Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fragments from the Britiannic Isles

Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Great Britain: January 1889

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, looked out through the windows of his study, across the snow frosted gardens of his home. He sighed, suppressing an asthmatic cough will difficulty, the dull and dreary landscape, matched his mood at the moment. He had had a most eventful political career over the last fifty-two years, MP and accomplished backbencher, three times Chancellor of the Exchequer, once leader of the Opposition, and twice Prime Minister of Great Britain. It had all come to a crash in the end of course, the triple disasters of the unpopular although largely successful Second Afghan War in 1878-80, the catastrophic Zulu War in 1879 and the confounded Boer War in 1880-81 had finished him and his cabinet. Gladstone and his Liberals had swept to power before the year was out, although they had crashed in their turn with their stupid idea to go to war with the Ottoman Empire in 1882. To be fair, they had thought that a show of force off Alexandria along the Ottoman Egyptian coast would remind the Sublime Porte of their place in the scheme of things. Of course, the Ottomans had definitely not seen it Gladstone's or Admiral Beauchamp Seymour's way and the Royal Navy had wound up coming to blows with the Ottoman coastal forts! Within that week, Great Britain had  found itself at war with another Great Power. Disraeli had he admitted felt some grim satisfaction at the whole mess Gladstone had gotten himself and his Liberal cabinet into, although not for long, the war although mercifully short had cost Britain and it's empire dearly in terms of treasure and blood.

Britain had been unreasonablely lucky, that the rest of the Great Powers had been too busy tied up in their own affairs to either take notice or take advantage of the fracas. Germany had been too busy hammering France's armies into the ground, since the start of the Franco-German War in '81, for the second time this century and plunging France into internal political turmoil yet again for the second time this century, he thought mordauntly.  Disraeli suppressed a shudder of apprehension about that time. Germany had grown still stronger from that war and it's annexation of  it's neighbours: Belgium and the Netherlands, and their considerable colonial holdings had sent shockwaves through political, economic and military Europe. When and how that mess was going to clear up was anyone's guess, Disraeli thought grimly, even seven years on the implications were still being felt across the world in a hundred subtle and unsubtle ways.

Imperial Russia's government had at the time been greatly distracted by five all too nearly successful attempts by revolutionaries to assassinated the Tsar in 1881. The aftershocks of the turmoil that had caused had kept the Russians sufficiently busy til the middle of '82. With the main focus of it's foreign policy still concentrated in Central Asia and the Far East, Russia had been in no position other then to make some threatening diplomatic and military gestures along the common Russo-Ottoman borders in the Black Sea region, Persia and Afghanistan. Ironically these moves had in the long run helped Britain disentangle itself from the both unpopular and unsuccessful war, as neither Britain nor the Ottomans had wanted to give the Russians time or the means to get involved.

Spain and Scandinavia had very much other fish to fry at the time. Portugal had offered Britain a qualified support which was to be expected, considering the country's limited means at the time. Still it had been heartening, that Portugal felt the old friendship between the two countries still mattered enough for them to try to offer what help they could. Even if all they could offer at the time was single division of troops and a small squadron of ironclads.  Austria-Hungary had been too busy at the start of the whole affair trying to figure out what the Poles were doing, as well as the Russians, Roumanians, Bulgarians and Greeks were all up to to intervene for or against Britain. When the Austro-Hungarians did decide to intervention against the Ottomans, it had been decisive, and it had saved Gladstone's tottering Liberals and had eventually allowed Britain to end the war at the negotiating table after some twelve months of often bloody and strategically inconclusive fighting.

Italy, had joined Great Britain in the Anglo-Ottoman War, although only to take advantage of what they had considered to be Ottoman weakness. Disraeli snorted with some distain, the Italians had not gained much by it, the Ottomans had been anything but weak. The Italians had picked up a few less then choice bits of eastern Africa on the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and a crushing addition to their national debt. The Greeks, had also joined hands with Great Britain too. Not that it had availed them much other then yet another ruinous expenditure of lives and treasure. The Ottoman Army and Navy had been far too strong in the Aegean islands and the Ottoman Balkans for that.

Disraeli, felt another bout of asthmatic coughing filter up through his lungs. He sat down abruptly on the window sill, clutching his arms tightly around his chest, his walking stick fell unnoticed from his trembling hand to strike the floor. The fit passed, mercifully enough after a few minutes of gasping breathlessness. His twin scourges gout and asthma had nearly killed him back in 1881, even as it had felt like the bitter electoral defeat had been the end of his world and finished his political career forever. Still there was no finality in politics, times changed, people changed too. The Conservative Party had fractured into three parties since 1881, the Old Tories, the One Nation Tories and the New Conservatives. They faced the Liberals and Radical Parties across the floor of Parliament now, sometimes together, at other times at cross purposes. Surprisingly the Whigs under leadership of the Duke of Darkmoor had re-entered the political scene of Great Britain and formed a government or two, following the Liberals fall in 1884 under Gladestone.

He had to wait, plan for the future, build up his Tories from his position within the House of Lords as he had been doing the last few year, do what he could to head off stupid or poorly considered policies both with his vote in the Lords, and his friends and fellow One Nation Tories in the Commons. Mending the fences between the fractional Conservatives was another goal, although one Disraeli had little faith in, the breaches between them were to wide at present, although still just possible to bridge. Perhaps the office of prime minister or at least a cabinet office would be his again, where he could shape and advance policy and keep Great Britain save, secure and prosperous. So few people could  really be trusted with the safety of the Empire, he and others had worked so hard to create and more importantly sustain. He still had the ironclad loyalty and kind regard of his Queen, Victoria, these hopes were not ideal ones: they just awaited their proper moment....

A knock at the door of his study startled him out of his reverie. Disraeli straighten himself, reclaimed his stick from the carpeted floor. A glance at the clock showed it was just about to strike one o'clock, he remembered he had a most important interview to attend to today. It would not do for him to show infirmity. The Butler of Hughenden, swung open the door, behind him stood a man in the shadows that filled the hall.

"His Grace, the Duke of Darkmoor, to see you, milord."

Disraeli, allowed himself a small thin smile, yes things were moving more a pace then he had dared hope.

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