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

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Nation States in An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron: Part Three

Africa: 1889

Morocco, ruled by Sultan Hassan I, the lands have prospered, reforms started by the previous sultan and carried through by Hassan, have seen the economy, civil administration and military of the country advance and improve by leaps and bounds. The Sultan and his government work carefully to maintain friendly diplomatic and trade relations with the Great Powers of Europe, being especially careful to avoid falling under the dominion of any one of them. France and it's aspirations both in the Senegal and Algeria is a particular worry, as is Spain, with it's claims to northern coastal Morocco and the Spanish Sahara to the south.

Rabahian Empire, founded by the powerful slaver, Rabeh Fadal Allah or Rabah Zubeir as he was also known, who proclaimed himself Sultan over the petty tribal kings and petty sultans of the Lake Chad region. Using his army of loyal and skilled Sudanese riflemen, he has quickly become known as the "Napoleon of Africa". While highly successful in his first wave of conquests, Sultan Rabah's efforts to further expand and secure his realm have been checked however: in the west by the Agadez, in the East by the Ottoman Empire, and to the South by the Germans. There remains only the north, and there is rumour of a fabulously wealthy collection of city-states hidden within the Tibesti mountains, if the rumours are true, Rabad means to add this fabled place: it's wealth and it's people to his expanding realm.

Zululand, a powerful African kingdom consisting of the tribal lands of the Zulus themselves, Swaziland, Transpongolaland and Natal, ruled by King Cetshwayo, ferociously independent and determined to remain so, the Zulus have built up their armies and modernized them with new tactics and modern weapons allowing them to fend off attempts by both the British and the Boers to subjugate them in the 1870s and 1880s. The Zulus know that either enemy will in the fullness of time try again to conquer them, and they work to make ready.

Ndebele Kingdom, ruled by King Lobengula Khumalo, the Matabele originally broke away from the Zulu Kingdom, and came north across the Limpopo River with the Zulu way of war, discipline and weaponry which they used to carve out a new kingdom of their own from the lands of the Mashona. Now the Mashona petty kingdoms and independent tribes bow to the Ndebele. It is only amatter of time before all the Mashonaland comes under the banner of the Ndebele. However not is all serene for the Matabele, outsiders, the Boers and the British have taken an interest in their tribal lands, seeking gold, diamonds, land for farming and cattle.   

Basutoland, A British protectorate founded in 1884, due to the British Cape Colony being unable to govern or control the Basuto tribes effectively. Ruled technically by a paramount chief, Letsie I Moshoeshoe of Lesotho, actual control lies in the hands of a British appointed Resident-Commissioner.

Orange Free State, the senior of the two Boer republics in southern Africa, the Boers glare at the British Cape Colonies to the south and west, while shuddering at Zululand to the east. The Boers of the Orange Free State, are at odds with the British and have so far staved off attempts by the British to force a protectorate upon them, although the memory of the 1881 Anglo-Boer War means that the Boers fear the British will make another attempt if they show a moment of weakness.

Transvaal Republic, the younger of the two Boer republics, these Boers are even more conservative and isolationist then their fellows in Orange Free State. The relations between the two Boer republics are sometimes tense, although a sense of kinship and common cause means they can usually present a united front against the British as in the 1880-1881 Anglo-Boer War. The Transvaalers however save their greatest fear and loathing for the Zulus who have stolen away the Vynheidland from them, following an attempt by the Boers to force the Zulu Kingdom to capitulate in 1882. The resultant war was a catastrophe for the Transvaal Republic.

Tukolor Empire, one of the largest African empires, ruled by the Sultan Ahmadu, centered on it's relatively new capital of Timbuctu on the Upper Niger River. By African standards, the empire is both powerful militarily, politically stable and moderately prosperous. That very prosperity has however attracted the attentions of the French who pushing out from their colonies in Senegal and Mauritania, threaten the Tukolor Empire's western borders and in the long term, Tukolor territorial sovereignty, despite French claims of friendship and commerce.

Agadez Caliphate, ruled by Sultan Umaru bin Ali, founded by retreating elements of the Sokoto Caliphate, which failed due to internal rebellion and the arrival and steady colonial developments in West Africa by first the Electorate of Brandenburg-Prussia, then the Kingdom of Prussia and finally the German Empire. Umaru bin Ali, rules his lands from his great palace at the foot of the Massif de L'Air. The Caliphate is now under threat from the Tukolors in the west, the Germans from the south, and Rabahian Empire's expansionism in the east.

Wassoulou Empire, founded by the remarkable Alamamy Samori Toure, this empire is completely his creation and held together solely by his personality and will. Using sound principals of government and administration, the Wassoulou Empire in the western sudan, based on the Niger river at Bamako is the rising star of West Africa. Prosperous from gold mining, caravan trade and slave trading, the empire has developed a powerful, well disciplined and well armed army, capable of fending off outside encroachments and internal rebellions. Samori is however apprehensive about his relations both for the present and in the future with his neighbours: the British (in Sierra Leone), the Germans (in German West Africa), the Tukolors (to the east) and most of all the French (to the west in Senegal and Mauritania and the distant north in Algeria).

Madagascar, ruled by the Queen Ranavalona III, the Malagasy have prospered and developed largely on their own terms, and require little from the Great Powers, save to be left alone.  The island nation however looks apprehensively at the shadow of France, which falls across it, and controls many of the island groups around it and each year tries to make new encroachments upon the kingdom's sovereignty via trade concessions and increasingly stringent political demands for a French protectorate over the island. Worryingly Britain, once a friend, seems disinclined to restrain French ambitions for the island nation.

Abyssinia, the fabled African kingdom, later empire said to have been founded by the legendary Prester John, it is a rugged, virtually landlocked country and a place of ancient culture . This country is also one of the last true absolute monarchies in the world, blending both elements of kingship and Ethiopian orthodox theocracy. Reliable records within the Empire go back to the 1130s, although fragmentary records going back to at least the 9th Century have been discovered within the Imperial or Monastic achieves within the borders of the nation. The country (sometimes referred to as Ethiopia) has prospered to varying degrees under the many dynasties that have held the throne since the Zagwe Dynasty started the line of the King of Kings. The current Emperor/King of Kings or Negus is Yohannes IV of the Solomonic Dynasty's Tigrean Line.

Liberia, the only republic in West Africa, ruled by President Hilary Richard Wright Johnson, was established by the efforts of the American Colonization Society (a lobbying group dedicated to the resettling of free-born or manumitted American Negros) in January 7th, 1822. The A.C.S. closely controlled the emergent colony until July 26th, 1847, when the Liberian Legislature declared the colony - then called the Commonwealth of Liberia - an independent nation. The United States of America did not formally recognize this state of affairs until February 5th, 1862, the A.C.S. did not recognize Liberia's independence until 1867. The Liberian Republic annexed the neighbouring independent Republic of Maryland, in March 18, 1857, which had been settled by free-blacks and manumitted slaves primarily from the State of Maryland via the auspices of the Maryland State Colonization Society. The republic is a nation split between two parties, the Republicans and True Whigs, and two important ethnic and political divides, the Americo-Liberians (the original American settlers and their decendents) and the Indigenous Africans.

 Buganda, -- Work in Progress.

Toro/Tooro, one of five traditional kingdoms of Uganda, was founded in 1830 by Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I, the eldest son of the Omukama of Bunyoro, Nyamutukura Kyebambe III. Olimi I had successfully seceded from his father's realm and fashioned his own independent kingdom. Tooro remained independent until 1876, when is was reabsorbed into the Bunyaro-Kitara kingdom for a short period before reasserting it's independence.

Ankole/Nkore, One of the five traditional kingdoms of Uganda, was founded in the 15th century in the south western portion of Uganda, east of Lake Edward. The founding people of Kingdom of Ankole, the Banyankole, were a Bantu people and maintained much of their traditional customs and language. The monarch of Ankole was titled the Mugabe or Omugabe.

Busoga, The Land of the Soga, one of the five traditional kingdoms of Uganda, it is composed of some eleven principalities, it's earliest written historical records goes back to the 1862 following contact with European African explorers and missionaries. The country is by the standards of the region prosperous and densely populated compared to some of it's neighbours, although sometimes prone to outbreaks of famine and epidemics in consequence. Many of inhabitants of the kingdom originated in other tribal areas and migrated to Busoga to make a fresh start, following their traditional clan or chiefdoms decimation by plagues and famines. The kingdom's economy is centered on agriculture and various cottage industries, and the production of both cash and food crops, such as cotton, coffee, bananas, potatoes, cassava, fruits and vegetables. Subsistence farming is slowly but steadily becoming a thing of the past and the surplus of goods is fueling both increased trade with the kingdom's neighbours as well as a raising standard of living for the kingdom's inhabitants.

Bunyaro/Bunyaro-Kitara, One of the five traditional kingdoms of Uganda, Bunyaro occupied a portion of Western Uganda and was reckoned on of the most powerful kingdoms in Central and East Africa from the 13th century onwards until it began to fade in significance from the 16th century. By the 18th century internal divisions were causing Bunyaro to seriously decline, the Kingdom of Buganda was quick to profit by this and seized the Kooki and Buddu regions. Toro seceded and claimed much of valuable saltworks. By the 19th century, Bunyaro (also called Unyoro by this time) was a much smaller state then it had been at the height of it's powers. Despite this, Bunyaro was still significant amoung the five kingdoms due to it's not inconsiderable wealth, from control of the trade routes over Lake Victoria and trade links to the Indian Ocean, particularly the ivory trade. Further it still held control of several of the holiest shrines in the region, controlled the Kibiro saltworks of Lake Albert and maintained the highest quality metallurgy in the area, which made it even as it faded one of the strongest military and economic powers in the African Great Lakes region. Armed struggles between Bunyaro and Buganda over the Ivory trade were to be a continued problem from this point onwards, as was periodic bouts of internal political instablility.

New Moscow, a Free Cossack colony established on January 6th, 1889 by the Cossack adventurer and African explorer Nikolay Ivanovitch Achinov, who had previously visited Abysssinia on behalf of the Russian government to establish clerical and political ties between the two countries in 1883. In 1888 upon returning from Abyssinia and the Horn of Africa region, Achinov put into effect plans to mount an expedition to the Gulf of Tadjoura to establish a permanent Russian settlement there. Achinov gained semi-offical financial and logisitical backing for the venture from the Imperial Russian government on being given assurances that Achinov had cemented agreements with Mohammed Loitah, the Sultan of Tadjoura for the permanent lease of the necessary land to establish the colony.

The expedition gathered it's vanguard in Odessa in the Black Sea, some 165 Terek Cossacks and 35 Russian Colonists and a great deal of logisitical supplies, tools and trade goods. The espediton travelled first by Russian owned vessels, the Kornilov and Lazarev, to Alexandria and Port Said in the Ottoman province of Egypt. The expedition was joined by the chartered Austrian vessel Amfitrida, the trio then entered the Gulf of Tadjoura and landed at Sagallo. Achinov renamed Sagallo, New Moscow after occupying Sagallo and setting up camp in the abandoned Ottoman fortifications and outposts in the area.

The French administration in French Somilialand are at present, completely unaware of the Russian colony's existance and will be very put out, when they do. The french have concentrated most of the their colonialization efforts at Obock to the south across the Gulf of Tadjoura, paying scant attention to the northern part of the country that they claim.

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