History of Bretonia
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Exodus and Founding
Amid the chaos of the exodus, as the Bretonia broke past the Coalition blockade, her starboard engine array was destroyed by enemy fire. As a result, the Bretonia had to limp the rest of the way to Sirius, slowly falling further and further behind the other 4 sleeper ships. By the time the Bretonia finally arrived in the Sirius sector almost 20 years had past since the arrival of the Liberty, Rheinland and the Kusari, all of whom had already well begun setting up their new civilisations. Kusari and Rheinland had claimed the 2 most resource-rich areas, whilst the Liberty had settled near the most lush region at the sector's core. Bretonia was therefore forced to select a less than ideal site near the Barrier, where they established the colony of New London, on one of the few habitable planets in the area. Isolated by the Barrier from the other houses and years behind, Bretonia began an accelerated program of rebuilding their industrial civilization.
For the first year the colony was administered by the same senior Alliance military commanders who had been in command at the time of the exodus, as they put the population to work and began the hasty development of infrastructure. After a year, however, when moves began to put in place a civilian administration with permanent constitution, Prince Harry IX - great-great grandson of Queen Elizabeth III, last of the ruling monarchs of the UK - managed to stage a coup with the support of several key military officers and industrial heads. Declaring himself Sovereign of the Principality of New Britain, later renamed to Bretonia, he established a bureaucratic autocracy in which the new colony was under his direct personal rule.
Rule of the Princes
It became a custom of the Principality, that the Crown be held by whomever had been willing to murder their siblings, and likely their own father. These weren't estranged or distance siblings, in most cases, but adolescents who'd grown up together, under the tutelage of their parents, who would judge one another, and find themselves wanting, or simply not quite imposing enough. It isn't inherently surprising that the princes of Bretonia, who forcibly moved millions to Leeds, and who established the foundation of the early BMM had ruthless survival as their bread and butter, but it is important to note that the period carried with it an intense competition with the three houses, with Rheinland's huge stocks of minerals, with Kusari's fuel, and with Liberty's Ageira Jumptech. The crown struggled, isolated by the barrier, to forge a balance between the pressures of each other house, to blend Kusari fuel and Rheinland industry into competition with Liberty's Commerce.
Though the Princes of Bretonia were typically tyrannical and brutal, they were almost never poor stewards of the then Principality of Bretonia. In the interest of Bretonia, these princes encouraged large families in a generations long program of cultural manipulation. Families in popular media were generally larger than the average family, as well as extensive subsidies oriented toward larger additional children. Currently, the average family tended to grow through until the reign of Harry the Thirteenth, up from the considered all time low of around .9 children per family during the Coalition-Alliance war, Pre Sleep, to above five children a family by 126 AS.
Civil War and Commonwealth
In the spring of 317 rioting on Planet Leeds led to dispatch of several ships of marines from New London in an attempt to restore order. The growing working-class rebels, opposed to the tyrannical rule of Price Harry XXI and his state-controlled development of Leeds, ambushed 2 gunboats on the landing platform and succeeded in boarding and capturing the vessels. In a brief skirmish in the skies over Leeds, the two vessels succeeded in destroying a third gunboat caught by surprise by the inexperienced rebel crew. The Bretonian Civil War had begun. When the Prince's nephew the Duke of Westminster and several other New London aristocrats sided with the rebels, 2 Destroyers and the best part of their fleets defected to the rebel cause after Admiral Smith switched sides and Admiral Mitchell was killed when his crew mutinied. By the end of the year the loyalist Bretonian Royal Fleet had secured New London, but with the Leeds system in the hands of the new rebel Bretonian People's Navy the royalists lacked access to the resource fields needed to repair or rebuild their forces. With more defections throughout the spring of 318, the BPN was strong enough to mount an offensive on the capital and captured Southampton Shipyard in a surprise strike in July, using a jump hole to bypass the Jump Gate defences. With the loss of their shipyard the royalist forces were in disarray and on 5 October the last BRF Admiral surrendered his destroyer to the rebels in New London orbit. With rebel forces in control of the skies, the royalist government planetside surrendered the following day under threat of orbital bombardment.
There followed a 16-year interregnum during which time a Commonwealth of Bretonia was declared under Lord Protector Alfred Nelson, previously a leader of the the Bretonian People's Navy. Following the death of Nelson in 334 A.S. a new constitution was drawn up under which the Monarchy was restored, but constrained by parliament so that the people of Bretonia would never again be subject to absolute tyranny such as they had suffered under their cruel Princes. The son of Harold, Duke of Cambridge, late brother of Harry XXI, was invited back from exile in Liberty to become the first King of the modern Kingdom of Bretonia.
Throughout the late 5th and early 6th centuries, Bretonia was plagued by uncontrollable levels of space piracy, due to a group known as the Bretonian Buccaneers.
In 565 A.S. the Buccaneers committed their most terrible act - the murder of King William I whilst plundering his Royal Liner "Maelstrom" . This act and the political upheaval that it caused, led to a massive campaign on the part of the BAF under the leadership of William's daughter the new Queen Eleanor I to avenge her father's death and eradicate the Buccaneer threat once and for all.
For 6 years the various BAF Fleets under the separate command of their respective flag officers failed to act in a sufficiently coordinated manner to defeat the Buccaneers; a victory of Vice Admiral Marlow in 569 at the Battle of Guernsey was famously undone by the refusal of Rear Admiral Haversham to cooperate with him and the consequent failure of Haversham's fleet to cut off the Buccaneers' retreat. By 570 A.S. Queen Eleanor had taken personal command of the Armed Forces, sacking the dithering Fleet Admiral Buckingham. Combining seven of the largest fleets into two huge battlegroups and reducing the remainder to the status of squadrons, she paved the way for the BAF to bring concentrated force against the Buccaneer strongholds. Admiral Hardcastle cleared much of Manchester and Cambridge over the next two years, though much of his work was undone by Marlow's pyrrhic victory at Southampton Field in 573. A Buccaneer counter-offensive was successfully halted by a large force of BAF destroyers near Planet Dover in 579, but the BAF was unable to effectively counter the guerilla tactics of the Buccaneers enough to decisively defeat their forces for the next 8 years. In 587, however, Marlow was replaced by Admiral Sir Thomas Scott, a military genius of fleet battle tactics and using clever ambushes he gradually forced back the Buccaneers into Leeds. In the summer of 588 his battlegroup cleared most of the Leeds system itself and by 589 the remaining Buccaneer forces were caught, unprepared at Sherwood station and utterly destroyed.
The war resulted in the destruction of all Buccaneer bases and the cleansing of most organised crime from Bretonia, a situation which was to result in remarkably low crime levels in the House for the next 100 years, a period which later became known as the Bretonian Golden Age, often measured as 589 - 674 A.S.
This period was characterised by a remarkable level of economic expansion, bringing Bretonia up to comparable economic levels with the other Houses for the first time in its history, whilst on the political front King William III, often labelled William the Great, laid claim to a vast Empire in Tau and Omega 3 during a time when the attentions of the other Houses were focused on the terrible 80 Years War in Sigma.
Following William's death in 674 A.S., however, Bretonia gradually sank into a period of troubles, ironically triggered by a series of great exploration expeditions funded on the back of recent economic successes. The discovery of Edinburgh and with it Planet Gaia in 685 A.S. was to eventually lead to the rise of the Green Front and later the Gaian terrorist movement, which would in turn eventually spawn numerous fringe pirate groups, the first major source of space piracy since the disappearance of the Bretonian Buccaneers. The greatest of these exploration expeditions, however, were those undertaken between 743 and 745 A.S. which, among other things, led to the discovery of gold in Dublin and triggered the great Dublin Gold Rush that would end so tragically with the Founder's Day Revolt and the beginning of the war of independence by the Mollies in 752 A.S.
By 760 A.S. crime levels were rising sharply across Bretonia, as Gaians, Mollies and the arrival of outcasts and corsairs from the edge worlds began to take its toll on the law enforcement capabilities of the Bretonian Police Authority and Bretonian Armed Forces. The situation was so bad that Prime Minister Lord Walter Brinkley was forced to invite the Bounty Hunters Guild into Bretonia, granting them Sheffield Station from the BPA and ordering the construction of Newgate Prison.
By the arrival of the 9th Century the situation had stabilised somewhat, with the eastern Dublin system secured by a new Fleet under the HMS-Essex and the Gaians prevented from gaining a foothold in Leeds. Being the least affected of all the Houses by the turmoil caused by the 800-801 Nomad War, Bretonia's position relative to the other three Houses was restored somewhat from its decline over the previous 100 years.
Build-Up to Tau War
Queen Carina felt confident enough in 809 to order a renewed expansion by BMM into Tau 23, with an ambitious lane and gate construction project designed to assure Bretonia's economic prosperity for years to come. A brief legal crisis involving the Independent Miners Guild in 810, however, was to prove a trigger for renewed conflict over centuries old claims to the riches of the Tau region between Bretonia and the Empire of Kusari, and by 813 A.S. the two Houses were mobilising for war. Bretonia now faced what many considered the greatest threat to its existence in its 800 year history.
In the year 814 A.S., the rising tensions exploded into what would become known as the Tau War. Bretonia's claims to Tau space were rivalled by Kusari's claims to the same space. Having rapidly rebuilt their Navy after the Nomad War, Kusari had a largely new and up-to-date fleet prepared and ready for war. Bretonia had been in decline with the onset of the Nomad War and although the decline seemed to be at least temporarily halted, the BAF were not as well prepared for war or the Kusarian's fierce onslaught.
Moving from system to system, the frontlines of the war moved further and further towards Bretonia. Whilst the Kusari Naval Forces eventually did gain control over all the contested Tau systems, they ignored planet Harris, which had been heavily fortified with the help of the Mollys.
The war involved some of the largest battles that Sirius has ever seen. One of note, and indicative of the general faring of the war, was the failed Bretonian' counter attack to Kusarian forces in the Tau-31 system via the Dundee jumphole. Whilst the BAF did inflict losses on the Kusarian forces they were forced to retreat and lost more than they gained. All this served to do was weaken the BAF and alert the KNF to the presence of the Dundee jumphole.
The warfront continued to push towards Bretonia and by the year 817 A.S. Leeds itself was threatened. KNF forces had taken the northern sector of the system, including Stokes Mining Station, and were pressing further south towards Planet Leeds itself. The KNF Admiralty seems intent on striking at the heart of the enemy however, New London, and undoubtably intends to push further.