dutch were a mercantile and financial sort of people. They were quite willing to pay more than the usual market price if it came with the reliability of a fixed price agreed upon months in advance. Considerably more, in fact. And of course she could then immediately turn around, use that money to buy cloth as well as luxuries like spices and chinaware, from the Dutch, to be delivered to those same Baltic ports that were her sources for copper, furs, or wool.

It was good business and, given that she still sailed with her flagship occasionally from time to time, an exciting business.

"To the continuation of our good fortune, then," Theó replied, raising his glass.

Before she could ask him about how things were going at home and how their son was doing, both of their attentions were drawn by shouting from near the centre of the gathering hall.

"Freedom? Freedom to starve, perhaps, my friends and colleagues, did you forget who you are? We are men of the coin, not of the sword! Our routes run to the animal-worshipping heathens of Markland, to the barbaric lands of the Muscovite tyrant, to the crypto-pagans of Gaul and Albion! We do so in peace and amity because our purpose is common prosperity, not mutual ruin. By what right do you propose that we ought to intervene in the affairs of another realm?"

"...what's going on there?"

Theó grimaced.

"Nothing good. Did you pass by Stralsund on the return journey?"

Karítas shook her head, so he continued to explain.

"There's some sort of power struggle going on south in the German lands, and apparently the Nordic Parliament leaned on our allies of the Baltic League quite hard to come out loudly in opposition to the Holy Roman Emperor."

He pointed to the argumentative speakers at the central table.

"Not everyone is happy about that, obviously."

"Ah," she acknowledged. There was not much more to say. With such a loud and vicious argument going on, the gathering hall didn't feel quite as warm and cozy as it did just a minute ago. Karítas sighed, putting her nearly-empty pint down on the table.

"Let's go home, shall we? I'm feeling tired and I find myself missing our son."

Sávlos' father knew that a person had no worth but the path that he can clear ahead of him, no worth but the diligence in his muscles and the intellect in his mind. That is why, from when he was very young, he had him follow his brothers to the forests and put him on the way of the trap and the way of the bow.

Life was not easy as a Bothnian Sami. Sávlos' great-grandfather always used to say that when he was young, you had to go all the way down to the eastern coast to see any Scandinavians. These days, every season, more Swedes settled larger parts of their ancestral rivers and forests, claiming more and more supposedly ancient rights. But Sávlos had a keen eye for details and he noticed the papers. When the new farmers came to clear yet more of their forests, they read from a piece of paper. When the rich old man at the town made this decision or that against them, he was always writing on scraps of paper. So when Sávlos came of age, he went down to the Swedish town and knocked on the church doors until the Christian shaman in their sacred hall finally conceded that if Sávlos would pray to Christ, then he would be taught how to use paper and ink too.

It was a few months ago when yet another Swede came to his village lambasting them for something or another, shouting something about commercial monopolies and hospitality to visitors. So he stood up and demanded that the man produce some papers, and he noticed that the words on the page that they eventually got him in front of did not precisely match the things that they were shouting back at the village.

So he had the Christian shaman put him in contact with the magister.

The next few months were a whirlwind of accusations, counter-accusations, threats from both sides, and even in one case a memorable attempt to assassinate him. Reams of papers were punted to higher and higher courts, and Sávlos found himself having to give testimony before increasingly older, increasingly richer men in increasingly far-away Scandinavian towns. Luleå, Gävle, Sigtuna, Copenhagen... for months he had been living in Scandinavian cities that until a year ago he had not so much as heard of.

"'In accordance'? 'In accordance'! If you think this blatant attempt at illegally monopolising the fur trade with workers reduced to near-serfs in North-Bothnia County is 'in accordance' with the charter of your guild I'm surprised you can muster up the intelligence to speak without assistance!"

"Unfounded allegations! My honourable colleagues, you are letting the tone of this discussion be set by this Sami's emotive pleas. If you would instead look rationally at the verified facts, as determined by the special commission which the Seneschal of Sweden appointed for that exact purpose..."

"Frankly this report from the commission is more intriguing in what it doesn't say than what it does. If you look at these two paragraphs, between here and here, that's a very long-winded and unclear way of saying what boils down to 'we tried really hard to prove them innocent but couldn't.' It could be framed and hung up on a grammar school's walls as a demonstrative example of what it means to speak euphemistically."

"What's that supposed to mean?!?"

"I feel obliged to point out that the report doesn't say that their conduct was negligent, either. The authors say so themselves - it's not entirely clear either way."

"But given what it does say, I think any reasonable person would come to the conclusion that they were in fact negligent, no matter how much the actual authors of that report try not to directly state that conclusion."

Law this, customs that, ancient traditions whatnot. After doing this for months, telling his story over and over and over again to people who said things that he heard but did not understand, Sávlos frankly wondered when Scandinavians could possibly find the time to breathe, choked as they were with their complex and intricate laws, customs, and traditions. Case in point, just look at these elaborate rituals and ceremonies that had to be performed just because he stood up in front of a town magister and asked a simple question of 'can they do that?'

But here, in Copenhagen, the rolling boulder must stop. That much, he managed to grasp from the fragmented bits of conversation that he heard over the months. There was no higher court to go to, no richer men or mightier chief to summon. One way or another, they would all be walking out of this great hall of stone with an answer.

The papers stacked up ever higher as answers to simple questions themselves contained more complex questions, which needed to be answered by wiser men with even more papers. The two shamans of Copenhagen, connecting the small community of their people that existed here to the gods and serving as representatives for their people in the court of the Scandinavian great chief, brought forth paper and paper in Sávlos' defence as richer and richer Swedes were called to provide some answers.

But even the most tenacious obstructionist working on the most elaborate ritual could not actually go on forever. At some point all things come a close. So it was that eleven months after the complaint was first lodged, the gavel would come down for the final time.

"On this day the 28th of July, since the birth of Christ the Lord 1618 years," the most elaborately dressed Scandinavian read, "the High Court of the Nordic Kingdom, communing in the City of Copenhagen, in consultation with the members of the Nordic Parliament chosen in accordance to..."

He still didn't know what was going on. Words, words, words... he thought that he could speak Scandinavian. He was quite proud of it, actually; he was one of a few in his village that could converse in that language, not just barely communicate with it, and the only person in that village that could read and write in it. Never before did he realise how many words there were in the Scandinavian language and just how long they were.

Luckily, the Copenhagen shaman translated for him.

"We won!"
Last edited by Northern Socialist Council Republics on Tue Jul 26, 2022 5:31 am, edited 3 times in total.
Call me "Russ" if you're referring to me the out-of-character poster or "NSRS" if you're referring to me the in-character nation.
Previously on Plzen. NationStates-er since 2014.

Social-democrat and hardline secularist.
Come roleplay with us. We have cookies.

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The National Dominion of Hungary
Posts: 2277
Founded: May 31, 2012
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby The National Dominion of Hungary » Wed Jul 27, 2022 6:46 am

Kingdom of Rus - Королевство Русь
Royal Palace - Moskovskyi Kreml - Moscow

Now the true account of the road in question is the following. Royal stations exist along its whole length, and excellent caravanserais; and throughout, it traverses an inhabited tract, and is free from danger. In Lydia and Phrygia there are twenty stations within a distance. A knock on the door disturbed the man, tearing his gaze from the pages of Herodotus and toward the door. Growling with annoyance, King Vsevolod glared at the door to Palace's vast library as the knock hammered home again. "What is it?" he seethed.

"Your lady wife." Came the muffled, equally annoyed response from behind the door.

"Well come in then, woman." The King sighed, putting the tome penned by the ancient historical scholar away on the small side table.

Lady Katerina Morozova, daughter of the Prince of Perm and Queen of Rus flung open the door and laughed when she beheld her husband sitting in his favorite chair by the fire, his worn hands resting in his lap. Katerina laughed. "Aaah yes... I'm a fool for thinking you would be doing anything else." A rolled-up piece of paper was clutched in her hand.

Vsevolod rolled his eyes. "Is there something of import you wish to discuss, Katya? This is my reading hour, just before supper and you know I'm supposed to be unreachable during my reading hour. And thank God almighty that I only make it an hour too, and not half the day. I'm rather tempted to do that sometimes you know."

Waving away his complaints, the Queen strode across the room and waved a sheet of paper in front of the King's face. "This is from the Ataman of the Zaporozhian Host. It came a few minutes ago via messanger. I came as fast as I could."

With a sigh, Vsevolod immediately reopened his tome and began searching for his lost page. "I am sure he's just informing me that he has built the granaries I ordered him to. Surely, they shall embark on their chevauchee against those Tartar heathens any day by now."

"Shall we be going to Kiev perhaps? Inspect the men as the saddle their sabres and polish their horses or whatever it is men do before battle. When did you last see the Southern Posads?"

The King sighed. "No need for that, dear Katya. We stay in the capital, the Atamans know what to do and I have need to stay here and manage the affairs of the realm."

Katerina scowled. "We should go south, have a proper Royal Procession. I never get to talk with any of my fellow ladies except for the Christmas Dinners or when the Korolyev's visit twice a year. Do you understand what a sad, sad state of affairs that is?" House Korolyev ruled Nizhny Novgorod in the name of the Crown and were the most powerful of Vsevolod's vassals, and descended from an old cadet branch of the Rurikids to boot. Keeping them happy was important, hence the twice annual dinners.

"We will discuss this further after dinner." Vsevolod held up a hand to stay his wife's onslaught. "After dinner, Katya."

Fuming, Lady Morozova stormed from the room, leaving Vsevolod to finish his chapter, and think of the old postal roads that connected the vastness of the realm of the ancient Persians who were laid low by the Greeks of Great Alexandr. A realm as vast as his, if not greater. The relays of the angarium could reach the remotest of areas in fifteen days. There is nothing in the world that travels faster than these Persian couriers. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous men from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." King Vsevolod sighed and turned the page, the ancients sure knew what they were doing...

Stanitsa of Kriviy Rih

The village square by the church had been in a frenzy but a short while ago before the men rode away, southbound on the muddy road to the ostrog of Kherson. It had been a hard day keeping the peace even before the riders left. Little Olesya had broken her arm tripping over one of the dykes that marked the boundary of Kriviy Rih. Pavel the Smith claimed that she had been chasing his son, though Iryna loudly asserted that it had been the other way round. "Your boy been teasin' her again," her harpy shriek had asserted. Unable to match her pitch, the smith refused to answer the charges, sending his simple son home with the barest hint of discipline.

"Bring us back some gold and cattle will ya boys!" Iryna bellowed after the men who left the fortified village, her daughter forgotten even as she stood beside her, arm tied up hard and placed in a linen sling. They were lucky a kindly passing monk had been staying in the village inn for the last few days. Her husband Timofey was riding off with the rest of the men, service in battle in exchange for tax exemption, that was the agreement between the Zaporozhian host and the Crown. Timofey had boasted loudly of the plunder he would earn from the Tartars. And with him went a young lad that she had enjoyed opening the doors to when there was no one around to see.

Iryna moved a hand to the belly that was surely soon to swell.

Port Town of Astrakhan

Yuri Stroganov looked on as burly daytalers helped load the ship with the goods he had amassed for his voyage. Bales of pelts from Siberia and honey from northern Russia as well as tar from the Nordic territories they called Finland. It would all go south across the Caspian to the lands of the Persians, from there he would bring fine silks and carpets to sell to the Boyars back in Moscow or Novgorod. Once, in the time of the First Kingdom the Rus had gone to Persia, but as reavers and raiders. The Rus of the First Kingdom undertook the first large-scale expedition in 913. Sailing across the Caspian on 500 ships, Yuri's forebears pillaged the lands Gorgan, Gilan and Mazandaran, taking slaves and silver.

Yuri was no warrior, he was no pillager or raider. He was from the greatest merchant house of Novgorod, and he would come in peace bearing goods, this was a time much down the line from those bygone days of yore. And it was time for Rus and Persia to grow in wealth and friendship. At least, that is what Yuri hoped as he watched the burly dockworkers load his barque. Soon, they would be on their way to the southern shores of the Caspian, to Persia.

The tempestuous northern seas


Five brigantines, mid-sized vessels sporting only 20 cannon each had sailed from the port of Arkhangelsk across the harsh seas of the far north. A dangerous voyage, however in the summer one could avoid the the freezing cold and the raging storms that so often claimed vessels and their sailors in these distant, willful waters in the autumn and winter. They were a far cry from the mighty galleons that sailed the long, perilous routes to the New World but, they had made it, and praise the lord for that for these ships carried important men on an equally important mission. They had sailed along the Kola peninsula and along the Norwegian coast towards the city of Oslo in the south of the land.

"We'll be arriving within two days m'lord, if the wind holds up." Said the captain, a large, red-bearded bastard of a man fathered on a waterfront whore in Arkhangelsk by some Nordic trader. He stood next to a tall, lanky man in the finely tailored robes of a boyar and a long, finely combed brown beard.

"We'll pray for speedy winds then, good fellow." The nobleman said with an disinterested nod. His mind trailed to the talks at hand, this was the first time in decades that an embassy was sent from Rus to Norden whose main task wasn't to discuss peace between the realms following war and bloody battle. As dyak of the Ambassadorial Prikaz, it was up to Lord Pavel Rumyantsev of Novgorod to be the man to establish these new ties of trade that the King wished to make with the Scandinavians.

A pair of boots thudded on the wooden deck behind them as another man approached, younger than Rumyantsev by some two decades, a finely combed moustache adorning his face and the golden-threaded robes of a boyar clothing him. "So, soon we'll be sailing into the Oslo fjord then." He said and stretched out his arms. "Rugged country this, but beautiful in it's own right I say."

Rumyantsev looked at the young man beside him. Ivan Mazepa was one of his podachnyis, son of a disgraced nobleman exiled to the far reaches of the Kola where he was tasked with founding a fort, now grown into a small fishermen's town known as Murmansk. Disgraced father or no, the young fellow was ambitious and showed great promise in the Prikaz. "Once, the men of Norden were warriors above all else, raiding as far as Gaul and even occasionaly on our great rivers. Now, they are men of the coin. Funny how things change..."

Rumyantsev threw a glance in the young man's direction. "Yes... funny..."

They are still men of the sword. Rumyantsev thought. After all, they've stopped us each time we tried to reach the Baltics to date. But, perhaps we can win with the pen what we failed to wrest for us with the sabre.

Plotek i medialnych bredni nie daj sobie wmówić,
Codziennie się rozwijaj i nie daj się ogłupić,
Atakowi propagandy stawiaj czoło dzielnie,
Nie daj sobą sterować i myśl samodzielnie.

Mass Effect Andromeda is a solid 7/10. Deal with it.

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Sao Nova Europa
Posts: 2427
Founded: Apr 20, 2019
New York Times Democracy

Postby Sao Nova Europa » Fri Aug 05, 2022 5:28 pm

Intermountain States wrote:
Addressed to the Minister of Rites of the Empire of Great Song

On behalf of the Throne of the Three-legged Crow, this humble servant writes as an outside to Song's Imperial Court to request an audience with the Son of Heaven in hopes of establishing at least flourishing trade and common security between Song and Joseon in regards to the threats of the northern barbarians claiming their own titles of the Mandate of Heaven. This humble servant and an outsider hopes that the letter would be brought to the sovereign of Song with great haste in the interest of greater cooperation and mutual beneficial relationship.

With regards,
Wang Jun-min, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Joseon
On behalf of the Throne of the Three-legged Crow, the Greatest King of Samhan and Balhae, Guardian of Heaven East of the Sea, Successor to the Legacy of Dongymeong

Addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Joseon

On behalf of the Dragon Throne, his Lordship the Minister of Rites has accepted your request to present yourself before the Son of Heaven. His Lordship conveys the wish of the Son of Heaven to establish amicable relations between the Kingdom of Joseon and our Heavenly Empire, as well as to cooperate against the northern barbarians who dare claim the Mandate of Heaven.

With regards,
Xia Hanying, Minister of Rites of Song
On behalf of the Son of Heaven, His Imperial Majesty the Xianfeng Emperor

"I’ve just bitten a snake. Never mind me, I’ve got business to look after."
- Guo Jing ‘The Brave Archer’.

“In war, to keep the upper hand, you have to think two or three moves ahead of the enemy.”
- Char Aznable

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
- Sun Tzu

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Empire of Techkotal
Posts: 128
Founded: Apr 09, 2020
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Empire of Techkotal » Mon Aug 08, 2022 12:00 pm

April 1618

The door opened and a big fat belly shoved itself out of it. A big sturdy person in clad in black strode forth. Through a long hallway decorated by knights armors and halberds.
The pictures of past relatives showing down on him from the walls, while he moved towards the great entrance hall. The servants slowly approaching him. They put a mantel on him and gave him a cup of wine, which he emptied in one go and opened the door to the Leipzig palace courtyard.

Here a richly decorated coach waited for him with ten black riders in front of the coach and ten at the back. To both sides of the entrance stood long lines of servants all bowing before him. The time had come for him to depart. The chill spring breeze clung to his coat, while he walked down the stairs.

Only a sudden crack brought this colossus of a man to a halt. Followed by a sudden scream. The step cracked and his majesty Johann George the elector of Saxony-Prussia tumbled down the stairs. There he lay. in the at the foot of the stairs. Later chronologist would see it as the first sign of misfortune.

The cursing Johann stood up with the help of two servants. His face red as a tomato. He just went in the coach and shut the door. Turning to his officials:

"I want these stairs to be fixed before I'm back from Prague and I dare anyone talk about this."

And so they started on their journey towards the meeting in Prague.

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Northern Socialist Council Republics
Posts: 2398
Founded: Dec 13, 2020
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Northern Socialist Council Republics » Wed Aug 10, 2022 6:31 am

"The secret to a successful mediation is to identify something that both parties hate more than they hate each other."

In the name of Christ our Lord: be it known to each and all whom it may concern, that for decades strife and violence have marred the Eastern Baltic with such intense severity that not only the States of the Southeastern Baltic Coast, but also the neighbouring Kingdoms of Norden and Russia, have been involved in the disharmony of many vicious conflicts. The most recent incidents of warfare, between, on one side, the Most Serene and Honourable Prince and Lord Gustavus the Second, by Grace of God elected King of the North and Protector of the Four Nations, elected Permanent Secretary of the Baltic League, Duke of Sjælland, of Livonia, of Estonia, and of Holstein, Count of Ingermanland, Protector of the Republic of Neva, the Republic of Vinland, and the Republic of Markland, and all his allies and subjects, and on the other side the Most Serene and Honourable Prince and Lord Vsevolod the Seventh, by the Grace of God King and Autocrat of All the Rus, Prince of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Polotsk, Novgorod and Perm. Master of Kazan and Astrakhan, and Overlord of Siberia, and all his allies and subjects, from which originated great evils that drained Christian blood and devastated the public welfare and tranquility of many provinces, have led to the great desire, of one side and of the other, of the establishment of a just, permanent, and Christian peace. For this purpose, by a mutual agreement and covenant of both parties, on this day the 9th of January, in the year of our Lord 1618, it was resolved at Reval, to hold an assembly of plenipotentiary ambassadors, who should render themselves at Roskilde in Denmark on the 30th of July in the year 1618. The plenipotentiary ambassadors, for His Majesty the King of the North, the Most Honourable Prince Havesarius, Count of West-Agder, and for His Majesty the King of All the Rus, the Most Honourable Prince Rumyantsev, Count of Kirishi, duly established and appearing at the agreed-upon date, having prayed for divine assistance and receiving a reciprocal communication of letters, communications, and full powers, whose texts are appended at the end of this present treaty, in the presence and with the consent of the Parliamentarians of the Kingdom of the North, the other Princes and Statesmen, to the Glory of God and the welfare and peace of their respective vassals and subjects, have agreed upon and consented to the following Articles.


That there shall be a Christian and permanent peace, and true and sincere friendship, between His Majesty the King of the North and his Majesty the King of All the Rus, as well as between each and every ally, vassal, and subject of his said Majesties, and all their heirs and successions. That this peace and friendship be observed and cultivated with sincerity and commitment, that each Party shall seek to secure the honour and dignity of the other, that thus on all sides they may see this peace and friendship in the Kingdom of the North and the Kingdom of All the Rus flourish, such that the public peace and prosperity of the Southeastern Baltic may be secured by way of everlasting mutual trust.


That there shall be on the one side and the other a perpetual forgetfulness and forgiveness for all that has been committed prior to the establishment of this present treaty by one Party upon the other, without reservation nor limit as to what place and in what manner any such hostilities may have been practiced, in such a manner such that neither Party, under any justification whatsoever, shall perpetuate any further acts of hostility, entertain any emnity, or cause any trouble to the other; that neither Party shall, overtly or covertly, directly or through intermediaries, along their mutual frontiers or in any other region, contest any rights, titles, or persons such as the other Party may presently hold or in the future acquire, except as specified in the present treaty.


That a reciprocal friendship between the Parties be so secure and sincere that each shall never, under any pretence or right, assist any enemies against whom the other party is currently locked in dispute or any enemies which that Party may in the future acquire, whether that assistance take the form of words, arms, or money, nor shall either Party nor any of their vassals tolerate the quartering or retirement of the troops of such enemies in their respective Realms.


That the Baltic League is and shall continue to be ally and protectorate of the Kingdom of the North; that His Majesty the King of All the Rus shall renounce all rights, powers, and titles within and over the Baltic League, the Duchies of Livonia and Estonia, the County of Ingermanland, and the Republic of Neva, except as specified in the present treaty or with the knowing consent of His Majesty the King of the North; that if in the future the relationship between the Kingdom of the North and any of the aforementioned polities of the Southeastern Baltic may change from their present state, any such changes be settled without the interference of His Majesty the King of All the Rus.


That any privilege or right granted by one Party or the other, to any person not subject to a State that is Party to the present treaty, in the engagement of commerce and industry, the ownership of property, or travel and passage, in or through the Realm of that Party presently, or any privilege or right that one Party or the other may in the future so grant, shall be considered to have simultaneously been granted to all the vassals and subjects of the other Party upon the effectiveness of this present treaty, if such privilege or right exists presently, or upon their establishment, should such privilege or right be granted in the future.


That His Excellency the Protector of the Republic of Neva shall grant, to such citizens of the Kingdom of All the Rus as His Majesty the King of All the Rus may in the future designate, the right of free passage in the City of Nöteborg, without demand for any tolls and fees beyond those which are applicable to the domestic citizens of that city, and the privilege of establishing within that city a Quarter, for their persons and goods to reside, in perpetuity; that His Majesty the King of All the Rus shall reciprocally grant, to such citizens of the Kingdom of the North as His Majesty the King of the North may in the future designate, the right of free passage in the City of Novgorod, without demand for any tolls and fees beyond those which are applicable to the domestic citizens of that city, and the privilege of establishing within that city a Quarter, for their persons and goods to reside, in perpetuity.


That the waters of the Baltic Sea, the Rivers Neva and Volkhov, and the Lakes Ladoga and Ilmen, shall henceforth be made open to the peaceful commerce of both Parties; that neither shall Party shall unduly interfere with the passage of maritime vessels of peaceful purpose through these aforementioned waterways, except for any inspections, made without delay or hostility, as are necessary to verify the peaceful and amicable nature of such vessels' intent.


The ambassadors and plenipotentiaries of His Majesty the King of the North and His Majesty the King of All the Rus' pledges, each side to the other, to cause their respective Sovereigns and their respective allies and vassals, to agree and ratify the permanent peace described herein, and that the duly notarised and solemn Acts of Ratification be presented at Nöteborg and in mutual good form exchanged in the term of twelve weeks, reckoned from the date of signing; the present treaty shall be considered to have come into effect upon this exchange of Acts.


In testimony to each and all of these agreements, the ambassadors of Their Majesties sent to this end, by virtue of what had been concluded on the 9th of January in this present year,

For His Majesty Gustav the Second, in the name of the House of Vasa and the Kingdom of the North, the Most Honourable Prince Havesarius.

For His Majesty Vsevolod the Seventh, in the name of the House of Rurikovich-Moskovsky and the Kingdom of All the Rus, the Most Honourable Prince Rumyantsev.
Call me "Russ" if you're referring to me the out-of-character poster or "NSRS" if you're referring to me the in-character nation.
Previously on Plzen. NationStates-er since 2014.

Social-democrat and hardline secularist.
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