Beyond The Shore
Major World Powers
Politics in the world of Beyond the Shore is dominated by the two great colonial powers: The Empire and the Kingdom of Happsburg, both of which control territories throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Two other powers, the Nederlands-koloniale Rijk (the Dutch Republic) and the new nation known only as The Republic, also command significant maritime power. The three land-locked empires: Russia, Qing China, and the Ottoman Turks also command vast tracts of land, but lack any significant naval presence.
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Known by no other name, The Empire (emphasis on the capitalized article) was founded in the year 1415, after the English conquest of France. In 1422, the self-proclaimed Emperor Prospero I (formerly King Henry V) had himself ritualistically drowned and has reigned unopposed for three centuries. Shortly after his drowning, the Emperor launched a vast naval campaign, raising all the might of England and France to sail half-way around the world to face the dark god Dormin. This campaign ended with Dormin being dismembered by the Emperor and imprisoned on a small, unmarked island in the South Pacific, and established The Empire’s unquestioned naval dominance. Under the consistent leadership of Emperor Prospero, The Empire launched an aggressive campaign of exploration and colonization: first retaking the Holy Land from the Turks, then the Carribean, most of North America, India, Burma, and large swaths of Africa.
Real-world Cognates: Colonial Britain, but with much more territory
The Kingdom of Hapsburg
The House of Hapsburg has controlled vast swathes of Europe since the 1200’s. Unlike the Empire, this ancient royal family follows strict Regere Vivorum (rule by the living), and careful breeding. With their numerous children and cadet branches marrying into the royal families of numerous European nations, they were finally able to unify most of Europe (excluding those lands controlled by The Empire) in 1516 under the rulership of the Spanish Hapsburgs.
Hapsburg holdings in Europe alone extend to Spain, Portugal, Naples, Milan, Hungary, Austria, Bohemia, Switzerland, Sardinia, Sicily, and previously the Netherlands (though the Dutch overthrew the monarchy in 1543 to found the Dutch Republic). The Hapsburg strength as a naval power began in 1476, with the conquest of the Gold Coast in the Gulf of Guinea, and subsequent expansion into Africa and the surrounding islands. In the 1490s, they established the first permanent European colonies in the Americas with their conquest of the Aztec and Incan Empires.
The Kingdom of Hapsburg has long feuded with The Empire over territory, culminating in war from 1585 to 1604 — mostly because their favorite tactic of political maneuvering (i.e. marriage) was useless when dealing with the Undying Emperor. After the tragic loss of two entire armadas when attempting to invade England in 1596 and 1597, the Hapsburgs were forced to capitulate the war. Since then, most conflict between the two nations has taken the form of privateering, with numerous letters of marque being issued on both sides to “semi-legalize” piracy against ships of the opposing Empire.
Real-world Cognates: Colonial Spain and the Hapsburg Dynasty
The Republic (emphasis on the capitalized article), sometimes known as the Republic of Pirates or the Republic of the West Indies, is a small nation, based in the Caribbean with its capital in Nassau, Bahamas. Despite the very small amount of land controlled by The Republic, it has vast maritime power, rivaling even The Empire and the Hapsburgs, and preying on them both. Rumors state that the small Republic may be able to field as many as a thousand ships should they choose to engage in open warfare. To the other major powers of the world, all citizens of The Republic are considered hostis humani generis (enemies of all mankind). Rumors abound that the notorious Puritan political agitator and Imperial exile Oliver Cromwell settled in Nassau after he fled his defeat in England and that this whole Republic thing is actually his idea, and thus, by proxy, a nefarious Puritan plot.
The Republic has one of the strangest political systems in the world, being the only nation with no central, hereditary leader. The Republic is ruled by the “Council of Free Captains”. Members of the Council must be the captain of their own ship and must hold their captaincy by democratic election via the popular vote of their shipmates. The Council meets twice annually and a ‘Free Captain’ represents the interests of his crew, and is also given the governorship of one of The Republic’s many islands (or portion of an island in the case of larger landmasses like Puerto Rico or Jamaica). A Councilman who is voted out of his captaincy similarly loses his status on the council and governorship. The Council of Free Captains is headed by a ‘Magistrate’, elected by vote of the Council from within their number to enforce ‘law and order’ as he sees fit. The current Magistrate is Captain Kerdak ‘Bonefist’.
With the constant bickering between The Empire and the Hapsburgs, numerous letters of marque are issued and rescinded each year. As captains lose their official support from the great empires, many of them choose to ignore their orders to stand down and thus eventually find their way to The Republic, further bolstering its strength despite the efforts of the great powers.
Real-World Cognates: The Republic of Pirates