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Clockwise from top left: Hekuvian nuclear bombing of Pauldustllah, Kiravian planes being reloaded after conducting missions in 1952, Umcaran paratroopers landing during the Invasion of Pauldustllah in 1949, Flordetian soldiers during the Siege of Marcus in 1951
|Commanders and leaders|
King James VI (to 1929)
King Brian IV (1929-1947)
King Lucás IV (1947-1949)
King Patrick IV (1947 onward)
|Casualties and losses|
The Great War was a global war that lasted from 1927 to 1953. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the Great Powers of the time - were involved. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people and resulting in over 64 million deaths. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. It is marked by massive strategic bombing campaigns of industrial and civilian centers, trench warfare, the rise of mechanized warfare, and the only use of nuclear arms in war. It remains the deadliest conflict in human history.
Starting with the Southern Levantine Mediatization War, the Kuhlfrosi White Revolution, and the Third Caroline War the Holy Levantine Empire entered a period of terminal decline in terms of influence over its members and the working of its core institutions. Despite the best efforts of the Imperial Court in Corcra, the Kingdoms of Culfra, Latium, and Kingdom of Ultmar were rapidly liberalizing and eschewing centralized power in favor of various levels of devolution outside of the Imperial power structure. This started with the Kuhlfrosi White Revolution in 1823 when the Kingdom of Culfra was effectively dissolved and the Republic of Kuhlfros took its place. In the south, the Recess of the Julii continued as the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea had acted autonomously of the Empire since the Second Caroline War, dramatically reducing the resources and manpower available to the Empire. The Empire, and especially the Latins, tried to isolate Urcea in turn, and most of the Electors greatly resented the Urcean Crown since the War of the Caroline Succession temporarily stripped them of their authority in the later half of the 18th century. Urcea's conquest of Carolina and defeat of most of the Kingdom of Latium in the Third Caroline War proved another body blow to the authority of the Empire and created a generation of veterans in Latium who had been exposed to some of the Crown Liberalism ideas of the Urceans while captive as prisoners of war.
As a consequence of the Imperial Court in Corcra, many Latins in the Kingdom of Latium found themselves chafing under what Imperial authority remained, and particularly, the Latin bourgeois found that their Kingdom was falling behind the rest of the crumbling Empire in terms of liberalization. By the People’s Spring of 1848, formidable groups had formed in 15 states and formed their own protests, revolts, and organized labor actions. These were brutally suppressed by the Emperor, Louis XI. The People's Spring of 1848 saw several principalities in the Kingdom of Latium taken over by pseudo-revolutionary groups who first aimed at reform but later focused on toppling the Imperial Court as the Emperor proved intractable. These groups and Imperial forces fought several battles in 1848 and early 1849, but the focus shifted to politics as some of the more moderate states adopted parliaments after 1848, which the Emperor accepted as a necessary concession.
In the 1880s Diamavya invaded Kuhlfros and the Emperor enforced a non-engagement order, barring any of the Holy Levantine Empire states from coming to Kuhlfros’ defense. This breach of the long standing mutual defense custom of the empire led many to hold the court in Corcra in contempt and once again sparked the flames of dissent in the Kingdom of Latium. As a result of the Third Caroline War, many Latins had long feared that Urcea would attempt to consume the Kingdom of Latium and its constituent states, and Latins now felt that the only thing keeping the Urceans away - the Imperial Court - would no longer protect them. The breach of the mutual defense custom flamed these fears as some speculated that Corcra would attempt to keep the “northern liberals” out of “southern politics”.
In the 1890s, the Red Interregnum broke out in Urcea, and this destructive civil war lead to the Depression of 1900, which destabilized the Empire and lead to mass uprisings in the Kingdom of Latium. It also renewed an enmity between Caphiria and Urcea that would be an important undercurrent for the conflict in Catholic Levantia to come. Members of the Empire, and eventually the Empire as a whole, intervened in the war on behalf of House de Weluta against the Crown Regency of Gréagóir FitzRex, which sought, among other things, to have Urcea secede from the Holy Levantine Empire. FitzRex was replaced with the left wing short-lived Urcean Republic, which created an ideal radical socialist state from with Latinic revolutionaries were inspired. With the de Welutas restored to the Julian Throne, the Recess of the Julii came to an end, temporarily strengthening the Empire despite the severe economic depression and uprisings. During the conflict, there were isolated shooting incidents between the Levantines and Caphirians, who supported the Crown Regency. These skirmishes would prove to be a prelude to the coming conflict.
In 1909, the Grand Duchy of Anivania was gripped by violence as republican forces took control of the ducal palace and declared a republic. By 1911, they concluded a civil war and formalized the Serene Republic of Anivania. Utilization of “Serene” to emphasize the sovereignty of the state was not recognized by most other Imperial states, but its success in achieving and maintaining autonomy sparked other movements later. In 1920, as it became clear violence and instability was gripping the Empire, the Collegial Electorate did what would have been unthinkable a century before and elected King James VI as Holy Levantine Emperor in a last ditch effort to stabilize the Empire. It was thought that Urcea's muscle behind the Empire may give it the resources needed to hold itself together. The next year, in 1921, the Electorate of Aescarata faced a socialist revolt. Urcea intervened and soon the intervention became an occupation. In 1922, the Imperial charter was rewritten to include the bulk of the Electorate into the long-depreciated Imperial Kingdom of Urcea, validating the fears of an Urcean takeover of the region. By 1925, the region was considered a "powder keg", waiting for the right spark to explode. Seeking to capitalize on the internal strife in the Empire and to stem "Levantine Creep", in 1922, Caphiria began to send agents to foment unrest in the Holy Levantine Empire. Caphiria was motivated not only by an enmity for the Empire but by a renewed sense of Latinic nationalism, seeking to unify the Latinic world in the orbit of Venceia. Caphiria's interest was not in Latium per se, but rather eastward, in Veltorina, whose independence was guaranteed by Urcea and other Imperial states.
The 1925 election in the Republic of Lutsana saw the majority of seats in the legislature go to the Lutsana Worker’s Party and the appointment of a communist Prime Minister. Pope Pius XI and Emperor James III suppressed the results and called for a new election with more “acceptable” results, fearing that the excesses of the Worker's Party may lead to another iteration of the Urcean Republic. A movement of seeking more self-determination, that had long been simmering across the Latin States, erupted. The Lutsana Worker’s Party refused to heed the demands of the Pope and the Emperor. The Army of Lutsana’s high command sided with the Emperor and announced they would arrest any member of the Worker’s Party who attempted to enter the parliamentary chambers. The Worker’s Party formed an army of workers and stormed the parliament building, challenging the will of the soldiers to shoot upon their countrymen. The soldiers retreated, and the matter was dropped. In February 1926, a syndicalist government was elected in the Federal Republic of Geneseo. Again, the Emperor demanded a recount and sent detachment of the Royal and Imperial Army. They arrived at the border of Urcea and the Margrave of Novaustramark and were fired upon when they refused to stop. The incident sparked a border conflict between Urcea and Novaustramark, in which Urcea insisted that Imperial troops could not be barred from passage in any territory in the Holy Levantine Empire. Several Latin states pushed back declaring that they maintained the right to control their own borders and admit and deny who they chose. In turn, the Emperor began to mobilize the entirety of the Royal and Imperial Army. The mobilization was enough to quell the disquiet for the moment. The Army was stationed along the border of Urcea and the Burgundian territories of Faramount, both to intimidate rogue Latin states but also to emphasize a show of support for the government of Burgundie, which was viewed with increasing antagonism from the other state of Latium. Additionally, the dissenting states were leveled with the price of the mobilization and billeting as punishment for their recalcitrance. As the price tag grew so too did the discontentment. The Imperial Diet erupted into fist fights almost daily as the smaller states vied to get out from under the new Imperial tax.
In July the Grand Duchy of Loreseia exploded with a rash of violence towards the Imperial tax collectors. 13 of them were killed and 4 more were beaten heavily. The Imperial Bank branches were robbed and set of fire in 3 cities. In the Duchy of Upper Verecundia a mob attacked the Ducal Palace and burned one of its wings to the ground. August saw an escalation of violence across the region. Violent street brawls became common in the streets of major cities as political parties and anti-monarchists attempted to control important sectors and pieces of infrastructure. The Emperor declared his intention to restore order, but acted hesitantly in order to avoid further conflagration in Latium. By August, the Grand Duke had fled to Urceopolis and a provisional government was established.
Meanwhile, Caphiria hosted a secret meeting of Latin nationalists in order to strategize how to break the Levantine Imperial system. Under Caphirian guidance, the nationalist groups formed two field armies which were to be trained and supplied by Caphirian Imperial Legion attachés. The Loreseian provisional government volunteered as the landing point for the armies and to host the joint headquarters. On March 12, 1927 a massive flotilla of the Caphirian Imperial Naval Fleet landed the newly named Allied Armies of Latium. The field armies, the Northern and Southern Liberation Legions, set out to southern Loreseia where they would divide and move to their respective theaters to encourage other state armies to join them and stand up against the Imperial Government and seek national sovereignty and autonomy. A minority of the leaders also sought the total dissolution of the Kingdom of Latium or the entire Holy Levantine Empire.
Second Fratricide (1927-35)
The Northern Legion which landed in Loresia to start the conflict was numerically superior technologically inferior and relatively untrained compared to the forces they would face. They numbered several hundred thousand infantry soldiers and officers and an impressive amount of cavalrymen, and lacked any consistent form of mechanization and comprised of only a sparse number of artillery pieces, as it was hoped local forces may defect and provide the heavy artillery necessary for a campaign. Their cavalry units were primarily armed with 19th century carbine patterns like the Mannlicher M1888 and the Berthier rifle. Artillery support was limited to light and medium field guns as most large bore artillery pieces were built into forts and city fortifications and they lacked the logistical train to move and support them. The Northern Legion was supported by a machine gun corps that focused its power around its Tachankas to remain mobile with its infantry. The Southern Legion, a relatively small force of approximately 42,000 infantrymen and 8,000 cavalry included 6 squadrons of armored cars and a well-armed artillery element. A system of railways supported them to keep their logistical needs met. The Legion's infantry were provided with a great variety of small arms, requiring a complex logistical effort that slowed the Legion significantly, rendering the railways mostly unusable as the army tried to keep its 14 or more different calibers supplied. Machine guns from the Army of Anivania and the Balloon Corps from the Army Air Service of Cannella were provided to the Southern Legion.
Upon hearing of the landing the Royal and Imperial Army demanded that all parties lay down their arms, and the Emperor made a direct appeal to the states of Latium to muster their armies and gendarmes to quell any dissent and halt the invasion. A few weeks of awkward mobilizations and posturing started to see battle lines being drawn across Latium. On March 29th, the Allied Armies of Latium declared war on the Holy Levantine Empire and the Northern Legion marched on Drusla. The Duchy of Drusla, a strong ally in the region of Burgundie, called upon the Empire for aid. Upon consultation with the Emperor, the Army of Burgundie was set to deploy a division of freshly recruited militia to Drusla, but a telegram from the Government of Kuhlfros informed Burgundie that their forces entering the other states of Latium would be considered a violation of Imperial law and the neutrality of Latium, which Kuhlfros could not accept. The abstention of Kuhlfros from formally joining the Imperial Army and its threat was viewed as another fatal blow to Imperial stability and viewed as a tacit support for the nationalist movement in Latium. Imperial diplomats were sent to Brídhaven to negotiate a deal and the Burgoignesc troops were stationed on the border of Burgundie as negotiations pressed onward. The Northern Legion arrived at the capital of Drusla, however, before the Burgoignesc forces could cross the border. The city fell without a fight and the Army of Drusla was disbanded. The Free State of Drusla joined Loreseia as the first two self-declared independent countries in Latium.
In 1928, campaigning throughout Latium continued without clear result, though many of the remaining principalities of Latium were overthrown by socialists, liberals, and nationalists groups, who sometimes worked in tandem and in some states opposed each other. A civil war erupted between militant nationalists and liberals in the former Electorate of Aedanica and Caphirian diplomats had to step in to prevent the entire project from collapsing as a consequence. It was in this context that the Urcean government intercepted and decoded telegraph instructions from Venceia for the diplomats. The so-called "Order Affair" nearly led to direct war between Urcea and Caphiria, but Urceopolis ultimately backed down in an attempt to avoid a two-front war it did not believe itself prepared for.
In 1929, the Emperor died, and his son, Brian, was elected Emperor of the Levantines as Emperor Brian VIII. Many members of the Collegial Electorate, some of whom were now in exile, perceived that the Urcean Crown was acting with some hesitation, leading to disagreement among its members as to whether or not to continue the so-called "Urcean Experiment". In the final meeting of the Collegial Electorate however, King Brian IV received a plurality of twelve votes among five different candidates chosen by the thirty electors. The new Emperor had to forego the ceremonial coronation due to the emergency gripping the Empire and opted for the Pope to crown him in a small ceremony in St. Peter's Archbasilica. Later that year, Diamavya, looking to reverse its losses from its war in the 1880s, invaded northwestern Kuhlfros. Diplomatic correspondence between Urceopolis and Brídhaven proved Caphirian involvement and support behind Diamavya's decision to invade. As a consequence, Kuhlfros stopped its diplomatic and alleged materiel support of the Latin nationalists in order to focus on defending itself from a potential Diamavyan incursion, and formed a national emergency unity government.
Hoping to capitalize on the withdrawal of the Kuhlfrosi support, the Burgoignesc III Army Corps advanced to the foot of the Matavistas Mountains, in the Republic of Lutsana. The Burgoignians threw themselves against the lower slopes with enthusiasm. After quick gains in the foothills, the soldiers faced the steep rises and formidable terrain of the mountains. This gave the advantage to the Lutsanan and Jasonian Alpini. The Burgoignesc called upon their own alpine troops to dislodge the defenders. The 3rd Beaumiota Alpine and 8th Ouitelier Specialist Engineer Battalions were brought but the trenchworks and well-placed artillery saw them defeated within a month. The Army Air Service attempted bombing raids on the lower artillery emplacements but were thwarted by anti-aircraft batteries on higher peaks. The Raulie Bushrangers were called to the front and put to action. Their aggressive training on Mount Vitroluire in Burdeboch prepared them well for the harsh environment of the Matavistas Mountains. Arriving in October of 1929, the Bushrangers had taken the fight to the Lutsanans and Jasonians by mid-December. The front bodged down as winter set in. The Raulie Bushrangers were supported by the entire Beaumiota, Courmont, and Martiseau Alpine Regiments. As the early thaw of 1930, crept into the mountain ridges, the action resumed. Sappers readily dug and blasted deeper into the rock. Cannonades were constant. The highest elevations of the Matavistas were forever altered as summits were blasted, crevices and valleys were filled in with intentional landslides. The majority of the Burgoignesc III Army Corps moved on to other but the various Alpine units of the Army of Burgundie and its Burgoignesc Foreign Legion cycled through the Matavistas through the end of the war.
Up through 1930, the conflict took the form of the last semi-Maurician War, as soldiers fought in loose formation and cavalry charges were expected to be battle-ending blows, but it was clear from 1928 onward that these tactics were growing more ineffective with each battle, especially as Urcean industry began to roar to life as Emperor Brian recognized this conflict as the beginning of total war based on many of the lessons learned during the Red Interregnum. By 1930, the Caphirian government began an effort to ship more machine guns to Levantia in order to prevent the two Legions from losing parity on the battlefield with the better equipped Royal and Imperial Army. By February of 1931, trench warfare had set in as the two Legions formed a very long defensive line surrounding the core region of the Kingdom of Latium, including Corcra. With the Royal and Imperial Army on the advance, secret meetings began to take place in Urceopolis between delegates of some of the rebelling states and the Imperial government. The rift between the Caphirian-supported nationalists and the liberals, as well as the socialist states, had grown significantly in the three years since the Order Affair, and many of the liberal Latins were interested in peace, chief among them being the provisional government of Corcra. The Latin delegates argued that their goals and the Urcean ideology of Crown Liberalism were not incompatible and that the liberals had no desire to find themselves under Caphirian suzerainty. Negotiations continued in secret through most of the 1932 campaign season, as Caphiria finally felt confident enough in the turmoil in Levantia to declare war on Veltorina. The spread of hostilities to Sarpedon gave Urcea an extra incentive to end the fighting, and the fears of the Collegial Electors from 1929 were realized when Emperor Brian, seeing a possible end to the war, agreed to terms with the liberal states to recognize their reorganization. Emperor Brian also agreed to discuss a later settlement on the final state of the Empire and Kingdom of Latium, and agreed to peace - these terms were echoed in the Treaty of Corcra. Dozens of disaffected princes in exile in Urceopolis began to riot and were promptly arrested. The final phase of the war, following the so-called Liberal Shift, would see fighting between Latins as many of the liberal states joined the Royal and Imperial Army against both radical nationalists and socialist republicans in Latium.
By 1935, the Northern and Southern Legions were confined to a territory roughly equaling the Grand Duchy of Loresia and spent much of the time campaigning against socialist insurgents in Loresia and from other Latin states rather than Imperial forces. With the end of the Levantine front in sight, the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea declared war on the Imperium of Caphiria on February 3rd and began to actively interdict Caphirian supply shipments to Latium, though Urcea had been actively supplying Veltorina with arms and advisers for about three years. On May 2nd, the Northern and Southern Legions surrendered to the Royal and Imperial Army. Despite his victory, Emperor Brian surveyed Levantia and found a Kuhlfros undefended by the Empire, a Burgundie hopelessly engaged overseas, and a war-weary Kingdom of Latium. Fearing an attempted resurgence of Imperial power, Kuhlfros announced its secession from the Holy Levantine Empire on May 10th. Accepting the inevitable, the Emperor issued a formal proclamation "forever relinquishing...the responsibilities and administration of Imperial Governance in the Kingdoms of Latium and Culfra", effectively recognizing the collapse and end of the Holy Levantine Empire. Urcea, Kuhlfros, Burgundie, and the states of Latium agreed to the Treaty of Corcra. In the Treaty, all states acknowledged the "end" of the Empire and the Latinic states pledged to end any association with Caphiria, and the treaty recognized the Empire's continued existence only inclusive of Urcea. The Treaty also promised a future permanent settlement with regards to Latium, though this would not come to fruition until 1953 with the establishment of the Latinic States. With a separate peace found in Latium, the Royal and Imperial Army was sent west to focus the Kingdom's entire efforts against the war with Caphiria while sending arms and materiel to Kuhlfros. Despite the end of the larger conflict between great powers in Latium, the Third Fratricide between the new liberal regimes and socialist insurgents would continue into the 1950s, leaving the former Kingdom of Latium devastated from decades of warfare.
Ultmar Front (1929-19XX)
As noted above, Diamavya sought to reverse the losses it suffered against Kuhlfros in the 1880s and decided to invade Kuhlfros in 1929, taking advantage of the chaos going on within the Holy Levantine Empire.
Beginning in the 17th century, Urcea and the Holy Levantine Empire began to directly confront Caphiria and worked proactively to prevent its spread into Levantia. The Levantine powers began intervene in various conflicts and international incidents on Sarpedon, which Venceia had long considered its prerogative. In the Veltorinan War of Independence in the 1770s and 1780s, Urcea on behalf of the Holy Levantine Empire intervened, aiding the eastern provinces of Caphiria in their quest to secede. Not only did Caphiria lose that war, infuriatingly losing half of its territory to the new nation of Veltorina, but Urcea gained the new Kingdom of Dorhaven, giving the Levantines a toehold on mainland Sarpedon. Later, the Levantines gained the Legatation of Ankivara and Port de Vent. Out of these developments, the conspiracy theory of Levantine Creep developed - and Caphirian policymakers were determined to make any moves necessary to disrupt and dislodge the Levantine powers, actions it claimed to take in self defense.
The independence of Veltorina was considered a grave affront to the prestige and independence of Caphiria, but with guarantees on its independence from the Holy Levantine Empire, Caphiria was unwilling to take on the Empire by itself. Throughout the 19th century, Caphiria made contact with agitators and rebels throughout the Empire and especially within Latium. Famously, 1848 revolutionaries in Latium following the Second Caroline War refused to accept Caphirian assistance, hoping to curry favor with the Emperor of the Levantines, a strategy that failed. Caphirian concerns with Veltorina were escalated dramatically with the Tyrian Revolution in 1864, which turned its eastern neighbor into a socialist state. Despite this development, the Levantines refused to abandon Veltorina. Caphirian policymakers began to develop a long-term plan on how to proceed, and would spend the next several decades waiting for an opening.
A massive opportunity presented itself in the 1890s with the rise of Gréagóir FitzRex in Urcea and beginning of the Red Interregnum. Caphiria offered its full support to FitzRex, providing materiel and volunteers to fight against the now-hated House de Weluta. The prospect of a FitzRex victory was promising not only due to the destabilizing nature of regime change but because his desire to destroy socialism and secede from the Holy Levantine Empire lined up with Caphiria's own goals, and FitzRex indicated that if he was victorious, he may be willing to surrender Dorhaven and would not interfere in Veltorina. The Imperial Naval Fleet began to actively interdict the Navy of Burgundie, which impeded the Legitimist cause significantly. FitzRex began to embrace socialism in order to court lower class revolutionaries, allowing socialists to win a majority in the Concilium Daoni in 1900. Caphiria, bitterly disappointed, continued to support the regime with limited vigor, and their gradual withdrawal led to the Fall of Cana. The collapse of FitzRex's Crown Regency and the rise of the short-lived Urcean Republic led Venceia to reluctantly recognize the restoration of House de Weluta, but it had learned lessons during the war. Its preparations lead to the successful strategy described above in the Levantine theater; the full-blown civil war within the collapsing Holy Levantine Empire finally gave Caphiria the perfect opportunity to strike.
Having sufficiently caused a major conflict in Levantia which would distract Urcea and the Holy Levantine Empire from affairs elsewhere, Caphiria declared war and crossed the border of Veltorina on August 1st, 1932. The forces of Veltorina had long been preparing for such an invasion, which Urceopolis believed to be imminent, and the Imperial Legion spent much of 1932-1934 attempting to break through the heavily fortified borderlands with limited success. An attempt to break through in Balatum in the spring of 1935 was successful but saw Veltorinan forces temporarily contain the Legions.
In February 1935, Urcea formally declared war on Caphiria although it had been responsible for providing war materiel and advisers since the beginning of hostilities in 1932. Thinking quickly, the Imperial Legion high command determined that it needed to break through the Veltorinan defense line immediately, before the arrival of reinforcements from the Royal and Imperial Army or the war could potentially be lost. An extremely high-casualty all-out offensive in modern Sucalagio in July 1935 was waged and by the end of the month the Legions had broken the Veltorinan defense lines, although it's estimated a quarter of a million Caphirians were killed in the fighting. The so-called July Offensive also saw the first major use of the Imperial Aerial Defense Force in a revolutionary coordinated land-air operation, informing Caphirian commanders for how to wage aggressive campaigns later in the war. The pioneering use of aircraft in the July Offensive - they had previously been used primarily for reconnaissance and strategic bombing - led all parties in the war to scramble to build tactical bombers and ground-attack aircraft based on the lessons learned during the offensive.
The static border defenses were immediately demolished, and the Legions spent the remainder of the year attempting to regroup before furthering their advance.
Urcea's Royal Navy, with logistical support from the Navy of Burgundie, began to interdict trade between Ecinis and mainland Caphiria in February 1935, and began launching raids and strikes on key areas in hopes of baiting Caphiria's Imperial Naval Fleet into open combat in the Sea of Ecinis. The Royal and Imperial Army began rapidly reinforcing the Urcean-occupied portions of the island in preparation for a Caphirian assault. No assault came, however, as most of the available reserves had been pooled on the continent for the July Offensive.
The war began when the forces of Horholme invaded and occupied the territories of Vachenan Horholme that were territories controlled by the nation of Vachena after the Kiro-Burgundian Wars. This invasion prompted a Vachenan response backed by Heku to retake these territories. With Heku's involvement, Burgundie enforced its policy of Commonwealth, Common Defense, supporting Horholme with the assistance of its ally Pauldustllah. The resulting mobilization spiral unraveled a web of alliances that eventually led to the participation of most of the world's Great Powers.