History of Urcea
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The History of Urcea as a unified state can be treated as beginning in 1098 with the political union of the Archduchy of Urceopolis and Grand Duchy of Yustona into a united kingdom called Urcea, though scholars are in disagreement about whether or not the idea of the "Urcean state" began at that point or earlier, during the period of the Archduchy's ascendancy. As such, this history covers the history of Urcea and its predecessor states.
Coming up from the chaotic period following the destruction of Great Levantia, power began to slowly accumulate in the Duchy and later Archduchy of Urceopolis, accelerated by the initial formation of the Holy Levantine Empire, which elevated Urceopolis to a duchy. Following the accumulation of Urceopolis, Yustona, and some other lands, Urcea was elevated to a Kingdom in 1098 by the Emperor of the Levantines. After its consolidation, several hundred years of dynastic turmoil would follow before House de Weluta solidified its reign at the end of the Great Confessional War and Protestant reformation. The de Weluta dynasty would rule over the Holy Levantine Empire intermittently until the beginning of the 19th century, after which time a period of increasing liberalization and reform changed Urcea from an amalgamation of personal territories and holdings to a unified and powerful nation-state. After a brief period of deposition before and during the Red Interregnum, the de Welutas reestablished control and continued the shift of the country in a more constitutional direction. Urcea, a Constitutional Monarchy, participated in the Great War and the downfall of the Holy Levantine Empire, and has been an important world power in the period since. Throughout its entire history, Catholicism has played a critical political and social role in Urcea, and the association between Catholicism and Urcea is known throughout the world as one of the country's defining characteristics.
- 1 Early History
- 2 Archducal Period
- 3 Early Kingdom Period
- 4 Saint's War Period
- 5 Reformation Period
- 6 Imperial Period
- 7 Reform Period
- 8 Restoration Period
- 9 Modern Period
- 10 See Also
Further Information: Great Levantia
The history of Urcea stretches back as an outgrowth of both the early Adonerii civilization as well as out of Great Levantia but definitively through the context of the growth of the Holy Levantine Empire. The river valley embracing the River Urce was almost entirely populated by peoples speaking a mixture of Latin and Gaelic by the middle of the 7th century. Particularly, following the protracted collapse of the central authority in the region with the decline of Great Levantia and its successors, a band of competing clans dominated the river valley. These valley clans were primarily Gaelic in nature and eventually constructed series of fortified mansions that would later become castles, creating a chaotic political situation that prevented coalescence of power by any one individual or family in the Urce Valley region.
By the 7th century, the cultural and ethnic divide of the former heartland of Great Levantia included three primary groups; Latinic people, Latino-Gaelic people, and Gaelic people, accounting for approximately a quarter, half, and a quarter, respectively. Upon the arrival of Latinic settlers from Adonerum in the millennium BC, many native Gaelic tribes fled eastward into the modern day Deric States or southward into modern day Gassavelia, leaving the Urcean plain open for settlement by Latinics. Historians estimate that the first few groups of Latinic settlers - those that settled more precisely in modern day Urcea - were almost exclusively men, leading to a necessary intermarriage with local Gaels. By the 300s BC the people of Great Levantia had taken on a clearly divergent set of cultural mores and practices compared to other Latinic states such as Caphiria, though they attributed these differences to the "pioneer spirit" rather than to adopting Gaelic practices. Despite having Gaelic influences from the very beginning of Latinic settlement, a clear prejudice began to form against Gaels, with the Latinic population creating the dichotomy of themselves as civilized and the Gaels as barbarians.
In the height of Great Levantia, approximately around 200 AD, the propagation of the Latinic identity and destruction of local Gaelic identity was largely complete in the area of the modern day Archduchy of Urceopolis and to a lesser degree in the other parts of the Empire, especially not in Gaul. The decline of the Empire, though, brought a reversal of fortunes for the Latinic name. Waves of Gaels who had been pushed aside nearly a millennia prior began to variously pillage, raid, invade, and settle in the Empire, bringing a resurgence of Gaelic culture - and people - into Levantine society. Additionally, Gaelic people began to stream out of northwestern Great Levantia fleeing the advance of the Gothic people in the 4th and 5th centuries, bringing large numbers of Gaelic people seeking shelter in the Urce River valley. Intermarriage between Latinics and Gaels became very common following Amadeus Agrippa's Christianization of the Empire. The sack of Urceopolis by Caens and Picts in 434 sent huge numbers of Latinic refugees eastward into the modern Deric States, further weakening the presence of so-called "pure Latins" in Urcea. The oft-cited demographic described above - a quarter Latinic, half Latino-Gael, and a quarter Gaelic - was largely brought about by the chaos of the last days of the Empire. It would play a critical role in the politics and society of the areas of the Latin League just prior to the formation of the Levantine Empire in 760.
The City of Urceopolis had been the seat of power in Great Levantia and remained relevant in Levantine geopolitics since its collapse, forming the seat of several provincial and petty kingdoms until the formation of the Duchy of Urceopolis in 643 AD, consisting of the City, its hinterlands, and a sizable portion of the Urce river valley. The City itself had a strong concentration of population in the Pale and along the Urce River due to the cessation of aqueduct functions, but large portions of the city lay abandoned and crumbling from the former heights of the city's glory as center of Great Levantia. Disease and poor sanitation was also particularly widespread in the city throughout the period as the running water had ceased. Powerful families and local magnates seized some of these areas and established, using the stone of ruins, fortified mansions of their own, establishing pseudo-fiefdoms within the city walls themselves. These magnates would often impose tolls on travelers and pilgrims entering the city.
Unlike later offices, this Duchy was initially elective between several of the most powerful families and clans within the city, particularly the clans Neronii and Brutii, whose pedigree extended back far enough to have been able to boast of Consuls of Great Levantia among their number. The Dux of Urceopolis was elected by the tribal assembly, an institution dating back to the early days of Great Levantia. The Dux would very rarely take a stand against the magnates unless they were rivals; the lawlessness of the Dux's allies usually continued unabated. The most successful Duke of this proto-Urcean state was perhaps Tiberius II Neronii, who had managed to subdue many of the local magnates both in the city and the country, consolidating his power. His childless death in 690, however, meant that his newfound patrimony was again split among several relatives, though this consolidation of power in the Duchy for the Neronii family and the practical elimination of the Brutonii in this period paved the way for a later ruler to consolidate the Duchy.
During the Duchy period, Urceopolis constantly feuded with Yustona and Gallawa, two of the other large polities on its border, though the lands of Urceopolis and Yustona formed the backbone of the Latin League, a coalition of several polities and city-states aimed at mutual defense against both Hištanšahr and Gallawa. Beginning ca. 690, Gallawa united the other petty Gael kingdoms into one sprawling empire. It was in this geopolitical context that St. Julius I was elected Dux of Urceopolis.
Gaius Julius Cicurinus was, in 749, elected from the marginal Julii family following an impasse in the tribal assembly between the Neronii and the Scipii families. Julius's ascendant career was based on his steady command and fighting prowess against Hištanšahr as well as other eastern non-Christian raiders as part of a Latin League army. Many major victories in a lesser command of Latin League armies over Hištanšahr earned him the agnomen "Usdenicus". Through his early reign, the two polities cooperated in wars against Levantine pagans and the various victories brought the new Dux not only prestige but loot recovered from the raiders as well, which allowed the Dux to fund further campaigns and rebuilding efforts in Urceopolis. Besides his military commands, the Julii were well known supporters of the full integration of Gaelic people into Urceopolitan society. Though most of the residents of the Duchy by this time were Latino-Gaels as described previously, the nobility of the city retained the typical proud Latinic heritage despite being part ethnically Gael themselves, as Julius was. Consequently, people of patrilineal Gaelic descent were excluded from membership in the tribal assembly. Julius spent much of the first four years of his reign reforming the Duchy by fighting rebellious river magnates as well as disgruntled nobles in the city who opposed his so-called "Gaelicization" project. Forming a strong relationship with the Pope and marrying the daughter of the most powerful Neronii magnate in the city, Duke Julius ultimately outmaneuvered his rivals and assumed near-total control over the city by 753 AD and had subdued most of the river magnates by 755 despite being on campaign elsewhere for much of the preceding years. During these critical years of his early reign, Julius successfully integrated twenty five tribes of Gaels into what is now known as the Estates of Urcea, establishing the Estate rolls that are still in place today. While the Estates had assumed something resembling their familiar feudal form by this point, they were still an important source of client-patron power for the Dux, and this move guaranteed the victory of the Julii in potential future elections for Dux in the tribal assembly. It was additionally during this period that the future Saint established several monasteries in the city but especially in the Urce Valley that would later form the basis for great monastic estates that would become the nucleus of the suburban cities of Urceopolis. His Neronii wife died in 756 AD, leaving the Dux in mourning; historians tend to see the politically savvy marriage as a generally happy one.
Gallawa began its campaign in 750 against the former heartland of Great Levantia with the ascension of Conchobar as its King. Swiftly conquering outlying Latin areas, the Latin League began to assemble and elected Julius its head given his military successes. With the Gaelic tribes integrated, Julius began to raise huge levies of Latino-Gaelic tribal soldiers to accompany the armies of the Latin League. Julius won several major victories against Conchobar, culminating with the Battle of Beldra in 755, where the well-disciplined Latino-Gael army of more than 45,000 defeated an army of Gallawa of about 125,000. Realizing that Levantia could not be overcome without first unseating Julius, Conchobar ultimately set his eyes on the “crown jewel of Levantia”, Urceopolis, beginning their march against it in 756 AD. The cities and nobles of the Latin League, however, had long been disgruntled with having to accommodate Gaels, whom they regarded as their enemy in the war. They unceremoniously voted to replace Julius in 757 and sent him home.
The Dux began to prepare the defenses of the city and army as several of the noble families fled or fought the Gaels in losing pitched battles along the river, and many local magnates were brought to heel while many others saw their castles destroyed and their patrimony shattered. Inversely, the fortunes of the Latin League were reversed almost immediately as Julius was sent away, and streams of Latinic refugees began to flood into Urceopolis, bringing about a major surge in population that brought the city back to demographic prominence after it was depopulated as a result of the sack in 434. As Gallawa drew closer in 759, the Duke was approached by the Pope, who advised that, rather than fight, the Duke should submit. Julius would later write that he found himself “greatly troubled, but St. Joseph appeared in a dream”, stating that Duke Julius should “neither fight nor flee like the Holy Family to Egypt, but rather submit to the men before you, for they are good Christian men; Our Divine Savior will not permit suffering to befall you or your city”.
The next day, Julius told the Pope of this then departed the city towards the siege camp of the King of Gallawa, Conchobar. Julius met Conchobar in the field between the camp and the city, and to the latter’s surprise, Julius bent the knee and submitted himself to Conchobar as his subject. The King of Gallawa embraced Julius and, according to legend, told Julius of a vision of St. Joseph he had received that Urceopolis would be part of a great Christian Empire without so much as a drop of blood being shed. King Conchobar entered the city then asked Julius to marshal his forces and march on Yustona, which fell to the combined armies in the span of a month. In exchange for his loyalty, Conchobar granted Julius the title of Archduke of Urceopolis and also granted the new Grand Duchy of Yustona to Julius’s brother, Aedanicus. Later, in 761, Conchobar was crowned Emperor of Levantia in Urceopolis by the Pope, forming the Levantine Empire. St. Julius I remained a loyal vassal of the Emperor and continued to defend the Imperial frontier against pagans, eventually working to convert large groups later in life. Julius died in 800 AD and was canonized by the Church in 1097, forming an important basis for the arguments that eventually lead to the issuance of the Golden Bull of 1098, in favor of the Saint’s descendants.
As Archduke, Julius introduced multiple reforms, most notably further integrations of Gaelic and several forms of the bastardized hybrids of Gaelic and Latin as government languages of the Archduchy, changes that eventually lead to the official adoption of Ábciwidar as the official language of state and commerce by the Kingdom of Urcea several hundred years later. His project of elevating the Latino-Gaels - the Urcean people - into full integrated status within the Archduchy gave him the legacy of being the "founding father of Urcea."
Though the Conine Dynasty established the Imperial capital in the city of Corcra, Urceopolis remained the largest city in the Empire and the most powerful vassal the Emperor could call on. This would occasionally lead to friction between the Archdukes and the Emperor; the Julii dynasty was briefly deposed following a failed rebellion and the death of Archduke Conchobar in 865, leading to a local noble elected by the the city’s leading families upon the request of the Emperor that year. The noble, Aedanicus, was soon deposed by the Julii dynasty and the Emperor, on who Aedanicus relied upon to remain on the Throne, did nothing. No other direct conflict between the Archdukes and the Emperor would occur, as a more friendly and symbiotic relationship between Urceopolis and Corcra became established.
917 AD was a momentous year, both for the Archduchy of Urceopolis and the Holy Levantine Empire. The Tribal Assembly of Urceopolis, which was an ancient institution dating back to antiquity and was a critical institution in the middle period of Great Levantia, met for the last time. This momentous occasion is perhaps only notable in hindsight, as the Assembly was never formally dissolved and instead faded into obscurity as the eligible voters were spread further and further from Urceopolis, making meetings of what was once a "popular urban assembly" impossible. For the Holy Levantine Empire, the Empire was divided among the sons of Emperor Brian III according to the traditional practice of inheritance dating back to Gallawa. This division - and the subsequent inability to decide which son of Brian III would become Emperor - lead to the functional disintegration of the Empire. This left the Archdukes owing their allegiance to the Southern Kingdom of the Levantines, also known as Carolingia or Carolina due to the name of its first king, Charles. Within this Southern Kingdom, the Archdukes found themselves to be nearly on par with the King in terms of wealth and manpower, leading to a troubled relationship between the two lines of rulers for the entirety of the Kingdom’s existence. This was complicated by the dynastic situation of the descendants of Saint Julius I. In 922, the last male-line heir of St. Julius in the Archduchy of Urceopolis, Cumhachtabilis, died without issue. The closest heir was Grand Duke Seán, of the Grand Duchy of Yustona, direct descendant of Saint Julius I's brother who had been placed there as Grand Duke in the 8th century. The King of Carolingia viewed this to be unacceptable, as the combination of the so-called "Julian Realms' would render him impotent. The King of Carolingia attempted to take the Archduchy for himself as a new center for his Kingdom, sparking what historians would refer to as the War of the Urceopolitan Succession between the House Yustona (including loyalists in the vacant Archduchy) and the King. In the end, Grand Duke Seán triumphed and was crowned Archduke of Urceopolis and also Mayor of the Palace (of the Southern Kingdom of the Levantines), elevating House Yustona to the true power in the Kingdom. Seán would marry his eldest son to a bride from the direct descent line of Saint Julius I, which would eventually bear Niall of House "Julio-Yustona". Seán died in 930; he was succeeded by his son Seán II, who was deathly ill at the time of his assent. Upon his death, his uncle Niall, brother of Seán I seized the Throne, on the basis that the young Niall (son of Seán I) was too weak to rule. The King, however, would intervene and the elder Niall was killed on the battlefield, allowing the 7-year old Niall of House Julio-Yustona to become Archduke and Grand Duke. The King believed that a young heir would allow the Conine dynasty to reclaim power within the Kingdom, though his death and succession of his own young son meant that they could not consolidate power in time.
In 965, the Eastern King of the Levantines, a man named Leo, a Derian noble, deposed the Conine King in the Southern Kingdom with the considerable assistance of the Archduke of Urceopolis, who invited his invasion. The Pope crowned Leo as Emperor in 972, reforming the Levantine Empire, though permanently without the Western Kingdom of the Levantines. The Leonine Dynasty proved short lived, and its failure to produce an heir lead to near-open revolt. The Archduke of Urceopolis at the time, Julius III, joined the rebelling factions, eventually winning and securing that the Emperor would be elected by the most powerful or worthy vassals of the Empire via the Collegial Electorate. Julius Secures the Imperial Liberties, a romantic painting of the Archduke forcing the Imperial regent to sign a charter (the Pragmatic Sanction of 997) following the regent’s defeat on the field, became an iconic rallying symbol for Urcean national identity within the Empire in the 19th century. Archduke Julius III’s son, Adrian IV, became Archduke and Grand Duke in 1002, and he himself was elected Emperor in 1014, becoming Emperor Adrian II, the first of several of the family of St. Julius to become Emperor. During his reign, Emperor Adrian convened the first Great Landsmeet in 1022. This Landsmeet was envisioned by the Emperor as a meeting of all of the Custóirs of the Estates of Urcea as a system to resolve disputes within the Archduchy-Grand Duchy between the various optimate families, whose feuding undermined the realm. The Great Landsmeet was also devised as a system to help assist in administration of the realm by way of consensus, an early example of the foundation of the Constitution of Urcea. The Great Landsmeet would meet only upon the call of the Archduke, and during its existence it met dozens of times in its centuries of existence. It replaced the earlier Tribal Assembly, which had not met since 917, and given that only the heads of the 50 estates were required to participate, it was considerably easier to gather enough Custóirs to have a working meeting. The Great Landsmeet would remain a permanent institution for centuries. Adrian, reformer and the "First Urcean Emperor", died in 1036.
By the late 11th century, the Holy Levantine Empire had already approached something resembling its territorial peak; the Luciusian Dynasty had conquered the area of modern northern Kuhlfros, an area that had eluded central authority for nearly a millenia. This area was, at that time, part of a larger region commonly known as Ultramurus, that is, “beyond the wall”, referring to the walls constructed by Great Levantia to signify their northern borders, which today is referred to as Ultmar. Within the Empire, the position of the Archduchy-Grand Duchy continued to grow, acquiring several lands and titles outside the traditional geographic boundaries of Urceopolis-Yustona, particularly over Cape Aedan and down into the modern province of Callan but also as far north as the city of Killea. These lands were all established under the Kingdom of Latium in 1043, which encompassed, for the most part, the southern half of the Empire; the Kingdom of Culfra encompassed the north. Additionally, the Golden Bull of 1043 also set the amount of electors at 9; neither Yustona nor Urceopolis were granted the electoral dignity as it was thought to be a way to balance its power relative to the rest of the Empire. This lead to a 100-year quest on the part of the Julio-Yustona Dynasty to acquire a vote for Emperor, either by a chance to the law or by inheritance.
During this period, Urcean nobles began their participation in the Crusades as part of a general effort by the Holy Levantine Empire to turn back the influence of the Oduniyyad Caliphate in Sarpedon and elsewhere. Beginning in 1095 with Pope Urban II's call for a restoration of Christendom in Sarpedon, the Archduke-Grand Duke of Urceopolis, Riordan II, fought in several campaigns before returning to Levantia in 1097, accumulating a great deal of prestige for himself and his dynasty following several successful reconquests in southern Sarpedon. Simultaneously, the Kingdom of Culfra began to openly discuss separating from the Empire altogether or deposing the Collegial Electorate in favor of a hereditary northern King, and by 1096 began to march for Corcra. Freshly off campaign and with his resources having been spent for the crusade, Riordan II pledged neutrality, which would have weakened the Imperial cause to the point in which a dissolution of the Empire could have plausibly occurred. The Emperor Charles II Luciusian began to seek ways of winning the Urceopolitan monarch back to his side, and settled on an offer of Kingship and consolidation. Citing the recent canonization of St. Julius I, the pious prestige accrued during the recent Crusade, and the considerable lands and titles his successors had acquired, the Emperor offered Riordan a Kingship formed out of all of western Latium to be nominally part of a new Kingdom of Urcea. Riordan accepted, and Emperor Carles II issued the Golden Bull of 1098, which created the Kingdom and consolidated all of Riordan’s holdings under him and compelling the other vassals in the region to be nominally subservient to him. With the support of the new Julian Crown, the Imperial faction won the war. Riordan I (adopting new regnal numbering) styled himself Apostolic King in light of his holy ancestor, and the title remained from that point onward.
Early Kingdom Period
The grant given under the Golden Bull of 1098 should not be understood to constitute a cohesive political entity; it elevated Riordan and his heirs to the level of Kings and consequently made their lands Royal domains, but it did not give them wide-reaching powers over the other Imperial vassals of the former Southern Kingdom of the Levantines. The distinction between the King as ruling over a cohesive territory called Urcea and over a Kingdom within the Holy Levantine Empire called Urcea caused a great deal of confusion during the early periods of Urcean historiography. Consequently, historians developed the term Imperial Kingdom of Urcea to describe the entity in which the vassals of the area did the Apostolic King of Urcea homage in exchange for protection, and the convention of the term will be used for the remainder of this article.
Royal Dynasty of Julio-Yustona and Interregnum
Aside from its final two rulers, the Julio-Yustona Dynasty - Urcea's first - was notable among contemporaries for their progeny; Aedanicus II had fourteen children, and his son, Niall I, managed six. The realm remained stable during the reign of these early Kings, providing an important source of manpower for the Emperor and an equally important "check" on Imperial power, contributing to emerging political precedent for a limited role of the Emperor in the individual affairs of the Princes of the Empire. The borders of the Kingdom remained stable under this period as well; the Kings valued the then-status quo position of the realm within the Empire, though some small gains were made - most notably extending the realm south to the Callan River, acquiring much of what is today known as the province of Callan. The Kingdom's aggressive posture with regards to its southern boundaries began to put it directly in conflict with the Duke-Elector of Canaery.
Not unlike the revolt in 1098, the Emperor of the Levantines called on the Apostolic King of Urcea once again in 1143, as the so-called "Caenish League" was formed in revolt under the leadership of the Elector of Canaery in an effort to expand the Collegial Electorate to a greater number of Princes within the Empire. The rationale for the Elector siding with the league are not well understood, given that it would reduce Canaery's influence, but it is thought by a consensus of historians that many of the league members - those who would stand to benefit - were viewed by the Elector as marriage prospects for his many daughters, thus potentially increasing his power. Whatever the case may be, again like in 1098, the Emperor decided to "sweeten the pot" so to speak by offering the Apostolic King a prize for his participation in the revolt; the prize the Julio-Yustonas had been seeking for decades, the Electorate of Canaery, was offered as spoils for King Niall I's participation in the war. The reign of Niall I proved to be the high water mark for the dynasty; his predecessors had successfully maneuvered for Niall to have a relatively strong claim on the Electorate of Canaery, so his ascension in the Electorate was viewed with additional legitimacy once the Emperor granted it to him in 1144 upon the conclusion of the war. Niall was the first King-Elector of Urcea, though for the next several hundred years, the Kingdom and the Electorate would be administered as separate realms with a common ruler. After the war, in 1146, the King and Great Landsmeet were at an impasse over expenses incurred as a result of the conflict. King Niall desired to levy a tax to pay back what he owed for large army of mercenaries called upon during the war. As part of the disagreement, the King and Great Landsmeet eventually decided to convene a new body which would be comprised entirely of privilegiata and freemen, known as the "Common Council" - the Concilium Daoni in its earliest form. The Common Council was convened to create independent compromises between the King and Great Landsmeet as a kind of impartial arbitrator between the two, and was comprised of designees from each Estate of the freemen and privilegiata rank. In its earliest form, the total number of representatives from each Estate was inconsistent, ranging from fifteen to forty. The King designated his Royal Treasurer as responsible for organizing meetings of the Common Council, creating the role of "President of the Common Council" that the Procurator still nominally holds today. The new Common Council - the Concilium Daoni - ruled in the King's favor, and the Great Landsmeet begrudgingly agreed to the tax.
Niall's two sons that survived infancy both inherited the Kingdom; the 14-year old Riordan III reigned for a period slightly longer than three months before taking ill and dying, passing the throne to his ten year brother, who was crowned Niall II in 1147. Niall reigned for five and a half years before falling from his horse during training and dying soon after. Niall II's death sparked a succession crisis that resulted in a six year interregnum and succession crisis within the Kingdom, beginning in 1153. During this period, there were several claimants to the Throne, most distant male descendants of King Aedanicus II or female line claimants descended from Niall II, though his daughters were barred from inheritance by Imperial law. Near the end of the Interregnum, Seán Aleckán, one of the most distinguished military leaders in Urcea and in the Empire, announced his claim, having descended directly from St. Julius I in the female line, thus sharing no direct relation with any previous King. The claim was justified partially by the text of the Golden Bull of 1098, in which the Kingdom was entrusted to the "relational descendants of the great Saint, Julius, the Archduke", which the Aleckán faction claimed gave them a better claim as "descendant". Seán Aleckán subsequently received the support of the Emperor, defeating the other claimants, and was crowned King Seán I on January 1st, 1159, beginning the Julio-Aleckán dynasty, which would seat several Kings in the Julian Palace in the next two centuries.
Seán's reign primarily involved solidifying his own position on the Throne, particularly isolating or exiling other potential claimants as well as putting down a revolt of local nobles in the newly acquired Electorate of Canaery, which had been in open revolt during the Interregnum of 1153. His son, Seán II, began Urcea's first forays in foreign affairs, sending small armies to Ixnay to aid in the conflicts of various Catholic powers. Seán II's reign also involved complex long-distance trade missions to Crona, beginning in 1201 and continued by his successors. Seán II's successor Niall III took the Throne in 1202 and was the first of the Kings of Urcea to be elected as Emperor of the Levantines, though Archduke Adrian was elected in 1002 to that position. Niall, who reigned as Emperor Niall I, oversaw a successful campaign to restore the integrity of the Empire, fully utilizing the strength of the Kingdom to disinherit and imprison seditious Imperial vassals, some lands of which were then appropriated to the Kingdom. Emperor Niall I also issued the Golden Bull of 1207, which expanded the Electorate from 9 to 18, adding 9 Bishop-Electors, as a show of magnanimity to the Church. Niall often feuded with the local magnates in the Kingdom and was unpopular among several of the vassals of the Empire, but despite this, the Collegial Electorate announced its intention to elect his son Donnchad to succeed him, recognizing the stabilizing effect Emperor Niall had on the Empire. Upon Niall's death in 1214, his son Donnchad was passed over in favor of a distant descendant of the Julio-Yustona King Aedanicus II named Cónn of Holmfilth, a powerful Count Palatine from the northern heartlands of the Kingdom in the modern province of Westglen. Crowned King Constantine I later in 1214, this succession became the opening events of the multi-generational dynastic Saint's War, which would last nearly 200 years.
Saint's War Period
More Information: Saint's War
The ascension of Constantine to the Throne lead to the relatively non-noteworthy and peaceful rule of the House of Cónn for nearly forty years, primarily remembered for a series of construction programs to build and fortify trading routes and trail throughout the ever expanding Kingdom, including increased legal conformity of the Electorate of Canaery with the rest of the Kingdom, though full legal integration was not achieved for many centuries. The reign of Aedanicus III, called "the mad" in the latter years of his rule due to his increasing senility, came to an end in 1253 after 22 years as Donnchad, the son of King Niall III, returned from exile to claim the Throne. Aedanicus's reign marked the end of the Great Landsmeet, which met for the last time in 1243, though it would not be formally abolished until the 1400s.
Donnchad outmaneuvered the Cónn loyalists that fought on behalf of Aedanicus III, who was physically and mentally unfit to lead his armies. Prince Donnchad seized Urceopolis on July 1st, 1253, being crowned the same day. In an attempt to end the dynastic feud, Donnchad I allowed the senile Aedanicus III to live unmolested in retirement in a small wing of the Julian Palace, where he died without incident in 1257. Aedanicus III's son, the defeated Prince James, saw the new King's act as one of kindness and pledged loyalty to him and disavowed his claim to the Throne. During this period, Donnchad began the Urcean envelopment of the Latinic city-states of Crotona and Tromarine, a process that would not be completed until the mid 17th century. These rich trading cities would strengthen Urcea considerably and give it an important naval foothold in the Odoneru Ocean. Donnchad spent much of his reign campaigning in Crotona and by the end of his life he had managed to subdue most of what is today the province of North Crotona.
The peace was not to last, however; Donnchad was succeeded by his quarrelsome son Riordan IV, who befriended Prince James and relied on Cónn support to defeat his domestic rivals among the nobility, including some Julio-Aleckán loyalists. Riordan's reign was primarily characterized by his attempts to centralize Royal authority and his alliance with the Cónns gave him great utility in this, though he eventually waged civil war as some of the nobles rose up against him in arms. On his death in 1275 due to battle wounds, Riordan IV controversially named the Prince James as his successor, who took the Throne on April 3rd, 1275. The Julio-Aleckán faction - most of whom were already in arms against Riordan - disputed the succession by law, claiming that James was not only ineligible to succeed due to Riordan's brother Niall having a better claim, but also due to his having renounced the Throne during the reign of Donnchad I. James I managed to rally the Royal Army and defeat the Noble forces, who sought a Royal charter of some kind, and managed to secure his place on the Throne for the next 37 years.
James's reign was mostly consumed by an effort to purge, wherever possible, potential Julio-Aleckán claimants and their descendants, though James could not, himself, produce an heir, for which he was the target of both legal alarm and satirical attacks by the Aleckán faction. James's primary accusation by his critics was that he was a closeted atheist anarchist looking to destroy the country by a lack of legal heirs, and that he was potentially a homosexual. Upon James's death without children in 1312, the lead Julio-Aleckán heir, Lucás, the nephew of Riordan IV through his father Niall, defeated Cónn forces outside Urceopolis and was crowned King five days later on February 22nd, 1312 before James I's nephew, also named James, could muster enough forces to push his claim by force. Lucás, the last direct Julio-Aleckán King, reigned for 18 years between 1312 and 1330, a time which was primarily spent fighting a fierce civil war against James Cónn and his allies. Lucás was eventually killed in single combat by James at the Battle of Hollyhead, allowing the latter to be crowned in Urceopolis on January 22nd, 1330, twenty days after the battle. Like James I, James II spent his reign executing a series of bloody purges against the Julio-Aleckán family and their suspected heirs, though he was much more successful than his predecessor. Like his predecessor, however, James II died childless and plunged the Kingdom into the Great Interregnum in 1339, the final phase of the Saint's War. Unlike the inconsistent dynastic feuding that characterized the first 125 years of the conflict, the Great Interregnum brought 63 years of civil war and national division. Not only did the Great Interregnum occur because of the relatively even power bases of the two halves of the Julian dynasty, but also due to succession laws. When there was a crowned Apostolic King of Urcea, the holder of the Julian Crown was legally held to succeed to both the Archduchy of Urceopolis and Grand Duchy of Yustona, effectively overriding local succession laws. With the lack of a consensus King and power evenly divided, however, succession defaulted back to local laws which had not been used since before the Golden Bull of 1098. In the Archduchy, the Archducal title, when no clear heir was available, defaulted to whomever held the headship of the Estate of the Julii, but Yustona instead employed an absolute primogeniture tie based on kinship. With no King, the two titles diverged from another, granting a kind of political and legal legitimacy to the final stage of the Saint's War.
The Great Interregnum saw a general realignment of the political loyalties of the Estates of Urcea. Through most of the Saint's War, Estates were divided internally for either claimant, especially including the Royal Estate of the Julii. The Aleckán dynasty had acquired the title of Custóir from King Seán I in 1159, and despite many attempts, the House of Cónn could not dislodge them from their headship of the Estate even as the Julian Throne alternated between the two houses. The Custóirship of the Julii was a source of great prestige and authority for the Aleckáns, giving them the loyalty of most of the heads of the Estates even if subsidiary families supported the Cónns. With the beginning of the Interregnum, though, many of the Estates came to blame the Aleckáns for the division of the nation. Specifically, the Gaelic Estates began to support the Cónns, which turned the final phase of the Saint's War into a series of battles between Estates. This, paradoxically, had the effect of strengthening the Aleckán cause, as it lead to the slightly more numerous Latinic Estates rallying around the House of Aleckán and contributing manpower and funding not seen up through this point of the conflict.
During the Great Interregnum, the Aleckán faction held the territory of the Archduchy of Urceopolis and other western portions of the Kingdom, though not the city of Urceopolis itself; the burghers and local landed nobility revolted and established the Pope as the temporal ruler of the city and the surrounding areas so as to prevent violence befalling the city as had happened previously during the Saint's War, an arrangement which was said would end upon the final conclusion of the conflict. The Cónn faction ruled over the Grand Duchy of Yustona and the Electorate of Canaery. The House of Cónn established its court north of the Magnag in the newly constructed castle of Ardricampus, which took its name ("King's Fort"), from the period. This castle grew into a major city with the same name, around which developed the modern province of Ardricampus. The Aleckán faction ruled from several castles near Urceopolis, but did not dare attempt to dislodge the Pope from the city. The Imperial Kingdom of Urcea, tied to the Apostolic King of Urcea, remained vacant, though in practice its duties continued to be exercised by a regent directly appointed by the Emperor of the Levantines. Apart from the Saint's War, the fate of the regency during this period was a source of fierce political disagreement between the Emperor and the Pope over who exercised control over Urcea during a crown vacancy, a question that was not clearly solved with the end of the war in the 15th century.
The death of the last direct male Julio-Aleckán heir in battle in 1392 seemed to indicate that the Cónn faction was about to emerge victorious. However, the supporters of the Aleckán cause produced one of their own generals - an indirect heir named Lucás from House de Weluta, who descended from King Lucás I via his daughter. Lucás de Weluta, elevated to the rank of Archduke of Urceopolis and ruling from Castle Welute, continued the fight against the Cónn faction. The de Welutas - also known as the Welutians or the Velucians - originally hailed from the Ionian Highlands and maintained considerable connections there, and as a house they were formed earlier in the century as part of an alliance between King Lucás I and some highland clans. Lucás de Weluta rallied the Aleckán faction and raised a large number of highlanders to his banner, rejuvenating the Aleckán cause. Within a decade, enlisting the support of forces from Angla, Lucás de Weluta eventually issued a final defeat to the Cónn faction at the Battle of Glens Falls in 1401 and subsequent successfully besieged of the Castle of Ardricampus in early August 1402. Facing defeat, the Cónn claimant - the Archduke Aedanicus of Cónn - threw himself from the walls of the fortress, committing suicide. Rather than slaughter the remaining members of the family, Lucás de Weluta married Aedanicus's only daughter Eileen and sent the rest of the family into exile in Angla, where per agreement some of them would marry into the Royal family there. The de Weluta army then marched on Urceopolis, which opened its gates to him, and Lucás was crowned personally by the Pope on September 14 1402, ending the Saint's War and Great Interregnum definitively.
King Lucás II inherited a country torn by decades of division and armed conflict and the inattention clearly showed: the great plains to the east of Urceopolis that once served as the breadbasket of the continent were wastelands and the site of frequent battle, Urcean ports were treated with scorn by traders globally due to the prevalence of conflict-based piracy, and the once mighty road system built by Great Levantia found itself largely destroyed from years of overuse and neglect. Lucás, called the "barracks King" both for his popularity among soldiers but also for his humble roots (relative for a King) prior to taking the Throne, spent a considerable part of his 29-year reign attempting to rebuild the country figuratively and literally. New aqueducts were constructed for the first time in nearly a millennia to irrigate the abandoned fields and support the cities and the King invited great scholars from across Christendom to engage in discussion about what might today be considered a kind of very primitive proto-economics. As part of this effort to solicit advice on how to reconstruct the nation's wartorn economy, the King convened a council of all of the guilds of Urcea, the Gildertach, for the first time in 1407. Serving initially as an advisory board on trade and trade conditions, it has continued to meet intermittently through the present. While contemplating changes to the Kingdom's economy, Lucás II implemented sweeping legal reforms that, among other changes, formally brought about the end of the Great Landsmeet, which had not met since 1243. The King's legal reforms also included streamlining local succession laws, uniting the laws by which the succession of the Archduchy of Urceopolis and Grand Duchy of Yustona functioned, thereby preventing a future occurrence of what occurred during the earlier Great Interregnum. Among the series of economic reforms implemented, King Lucás II most famously intentionally debased the currency to help farmers and merchants cancel debts from the war they couldn't repay. Despite the considerable gamble, records seem to indicate the move worked and the Urcean economy was in considerably better state upon Lucás's death in 1431 than it was when he came to the throne some 29 years earlier.
House de Weluta maintained a fairly robust succession in the 15th century and enjoyed considerable support from the landed gentry, the peasantry, and the clergy as they enthusiastically attempted to mend the wounds of the Saint's War with positive result. By the first year of the reign of King Niall IV (1456-1482), the country's population had recovered to its pre-war levels, and a robust building program began that would continue under the next three de Weluta Kings that would include a new system of roads, cleared trade routes, and a modernized series of defenses and fortresses. King Niall kept the Kingdom mostly out of foreign entanglements in order to facilitate the construction of the wartorn Kingdom, but he did involve himself in the political affairs of the Holy Levantine Empire, the first Apostolic King of Urcea to do so in a meaningful sense since the election of Emperor Niall I in the 13th century. Additionally, King Niall IV inherited the Principality of Halfway after the island's Crusader Princes died out. This was an important step in Urcea's "step into the Odoneru Ocean" that had begun with the conquest of North Crotona in the latter part of the 13th century by King Donnchad I.
The Renaissance would also make its way to Urcea in this time, inaugurating what scholars have called the golden age of Urcean culture, beginning in the 15th century and continuing on through the Baroque period. Niall IV's reign also saw considerable re-involvement in the affairs of the Empire and Urcea's other neighbors, including securing an alliance with the Kings of Angla with the marriage of one of his son's, Julius, to a daughter of the King of Angla, himself a distant Cónn descendant. This alliance would form the cadet branch of Julio-Angloise that would later rise to considerable prominence in Urcea and play a critical role in the history of Urcea and the Holy Levantine Empire.
Despite Niall IV's considerable progeny, his descendants would have problems with inheritance. His successor, Constantine II, died after less than a year on the Throne, passing it to his brother Leo I. Leo would manage just two sons, the eventual King James III and his sickly and weak brother Aedanicus who many scholars believe had considerable developmental disorders but nonetheless was able to reproduce, while James had considerable difficulty doing so.
James III ruled during the initial outbreak of the Protestant Reformation in 1517 and, although he initially expressed interest and toleration, eventually decided to enforce religious unity and ban Protestant proselytism after the Pope promulgated Exsurge Domine in 1520. The Reformation created a relatively small Protestant minority mostly in the peripheries of the country. King James spent the latter twenty years of his long reign (1492-1546) feuding with local lords and the country's neighbors, while breaking the country's alliance with the King of Angla as the latter became Protestant and the subject of an Imperial invasion. James died in April of 1546 without an heir starting a minor interregnum. There was considerable dispute whether or not Aedanicus would or could ascend to the Throne or whether or not some other claimant, like a Catholic descendant of Niall IV or even the Protestant Riordan Julio-Angloise should take his place. Considerable fighting between local factions broke out until Riordan himself seized Urceopolis and the Throne in October of 1546.
Julio-Angloise and War of Religion
Though Riordan V (1546-1557), first King of the House of Julio-Angloise and a Protestant, initially pledged that he would issue an edict of toleration, the Crown soon began to interfere in the functions of the Church and attempted to repossess the monastic lands in the Archduchy of Urceopolis. The Pope fled Urceopolis for Corcra and the persecution of the Church began in 1548, and in response Emperor Conchobar III granted Imperial immediacy to all vassals directly outside the crown lands of Urcea, bringing the so-called Imperial Kingdom to its functional dissolution. Taking this as a sign of approval from the Emperor, a large coalition of Catholic landed optimates rallied together to form the Catholic League and declared their intention to overthrow King Riordan V in favor of Prince Aedanicus, who remained at Castle Welute north of Urceopolis. Although the conflict initially took form as a dynastic dispute, soon sectarian fighting began and each side began wanton atrocities. Many villages and towns founded during the reign of Great Levantia were destroyed and not resettled, providing evidence to archaeologists how the typical Urcean of this time lived. The rebellion grew into the Urcean War of Religion with the Protestant, Royalist forces controlling the Urce River Valley and the Catholic rebels controlling the countryside. Riordan spent most of his reign prosecuting the war, and the Royalist forces experienced a considerable setback at the Battle of Clada in 1554, forcing the King to look to Protestant neighbors and allies such as the Kingdom of Gassavelia for assistance, drawing Urcea into forming the Protestant Union. With the destruction of the Kingdom of Angla earlier that year in the Nordmontaine War, the Union planned to march on Corcra and establish Protestantism as a legal religion in the Empire alongside Catholicism. The Great Confessional War between the Catholic Holy League and the Protestant Union, and the Urcean War of Religion was largely subsumed into the greater conflict.
Riordan V died in 1557 and was succeeded by his Protestant son Donnchad III, who was considered to be an exceptionally more talented commander than his father. Donnchad managed to break a Catholic siege of Urceopolis and maneuvered north to Castle Welute. Rather than besiege the Catholic stronghold, Donnchad raided the fortress and took Prince Aedanicus, the Catholic heir and son of King Leo I, and brought him back to Urceopolis. There, in 1560, he was drawn and quartered and his head was mounted high in the Pale for the city to see, with the remaining parts sent to various rebel leaders; this act was viewed as a severe atrocity by contemporaries and far beyond the honorable conduct of war, leading many moderate optimates in the countryside to abandon the Protestant cause. Next, Donnchad launched a campaign to the southwest to break out of the Urce valley and link up with Protestant forces from the Kingdom of Gassavelia, which he did successfully. By 1562 Donnchad defeated the Holy League at numerous battles in southern Urcea and Gassavelia and the combined forces began to besiege the city of Cana.
Leo de Weluta, eldest son of Prince Aedanicus who had escaped to Corcra in 1560, leading a small force comprised mostly of Catholic troops from Ultmar given to him by the Emperor, launched a surprise attack on the city of Roekdorse in modern North Ionia and took the mostly-Catholic city, overcoming the small Royalist garrison. Soon, Leo began to call upon the avowedly Catholic Ionian Highlanders, who viewed "Auld Royal Leo" as their King, to flock to his banner, which they did. With the victory, the Pope proclaimed in 1563 that Leo was rightful heir to the Kingdom and gave him a Papal grant of the Kingdom stating as much, making Leo the de facto leader of Catholic Urcean forces. Reorganizing the shattered rebel forces and consolidating the Imperial-given forces, the Ionians, and the rebels into a new army, Leo began a march southwest to Urceopolis, besieging Protestant-aligned cities as he made his way down the river valley. The Protestant King Donnchad and his Gassavelian allies had to abandon the siege of Cana and march the two armies northeast. Leo and Donnchad's armies met for the first time in the northeastern plateau and engaged in a series of skirmishes for a year. Donnchad was continuously assured that a Protestant offensive from the Electorates of Lucarnia and Hollona would relieve him and attack the Imperial army from the rear, and continued to draw back his army in a series of bloody retreats in order to draw the Catholic forces in for a fight in which the allied armies would be able to strategically entrap the Imperial army. No reinforcements came, and Donnchad made the decision to continue the retreat on to Urceopolis in an attempt to draw the Catholic army into a siege of the well-defended city and potentially destroy them by sallying the Protestant forces forth. Leo managed to flank Donnchad with a detachment mostly comprised of cavalry and light infantry, positioning troops between Donnchad and Urceopolis, forcing the Protestant armies to stand and fight near Drumfree. At the Battle of Drumfree, which occurred on April 9th, 1565, both sides seemed deadlocked for nearly eight hours of fighting before Donnchad was mortally wounded by a primitive form of grapeshot, leading to the Protestant forces fleeing. Donnchad, abandoned by his troops, was then speared hundreds of times and his mangled corpse thrown into a ditch.
Using his cavalry, Leo trapped and annihilated the Protestant armies the next day, clearing the way for him to Urceopolis. Marching towards the city and then establishing camp outside the city, he felt himself unworthy to enter first, and sent for the Pope. The Pope and Leo entered the city on May 14th, 1565 at which point the Pope crowned Leo as King Leo II, ending the War of Religion and sending the Great Confessional War into its second phase as well as restoring the House de Weluta to the Throne. Following his coronation, the new King sent for the remains of his father and interred them at the royal crypt.
Having defeated the Julio-Angloise and with only a few Protestant partisans left in Urcea, King Leo II now had relatively free reign to prosecute the Great Confessional War on behalf of the Holy League, squarely putting the Protestant Union on the defensive. After defeating a small band of Julio-Angloise rebels south of Cálfeld, Leo marched the Imperial Army south and besieged Rexha by the end of 1565. The well-fortified city held out until 1567 when the Imperial Army successfully breached the walls after an extended cannon barrage. The Kingdom of Gassavelia soon suffered total collapse and Imperial occupation, ending the Southern Levantine theater of the war, with the remaining campaigns being largely siege-based against Protestant cities in northern Latium and Ultmar. King Leo II spent 1568-1570 in Urcea restoring the position of the Church, rebuilding monasteries, restoring icons, and preparing the army for another campaign, which he launched into Latium in 1571. Upon death of the Emperor in 1572, the Electors met and chose Leo as Emperor, putting the entire Holy League army under his command. He spent the next three years prosecuting the war until the Holy League's final victory in 1575, after twenty years of fighting. Leo showed no mercy and expelled all Protestant landholders from the Empire, enforced the legal status of the Catholic Church, enforced several of the doctrines of the Counter-Reformation, redistributed former Protestant lands, and strengthened the Inquisition in Levantia. Urcea, from the conflict, gained considerably; the Kingdom of Gassavelia was partitioned, with the western half of the Kingdom (and its colony of Antilles) being given to Urcea and the remainder becoming part of Faramount. Additionally, Urcea acquired former lands of the Kingdom of Angla which had been assigned to it after the Nordmontaine War but the Julio-Angloise royals refused to accept. Finally, Emperor Leo deprived the formerly Protestant controlled Philaridon Republic of much of its territory and traditional rights. The Republic's existence continued for more than a century, but following the reign of Emperor Leo it was reduced to little more than a city-state client of Urcea. Emperor Leo brought the results of the Great Confessional War to their natural conclusion, prosecuting the Dragonnades which largely left the Holy Levantine Empire uniformly Catholic and left many of the Estates of Urcea in disarray, as more than half of the Custóirs appointed by his predecessor were removed. The Dragonnades helped dramatically increase Royal authority in the realm as huge Protestant landed estates were seized by the Crown. Following the Great Confessional War, the power and expansive lands of the nobility in relation to the King went into terminal decline and by the time of the Red Interregnum, any of the remaining feudal estates were completely wiped away, though their influence and power was only nominal by that point.
Further Information: War of the Caroline Succession
King Leo II reigned until 1597 and spent the remaining 22 years of his life after 1575 fundamentally remaking Urcea, strengthening the Church, and attending to Imperial affairs, particularly the nuances and specifics of the victory terms and the division of land. Leo initiated a series of wide-reaching post-war reforms in which he sought to not only bring to Kingdom together into a cohesive unit, but also planned to undercut the optimate class, who he blamed for the war as well as the Saint's War, and planned to simplify Social class in Urcea. The King reduced the number of classes to three and formally abolished serfdom in Urcea, though the institution had already been rendered mostly nominal due to the devastation of the wars. Part of King Leo's program also included the famous Leonine Land Decree of 1590, which opened lands acquired as part of the Dragonnades to any family in the Archduchy of Urceopolis of privilegiata or freeman rank without considerable land holdings. The Land Decree divided the acquired estates in Gassavelia, and, to a lesser extent, in Ænglasmarch, into 40 acre parcels to be used as smallholds. This created the first wave of Ómestaderoi, and Leo intended for it to strengthen smallholders at the expense of the optimates, which, following several future waves of Ómestaderoi, proved successful. Leo's primary reform, however, was standardizing the legal code throughout nearly all of Urcea at the time, including the final elimination of the separate legal code in Canaery. By bringing the disparate duchies and territories under one standard code, Leo forged the legal nation of Urcea out of the medieval crown confederation of Urcea. With the standard legal code also came the abolition of internal tariffs, bringing about strong economic recovery following decades of war. His legal reforms also stripped the right of heads of the Estates of Urcea to appoint representatives to the Concilium Daoni, and he began the process of creating "districts" for members to represent, though these districts were often coterminous with local communes - which elected members - or with lower vassals, who appointed members to the body. Leo's successors in the 17th century took part in the economic spoils and successively attempted to expand the country's eastern border, with several successful wars bringing neighboring duchies and counties to heel. It was also during this time the Crown began to devise schemes to acquire the Grand Duchy of Carolina, a polity to the north, though such attempts would not come to fruition in the 17th century. The profile of Urcea in the Empire continued to rise under Leo's successors, greatly unified and strengthened by the victory of the War of Religion and with a powerful southern Gassavelia no longer extant to contain Urcea. The 17th Century, besides continuing expansion within the Holy Levantine Empire, was a time of something of a second Renaissance in Urcea as the baroque period took off and the Crown focused on making internal improvements. The Julian Palace was given a minor renovation at this time and the Crown spent lavishly on infrastructure improvements as well as rebuilding several palaces and Churches. The period also saw two "Years of Three Kings" - 1627 and 1656.
During this period, Urcea's attention turned back to the west and south in an effort to capitalize on the very profitable Odoneru Ocean trade. Urcea successfully fought the War of Urlazio and gained a foothold on Urlazio. The war, which took place from 1625 through 1634 and started largely by King Aedanicus V, was aimed at curbing the influence of Caphiria and prevent possible expansion into Levantia. Though successful, the Urcean march on Urlazio lead to hundreds of years of animosity with Caphiria that weren't truly resolved until the return of its Urlazio territory at the Assumption Accords. In order to link its dominions together, Urcea completed the envelopment of Crotona in 1660 during the reign of King Riordan VI, creating the Kingdom of Crotona. In 1670, Riordan began the conquest of Tromarine, but it would not be completed until the reign of his successor, King Patrick I, who put the finishing touches on conquering the island in 1676. Patrick completed the envelopment of the southern Odoneru by formally annexing the Philaridon Republic in 1680, though the Republic had largely been reduced to the position of a vassal a century earlier.
In 1702, King Riordan VII was elected Emperor Riordan I, beginning a string of five consecutive Kings who would be elected Emperor and also an increasing focus on the affairs of the Empire, which would dominate the country's foreign policy in the 18th century. Riordan's son, King Aedanicus VII, was also elected Emperor and ruled both the Empire and Urcea from 1727 to 1741. During his reign, he induced the Collegial Electorate to designate his son, Prince of Halfway Leo, as King of the Levantines, heir apparent to the Empire. During the successive reigns of Riordan and Aedanicus, relative stability was introduced to the Empire, although Electors continually grumbled Urceopolis grew more powerful vis a vis the other Imperial princes with each succeeding decade. Riordan in particular focused on increasing the professionalization and training of the Royal Army, and his investment paid dividends as Urcean forces developed innovative drill and discipline techniques. Alongside the widespread adoption of the socket bayonet in the last years of Aedanicus's reign, the Royal Army of Urcea was considered highly professional even if small relative to the Kingdom's overall population.
With the death of Emperor-King Aedanicus VII, the Collegial Electorate abrogated its earlier selection and instead elected Louis, the Grand Duke of Verecundia. Newly-minted King Leo IV initially accepted the decision, but the newly-elected Emperor Louis IX began a policy of open antagonism with regards to Urcean ambition. In 1743, the last male-line Grand Duke of Carolina died and left King Leo as his heir. Despite this, Emperor Louis IX exercised his Imperial prerogative and issued a Pragmatic Sanction, denying the Urcean inheritance. King Leo would not accept another breach of faith from the Empire, and on July 4th, 1745, the Royal Army of Urcea crossed through the Northgate and invaded Carolina. The Emperor declared King Leo an outlaw and called the Empire to arms against him, beginning the War of the Caroline Succession, also known as the First Caroline War.
The invasion of Carolina was completed without much resistance by the end of the summer of 1745; many cities opened their gates and fortresses to King Leo's forces, recognizing the legitimacy of his claim. Leo and the Royal Army would winter in Carolina before invading the Kingdom of Latium in 1746, defeating the Imperial Army at the Battle of Mt. Cara that August. The Royal Army would fight to a draw in 1747, but in 1748 King Leo would lead his armies on a pillage and sack of the Grand Duchy of Verecundia, the Emperor's home. Following a few close defeats in which Leo was able to retreat in good order to begin 1749, he met the Imperial Army near the Abbey of St. John, some twenty five miles outside of the Imperial Capital of Corcra. The Urcean 48,500 - lead by the elite shock corps, the Royal Fusiliers - totally annihilated the Imperial Army at the Battle of St. John's. The road to Corcra lay open, and King Leo took the city in April of 1746. The Emperor and his largest allies in the Empire surrendered, and King Leo accepted Emperor Louis's abdication on May 1st. The Grand Duchy of Verecundia was dissolved into its constituent parts, and King Leo assumed the Imperial throne on May 3rd. As part of the terms of peace at the Treaty of Martinsburg, the Grand Duchy of Carolina was recognized as an integral part of the Urcean Crown. More shockingly, now-Emperor Leo demanded the concession of guaranteed hereditary succession of the Holy Levantine Empire, which the Imperial Diet had no choice but to accept. The decades of hereditary rule, and the attempted centralization of the Holy Levantine Empire, had begun.
During the war, King Leo required huge sums of Talers in order to keep the army on its feet, and while on campaign he asked the Concilium Daoni to raise taxes. The Daoni agreed to do so in exchange for concessions in the form of general consent of the Daoni for Royal appointments to the Concilium Purpaidá, the ministry. The Daoni also asked as part of concessions that the King's judicial appointments had to be confirmed by the Purpaidá, and further that all districts of the Daoni be elective rather than the mixed elective-appointive system. This latter proposal was offered as not only a demand of the Daoni but as an offering of benefit to the King, as it allowed him to take the final steps in destroying the power of landed vassals. King Leo received these demands in 1747 after several inconclusive battles that pointed to a long, expensive war. In absentia, he agreed to the concessions. This agreement, called the Concession of 1747, was among the first major developments towards the modern Constitution of Urcea, and following the war Emperor Leo agreed to permanently uphold this concession.
Imperial Rule and Beginning of Industrial Revolution
Further Information: Second Caroline War
During the period of the Urcean Crown's ascent to Imperial dominance, important changes were occurring in the country and in Levantia in general. In the period 1730-1765, devices such as the flying shuttle, spinning frame, and the spinning jenny were invented in the Imperial heartland. With increasing mechanization bleeding into other sectors and a greater ability to refine cast iron, the early stage of the Industrial Revolution had begun in Levantia. King-Emperor Leo (to 1768), and his son Brian (reigned 1768-1781), largely allowed the economy to progress without intervention.
The period of the reign of Leo IV - who had now taken on the slightly pejorative title "Levanticus" following his victory in the Caroline War - saw one of attempted centralization and reform of the Holy Levantine Empire. Although historians of the Empire have noted many of these reforms were needed - such as changing the structure of the Imperial Diet to reflect the current makeup of the Empire, reorganization of the Imperial Army, and introduction of a common import tariff throughout the entire Empire to fund Imperial projects - they were extremely unpopular among the Princes of the Empire, who almost immediately began to chafe under increased rule from Urceopolis. It was during this time that the general quality of the Royal Army began to decrease as a natural consequence of complacency, considering that the Apostolic King had the resources of the Holy Levantine Empire, including the Imperial Army, to dispose with. Some would-be reformers, such as Lecáti James Lavofual who is perhaps better known for his work as an artist, decried the state of the army and implored King Leo IV and his successors for reform minded leaders to take control of the military, but these requests were rejected.
It was also during this period that the role of the Procurator became more pronounced, as the Imperial Kings found themselves needing to delegate more and more power to their chief steward given the need to focus on Empire-wide affairs. With the King often away in Corcra to handle that kind of Imperial business, the regency powers of the Procurator naturally evolved into a national leadership role. Though previously Chief Steward and First Lord of the Treasury, the Procurator often served in an advisory role and merely a representative of the King at the Concilium Daoni, but real decisions were beginning to be made by the Procurator at the Purpaidá level. Another major Constitutional development came in 1759 when a Count in the Ionian highlands wrote the King, sitting in Corcra at the time, asking for a recent policy of road construction set in motion by the Procurator reversed. King Leo wrote back, upholding the Procurator's decision, and sent a copy of the letter to Urceopolis. The so-called "Botharvia Letter" legally confirmed some of the Procurator's executive authority, an important step towards the current authority of the office.
In 1780, Emperor Brian VII intervened in the Veltorine War of Independence, a war that saw the Royal and Imperial Army fight on Sarpedon for the first time against Caphiria. The war concluded under Brian's successor, Emperor Lucás III, and in 1782 the Urcean Crown received Dorhaven as compensation for their aid to Veltorina. The Kingdom of Dorhaven was established that year as a holding of the de Weluta family outside the jurisdiction of the Empire.
Centralization continued without incident until the death of childless death Emperor-King Brian II in 1781 at the age of 37. His brother, 34-year old, King Lucás III, ascended that same year. Traditional historiography typically depicted Lucás as a petty tyrant who abused the rights of the Princes of the Empire, but modern historians tend to view this depiction more critically. The Holy Levantine Empire had been under hereditary rule for approximately thirty years, and the destabilization presented by the relatively young death of a King presented opportunities for Imperial Princes to try and "cause trouble" in an effort to break free of the "Urcean yoke". Modern historiography has revised the depiction of Lucás III as something of a well-meaning reformer who wanted to continue the path of his predecessors but was mostly unable, both due to his own personal failings but also decades of built up animosity on the part of the Princes of the Empire. Histories of the Holy Levantine Empire tend to refer to King Lucás III as Emperor Lucius III as a latinization of Lucás, descended from and related to the Urcean name Luciás. Lucius and Lucás are sometimes confused, but they were the same ruler. His distant descendant, King Lucás IV, also nominally ruled the Empire as Lucius IV in the 20th century.
The first decade of Lucás's reign proceeded mostly without incident, but under the surface several Princes were conspiring. The Duke of Upper Verecundia, son of the Emperor who was defeated in the War of the Caroline Succession was revealed in 1794 to be part of the so-called "Red Emperor" Plot, a conspiracy to potentially assassinate the Emperor in conjunction with a mass uprising of the Princes. King Lucás's forces easily overcame Upper Verecundia's small forces and took the Duke into custody. While imprisoned, several other conspiracies began to grow throughout the Empire, particularly in the Kingdom of Latium. The question of what to do with the Duke of Upper Veredunia became a major political issue in both Urceopolis and in Corcra, but in early 1796, after waffling indecisively for two years, Emperor Lucás decided to sentence the Duke to death for treason. The decision to sentence the Duke to death for treason, rather than the conspiracy itself, lead to widespread outrage within the Empire and, in conjunction with three decades of de Weluta primogeniture, proved to most the "despotic" nature of the Urcean Crown. The Princes and Estates of the Kingdom of Latium declared themselves in rebellion by June of 1796, joined later in the year by most of the other princes in the Empire, beginning what was later known as the Second Caroline War.
Following a disastrous 1797 campaign season in which the Royal and Imperial Army was badly beaten and ejected from Latium altogether - including a popular uprising in Corcra that ejected Lucás's forces, 1798 saw most of the fighting occur in Aenglasmarch and in Carolina. Beginning in 1798, several of the Dukes of Aenglasmarch - nominally direct vassals of the Apostolic King of Urcea rather than of the Emperor - waged an uprising that allowed for easier access for rebel forces into Carolina. The fighting concluded for the year with a standstill, though King Lucás contracted pneumonia while wintering in Carolina and died on December 19th, 1798. His son, the new King Brian III, assumed control of the army in the week following, but decided to call for a ceasefire. His rationale has been hotly debated by historians, but his letters seem to indicate he thought he could diplomatically end the war by portraying it as a conflict between the Princes and his father. Critically, King Brian also decided that he would not assume his father's Imperial title until peace was achieved. These decisions proved mistakes as the time allowed the members of the former Collegial Electorate to once again gather in Corcra and elect a rival Emperor, and Brian's decision to not assume the title undermined his legitimacy. While wintering in 1798-99, large defections of Imperial troops left the Royal Army at a disadvantage relative to their opponents.
The death of Emperor-King Lucás brought to an end what many historians considered the "Urcean Golden Age", a period of dominance in the Holy Levantine Empire combined with territorial growth that left Levantia a nearly uni-polar continent. In the 226 years since the election of Emperor Leo III of the Holy Levantine Empire in 1572, de Welutas had sat on the Imperial Throne for 121 years, more than half of the time. Urcea had grown by nearly half through its acquisitions of Carolina, Gassavelia, and elsewhere. The Golden Age marked a renewed alignment of the interests of Urcea and the Empire as a whole; with its closure, Urcea would come to adopt an openly antagonistic attitude towards the institutions of the Empire, an attitude it would maintain for nearly a century and a half. Without the economic, diplomatic, and military support of the Urcean Crown during this crucial period, the Holy Levantine Empire entered a slow, but terminal, decline.
See Also: Recess of the Julii
Undeterred by the Princes of the Holy Levantine Empire taking advantage of him and despite his reduced force presence, King Brian III continued to prosecute the war in an effort to regain the Imperial Throne and restore order in the Empire. The Princes sued for peace following the election of 1799 on the terms of Brian merely accepting the election, but this time he turned the offer down. Fighting continued in the Second Caroline War at mostly a draw until 1802, where the Royal Army was ejected from Carolina following its defeat at the Battle of Durham in June. The King positioned his forces in a defensive position at the Northgate and tried to sue for peace under the same terms, but now the Empire demanded separation of the Grand Duchy of Carolina from Urcea, which was rejected. Imperial forces were unable to break through the Northgate until October of 1803, when a small force of Burgoignesc landed on the Odoneru coast south of the Northgate and advanced on the Royal Army from behind in a coordinated attack with the Imperial Army. The Royal Army disintegrated at the Battle of the Northgate and King Brian was forced to flee to Urceopolis in disguise. The door was now open for the Imperial Army to sack much of the Urcean heartland, but it decided to take preparations the Northgate to prevent a counterattack on Carolina before marching. The Imperial Army's command began to discuss the possibility of partitioning Aenglasmarch, Gassavelia, and, critically, the Electorate of Canaery and its neighboring duchies from the Urcean Crown.
In an event that would become legendary, the 22-year old Prince of Halfway, Niall, snuck out of Urceopolis on November 24th under the cover of night after having being forbidden to do so by his father, and rode from Urceopolis to the famously loyal Ionian Highlands alone on horseback. According to legend - and some scholars who have analyzed subsequent orders of battle have attested that it is plausible - the Prince was caught up to by a cohort of the Household Life Guard, sent to detain him and escort him back to the Julian Palace. The Prince not only convinced them to allow him to proceed, but according to the legend the Cohort joined his party en route to the Highlands. Upon arrival, in a personal appeal not unlike that of his ancestor, Emperor Leo III of the Holy Levantine Empire, Niall raised the clans of the Highlands and launched a guerrilla campaign in order to harass and impede the advance of the Imperial Army. The Highlanders lost every actual field battle they were forced to fight, but Niall's legend grew as he personally lead his men in the field and, unlike his father, never fled before his force retreated in good order. It was during this time that he acquired the nickname he would bear for the rest of his life, even after his accession to King - "The Black Prince", due to the Highlanders' frequency of night raids and strikes. The Imperial Army spent much of 1804 chasing Niall across the Ionian Highlands, never safe enough to advance on Urceopolis. The Prince also famously crossed the Ionian mountains and raised Ómestaderoi militia and raiders, striking at Imperial camps in Carolina, previously thought safe. Despite his triumphs in every battle fought so far, Emperor Mauricio I could neither pin down the prince nor conclusively determine how many soldiers were in the field against him, buying the Kingdom vital time.
By the time of the 1805 campaign season, King Brian had raised enough men to reforge the Royal Army, although he agreed to another concession to the Concilium Daoni in order to raise the funds to pay for it. He agreed to the demand that a Chancellor of the Royal Treasury, a vicar of the Procurator, be created and that the Daoni had the power to appoint one. He also agreed to the demand that a formal vote of approval had to be taken by the Daoni in order to approve the King's appointments to the Concilium Purpaidá - the Concession of 1747 only required a "general consensus of approval". With another important development in the Constitution of Urcea, King Brian departed Urceopolis, marching north, and, combined with his son's forces he defeated the beleaguered Imperial Army at the Battle of Tarrin in May 1805, sending the Imperial Army back north of the Northgate. A subsequent victory occurred in Aenglasmarch the same month, where the civil conflict between pro- and anti- Urcean nobles which began in 1798 was ended by a combination of Ómestaderoi militia from Carolina and local pro-Velucian Dukes, who won a decisive battle not far from Holchester. King Brian's forces were unable to cross the Northgate themselves, but the Imperial Army and Emperor saw that their supply lines across Aenglasmarch were now cut, and subsequently sued for peace under the terms offered in 1802 - namely, the surrender of the Grand Duchy of Carolina, which would be garrisoned by the Imperial Army from that point onward. The King begrudgingly agreed and spent the rest of his life cursing the decision, growing extremely obese and unable. The Black Prince, meanwhile, grew in popularity and became something of a Prince of the people before the King sent him away to study in Béyasar, where he encountered students of the Kilikas Enlightenment. Though he rejected much of what he deemed their "excesses", Prince Niall learned many useful ideas for reform there before being recalled to Urceopolis in 1809 - his father had died, and he was to be crowned King.
King Niall V sought to combine his experience during the war with his education to bring about a fundamental change in the way Urcea was governed and fought its wars. Niall sought to prevent Urcea from ever losing in a manner similar to the Second Caroline War again, but more aptly noted that Urcea had a far greater population than the Kingdom of Latium but continually found itself at numerical disadvantages in wars with its neighbors. King Niall's reign - a key part of the so-called Reform Era - emphasized the realization that Urcea, if it engaged the collective will and resources of its entire population, the Apostolic Kingdom could dominate much of Levantia without any real competition. To this end, Niall's reign focused on a three-pronged approach: the first of which was administrative reforms aimed at creating a levée en masse, which included the first formal Kingdom-wide census in 1810; the second of which involved political liberalization aimed at increasing national "buy-in" and engagement for the Kingdom's policy decisionmaking, and; the third of which involved reforms implementing a basic national education as well as a publicly subsidized nationalistic art program, which included the adoption of a new national flag in 1830. The key plank of the second reform included the issuance of the Great Bull of 1811, which guaranteed certain civil liberties and political rights. To this day the Great Bull is widely known as "Urcea's Bill of Rights", and played yet another key step in the development of the Constitution of Urcea. The third reform brought about the first organized national propaganda effort in Urcea and likely in Levantia. As part of that program, many drew parallels between King Niall and Saint Julius I, who utilized the large numbers of Latino-Gaels and Gaelic people to field armies capable of defeating Gallawa. Besides the favorable comparison to the national founding father, this comparison also drew links between Gallawa and the present Holy Levantine Empire, both as enemies of the Urcean people.
It was at this time, and partly due to the propaganda and education efforts, that Urcea's neighbors in the Holy Levantine Empire as well as the Empire in general were portrayed to the people as a "foreign master" of Urcea and its subjects, and that the "Black Prince" fought for national liberation and national defense during the Second Caroline War. The relationship between the Empire and Urcea grew increasingly antagonistic in this context beginning a period that would become known by historians as the Recess of the Julii. The Empire began to use the Imperial Inquisition for political reprisals in Urcea after the end of the war, leading to increasing disillusion with the Inquisition by the King and Government of Urcea. In 1815, King Niall V obtained permission from Pope Pius VII to banish the Inquisition from Urcea, and in its place he created the office of Censor. The Emperor of the Levantines, Mauricio I, suffered a major loss of face after opting not to prosecute a war against Urcea for what was considered an illegal act under the law of the Holy Levantine Empire. Niall's governmental reforms also included the empowerment of the Gildertach, giving them fuller oversight of trade negotiations and agreements. Niall's reform of the Gildertach was the last major one done to the institution, though a formalization of its powers over trade gradually came to be understood during the reign of King Aedanicus VIII later in the 19th century.
King Niall's reign, which concluded in 1837, mostly achieved all three reforms. In 1827, he reached another settlement with the Concilium Daoni in which the King's nomination for Procurator had to be approved by majority vote of the Daoni, increasing their standing further as a national legislature. By 1835, the Royal Army - reformed into a permanent, standing army - was the largest in Levantia. Urcea's enemies - viewed by the Urcean people as the Holy Levantine Empire - were in decline. King Niall V died in 1837, but left to his son and successors the tools of a politically engaged and militarily powerful nation - tools that were aimed to be used in Carolina as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
The rejuvenation of the Kingdom's fortunes under the reign of Niall and his grandson precipitated a rejuvenation of the national spirit as well, and the nation fully embraced the Romantic movement by the 1820s. Part of the Romantic movement in Urcea centered around the notion of reclaiming the identity and greatness of Great Levantia as opposed to the historical influences of the Holy Levantine Empire, which Urceans sought to distance themselves from as part of the Recess of the Julii. A major expression of this budding cultural renaissance was the Tria nomina movement, which sought to restore Levantine-style naming conventions. The movement reached its height in 1858 as Niall's grandson, King Aedancius, convened all of the Estates of Urcea and established the Tria nomina as the naming method of the estates, and he personally adopted the naming style as well for House de Weluta. The naming movement would continue to prosper until the late 1880s.
Carolina and the "Aedanicad"
Niall's immediate successor was his often-sickly 37-year old son, Patrick II, whose tumultuous and short reign required long periods of regency before ultimately succumbing to illness and dying in 1841. Patrick's 19-year old son, now King Aedanicus VIII, would rule for a momentous five decades, defining the period of Urcean history known popularly as the "Aedanicad". While the King would become accustomed to political maneuvering as he grew older, a great deal of power devolved to the Concilium Purpaidá and Concilium Daoni during his early reign, as the King deliberately delegated authority to the Councils. King Aedanicus was not, however, totally uninterested in governing; he continued his grandfather's reforms to the Royal Army in preparation for a potential war in Carolina, not only to reclaim national honor but also to build a northern canal to the Vandarch which might solidify the Urce River as a major international waterway. King Aedanicus, in consultation with the councils, declared war on the Grand Duchy of Carolina on April 13th, 1843, beginning the Third Caroline War. Not unlike the War of the Caroline Succession, most of the forces arrayed against Urcea were from the Kingdom of Latium, as the Deric Princes once again banded together in order to fend off Urcean aggression. Unlike those previous wars, King Aedanicus VIII used the reforms of his predecessors to begin mass levying as part of what was framed as a "great patriotic effort" of "national unification". While the Royal Army began to mass huge numbers of forces, the standing core of the Royal Army crossed into Carolina and, like in the First Caroline War, quickly enveloped the Grand Duchy with the help of descendants of the Ómestaderoi, which capitulated on July 9th, 1843, and was annexed into the Apostolic Kingdom the next day. The remainder of the nearly-five year conflict would see Urcean forces invade and eventually overwhelm the Kingdom of Latium, dealing another critical blow to the stability of the Holy Levantine Empire and creating significant enmity between Urceans and Derics as forces of the Royal Army burnt Corcra to the ground, only leaving the grand Imperial Palace complex left standing, albeit looted. Throughout the war, the Royal Army made grueling but ultimately victorious progress as hundreds of thousands of Urceans fanned out throughout Latium, overwhelming many of the local principalities.
During the war, important changes occurred to the growing Constitution of Urcea. As a consequence of the continued financial support for fielding very large armies in Latium, King Aedanicus VIII offered a major concession to the Concilium Daoni - namely, that it be possible for the Chancellor of the Royal Treasury to be a sitting Delegate of the Concilium Daoni. Following this concession in 1845, the very first Chancellor and Temporary President was elected in the Daoni from the National Pact by merging the two most important offices a Delegate could hold, creating the modern office of the Urcean premiership. Following decades of demands and with many hundreds of thousands of men in the field, King Aedanicus finally conceded to universal male suffrage for Delegate elections in 1846.
The war ended in 1848 with Urcea emerging totally victorious and the Grand Duchy of Carolina permanently connected to the Urcean crown in addition to the annexation of Eastvale, which completed an eastern riverine border running from Gassavelia to the Ænglish duchies. The withdrawing Urcean Royal Army lead to nationalistic uprisings beginning in Latium as civil authority in the area was temporarily absent. The defeat of the Kingdom of Latium lead to the rise of Derian nationalism, and Derian nationalists attempted to oust the various princes in Latium and unite into a single Deric state, one that could stand on its own against Urcea. The subsequent unrest - and question over whether or not Bergendii or other people had a place in the Deric state - lead to the First Fratricide. For his victory, after the Great Landsmeet a decade later, as part of the tria nomina system he enacted, King Aedanicus VIII adopted the agnomen Carolinicus at the opening ceremony of the Caroline Arch. As the vast Royal Army returned home to vote for the first time in the 1850 election, a more radical new generation of National Pact Delegates swept into office, inaugurating a period of more aggressive reforms to the Urcean state and a period of feuding between King Aedanicus and the Concilium Daoni. It was during this period that the office of Procurator returned to a period of greater prominence and was politicized for the first time, as the King appointed Delegates as Procurator in order to grasp the upper hand for control of the Royal Treasury with the Chancellor. While it was never prohibited, the precedent of Delegates serving as Procurator established another Constitutional precedent that would later allow the Chancellor and Temporary President to simultaneously serve as Procurator, accumulating a wide array of powers over the Urcean state. Aedanicus would also concede, in the 1860s, the power for the Chancellor to choose members of the Purpaidá via constitutional advice to the King. Aedanicus's reign continued for several decades, but the increasing reform of the military lead to increasing political power of the armed forces. The regime's continued reforms and the nation's prosperity lead to stability for the Crown, but the relative power of the Armed Forces became a major political issue in the public and in the Concilium Daoni during the 1870s. Increasingly, the Royal Army was becoming an attractive destination for members of the privilegiata class, and the army became a hotbed of reform-minded politics as the 19th century progressed. During the period, and in the 1870s in particular, the National Pact, sometimes referred to as the Party of Order, was the dominant political organization in Urcea. It controlled wide majorities in the Daoni during this period and faced very little organized opposition besides the nascent power of the Armed Forces. Due to the success of Crown Liberalism during the period, the National Pact considered the Government of Urcea its own "property", in the sense that they had secured hard fought reforms towards a liberalized Constitution of Urcea and they were willing to fight to defend it. This set the stage for conflict between the National Pact and the armed forces at the end of the century.
In the 1850s, following the end of the war in Carolina, Aedanicus set his eyes on western Crona; he was the first Apostolic King of Urcea to do so. Since the middle of the 17th century, the Levantine powers - Urcea included - held various trade rights throughout northwestern Crona around the Sea of Nysdra, especially within Quetzenkel. The nascent states of Burgundie held trade investments and colonial interests - even in its early state - in Crona, Punth, and Audonia, and King Aedanicus believed Urcea's next project should be a demonstration of its power abroad. While the Royal Navy was mostly inadequate in comparison to other Occidental powers, it would be suitable enough to bring diplomats and soldiers to Crona. Power projection was not Aedanicus's only goal, however; in an effort to strengthen army recruiting, the King had promised land to veterans of the Third Caroline War, and territory in the Carolinas had long since been taken. The Urcean territory in Crona would be a settler colony rather than a mere exploitative one. Based out of trading centers in Quetzenkel, Urcean officials began to search the neighboring regions for a suitable territory to acquire via negotiation if possible. In 1857, a suitor was found; the Northern Confederation tribe of the Schoharie was willing to sell land in its southernmost tip, which was primarily swampy and unusable to the locals. Urcea purchased the land for 4 million talers, and King Aedanicus formally proclaimed the Colony of New Yustona the next year, as veterans and others willing to try their luck began settling the land in 1859. New Yustona was not Aedanicus's only foreign acquisition, however. While negotiations were ongoing to acquire the land for the Colony of New Yustona, Urcea sought to acquire another island in the Sea of Canete as King Aedanicus aimed to create a network of possessions and clients among the Istroya. Consequently, the Apostolic Kingdom waged a war with the relatively small Istroyan island of Nolis under the pretext of imprisonment of Urcean nationals. The war lasted from 1859-1860, as Urcea's outdated navy experienced considerable issues transporting to and from the island, but the veteran Royal Army and the Royal Marines managed to subdue the island. The Rectory of Nolis was established in 1860 as limited Urcean settlement was joined by considerable Urcean investment in the island.
Aedanicus's reign was characterized by a cultural renaissance in Urcea. A spirit of national renewal had been on the rise since the end of the Second Caroline War during the reign of King Niall, as the reform efforts successfully created a sense of national consciousness. This sense of consciousness exploded after the Third Caroline War, and Romantic nationalism swept the nation, though, unlike in other countries, in induced adoration and praise for King Aedanicus and his predecessor King Niall for their wisdom and strength in leading the country. Though many historians have dismissed Aedanicus's reign as overrated and the praise he received by contemporaries unwarranted, especially considering the reduction of prerogatives of the Apostolic King of Urcea during his reign, 21st century historians have given Aedanicus praise for his full embrasure of the cultural revival in the country at the time. Besides commissioning public arts programs, Aedanicus fully engorged himself in everything the Romantic movement had to offer. Famously, the King convened a Great Landsmeet in 1858 - an ancient Urcean institution not seen since the 13th century - to adopt the Tria nomina system, which recalled ancient Levantine naming systems. The King also involved himself heavily in the appearance of the nation, introducing landscape architecture to the country, which would lay the groundwork for the success of the city beautiful movement in Urcea following the restoration in the early 20th century. His building program included construction of the Caroline Arch, celebrating the Kingdom's victory in the Third Caroline War. Most famously, the King connected several disparate parks - including the Royal Gardens outside the Julian Palace built in the Imperial era - into a massive park known as the Royal Green, which stretched across the entirety of the Pale. Following up on the construction of the new park, the King began a massive renovation of the Julian Palace in 1861. The project, mostly an entire reconstruction of the building, which had been last altered in the 14th century, brought its current Gothic revival form into being. During this time, the King also completed a renovation of The Praetorium, the government hub for both Urceopolis and the Archduchy of Urceopolis. All three projects were complete in time for the 1869-70 International Exposition, when the palace was opened to international visitors for the first six months of the Exposition. The King also ordered the removal of several layers of outer defenses of the then-neglected Castle Welute, including the crumbling outer walls. The King also introduced planned revitalization of the Castle complex, though it was not carried out until the restoration of his son, King Patrick III. Another major project of the King's was the construction of the Carolina-Grand Canal, beginning in 1865 and completed in 1880. The Canal was the first access point to the Vandarch from the Urce River, and the project helped Urceopolis continue its ascent as a major world economic capital. The canal's 15-year construction would later cause significant problems for the government, as the cost of construction played a role in the large debts incurred by Urcea by the 1880s.
Like many of his predecessors, Aedanicus was also concerned with legal reform and efforts to centralize in order to better utilize the Kingdom's extensive resources. The dukes and counts in the former territories of Angla and Gassavelia had retained their privileges and autonomy in part as a way to ensure their loyalty and keep their territories tied to Urcea, an expedient that was no longer viewed as necessary due to the power demonstrated by Urcea in the Third Caroline War. It was also unclear whether or not these territories were formally included within the Crown of Urcea or were merely part of the Imperial Kingdom of Urcea. Aedanicus's chief constitutional goal of his reign was to bring uniformity of royal power to the entire realm including these "ethnic" outlier territories acquired during the Great Confessional War, and most Urceans viewed the "feudal" authority of local nobility to be an anachronism in the otherwise modernizing reigns of Niall and Aedanicus. During the latter's reign, the Concilium Daoni passed several initiatives supported by the King to reduce the autonomy of the nobles. Chief among these was the repeal of the right to appeal to the Emperor of the Levantines in 1854, essentially tying them to the Crown and subsuming them into Crown law as adopted by the King and Councils. This action provoked considerable unrest both in the territories themselves and in the Holy Levantine Empire; the Imperial Diet condemned the action as illegal. Nevertheless, Royal tax collectors and members of the Royal Army began to flood into the territories in 1855 followed by "policy advisors" to the dukes and counts the next year. While it would take the Regency period to fully curb the influence of the local nobility, Aedanicus had laid the first steps for doing so and was content for the remainder of his reign in the authority he held in former Angla and Gassavelia.
Aedanicus and his grandfather Niall had successfully rebuilt the Royal Army leading to its decisive success in the Third Caroline War, but during the period the Royal Navy had been seriously neglected, and by the 1860s the fleet was primarily comprised of wooden sailing ships and some steamers built during King Niall's reign. The shortfalls of the Royal Navy were on display while Urcea worked to acquire New Yustona and Nolis, both of which were accompanied by serious logistical problems due to non-steam powered travel time and ship reliability. Aedanicus began a large overhaul of the navy during this period, intending to construct more than a hundred armored cruisers. The navy revitalization effort lead to a large shipbuilding boom, with new firms such as the Royal Sealift Company being founded to handle the increased demand. The navy was all-ironclad by the early 1870s, and the Urcean navy was, for the time, relatively advanced and powerful. The navy added several protected cruisers in the mid-1880s, but the cost of the naval overhaul was mounting and the various political instabilities that characterized the 1880s lead to the cancellation of further naval development just prior to the election of 1885, though the economic shipbuilding boom had ended by the mid-1870s leading to a market consolidation of shipbuilding contracts. Consequently, when Urcea's navy would next go to war in the Red Interregnum in the late 1890s and early 1900s, most of its ships were already in use for three decades and were considered mostly obsolete. Aedanicus's interest in naval affairs would be inherited by his son, however, who would prosecute a similar period of buildup during his own reign. Urcea attempted to expand its New Yustona colony in 1881 using the power of its navy; while efforts to subdue the Northern Confederation's coasts were entirely successful, the interior of the Confederation held out and the Royal Army's expeditionary force failed to make meaningful progress. The colony was ceded territory in the ensuing peace, but the small gains from an expensive war were a bitter disappointment for the increasingly divided Urcean government.
The King's reforms also included changes to the Gildertach, a process began by his grandfather. In 1848, Aedanicus formalized many of the changes made by King Niall V by consolidating them - and other statutes - into the Guild Law, which only the Gildertach could amend. The Guild Law set the number and scope of the guilds, how the Gildertach was governed, and set forth the responsibilities and limitations of the power of the Gildertach. The institution was now also required to meet at least five times a year as opposed to the requirement of five times per decade as mandated in the 17th century. Consequently, the Gildertach found itself without a permanent home, sometimes meeting in the Julian Palace when the Concilium Daoni was out of session, sometimes meeting in the Praetorium, but most commonly meeting in the Hermitage in the Grand Duchy of Yustona, far from Urceopolis. As part of his large construction effort, King Aedanicus VIII began construction on the Guilder Palace to permanently house the Gildertach, and it was completed in 1857.
During the 1880s, King Aedanicus, now in his 60s, was struggling with various illnesses and would be known to have long lapses of reason and consciousness. Beginning a tradition that remains through the present, the King decided to relocate to Castle Welute to take in the "country airs" and to escape the looming political chaos in Urceopolis. The Election of 1885 threw the government into chaos, as dissenting factions within the National Pact could not agree on a leader. King Aedanicus opted to appoint a leading General, Gréagóir FitzRex, as Procurator in an attempt to co-opt the military and restoring order in the government. FitzRex received a very narrow approval from the Concilium Daoni and began to exercise increasing control over the government, appointing his own members to the Purpaidá despite that being under the Chancellor's purview. Despite the military's nascent political power, it was not immune from the growing sense of decay at the end of the long Aedanicad that struck every other part of the country and society. While the navy was falling behind technologically, the Royal Army became imbued in a scandal known as the Eight Rifle Affair, in which the Army ordered 8 different standardized rifle designs between 1880 and 1887, using most of them for a year or less. The Eight Rifle Affair was extremely costly to the already-tight government budget, leading to a near-discrediting of the army and a hope for FitzRex's opposition. Army leadership eventually decided to license a foreign design from Veltorina. The adoption of the this semi-successful licensed rifle - dubbed the SRM-8 - brought the affair to an end in 1887, finally giving the Royal Army a standardized bolt-action rifle for use for the next decade and a half.
Now empowered, Procurator FitzRex convinced the elderly King to grant him the previously Royal title of Magister Militum, granting FitzRex total control over the armed forces, subsequently inducing the Daoni to vote the powerless title Commander-in-Chief to the King instead. The Daoni remained without a Chancellor and Temporary President for the remainder of the 1886-1890 term, and Procurator FitzRex used this to push through a series of aggressive reforms intended at modernization, which were initially popular. In 1889, King Aedanicus VIII died and supposedly named FitzRex as Crown Regent for the Kingdom rather than the normal succession to his son and heir, the Prince of Halfway, Patrick. Historians, scholars, and forensics experts have long argued whether or not "Aedanicus's Last Will and Testament" was forged. Either way, Procurator Gréagóir FitzRex became Crown-Regent Gréagóir FitzRex, as no King sat in the Julian Palace. The new Crown-Regent swore to install a "legitimate but popular" King following a brief period of reform.
Crown Regency and Red Interregnum
Gréagóir FitzRex sat on the Julian Throne on behalf of a yet-uncrowned Apostolic King of Urcea, and began to implement a wide-reaching series of reforms. His primary focus was on the elevation of the privilegiata officer class at the expense of the nobility, which he aimed to dissolve. FitzRex also sought to secede Urcea from the Holy Levantine Empire, and align Urcea with Caphiria as part of an anti-socialist coalition in light of the semi-recently established socialist state in Veltorina. However, the most wide-reaching and best remembered reform was the Administrative Reorganization Act of 1892, which eliminated the last vestiges of feudalism by sweeping away a large number of crownlands, provinces, free cities, counties, and duchies, and subsequently began a nation-wide survey of land in order to redraw provincial boundaries, a process which was mostly completed in 1895. The Act exempted the three Royal holds - the Archduchy of Urceopolis, the Grand Duchy of Yustona, and the Electorate of Canaery - to be divided at a later time. It also brought about the final expansion of Urceopolis, which added the Borough of Kingswood as part of the Act. It also organized the two non-Urcean portions of the country, Aenglasmarch and Gassavelia, into semi-autonomous states, though FitzRex's military rule limited the amount of autonomy these two states held.
While continuing the veneer of new laws being pushed through the Concilium Daoni, observers noted an increasingly autocratic tendency as members of his Concilium Purpaidá were Generals or other army officers loyal to him. The election of 1895 was mired in allegations of fraud, ballot-stuffing, and violence that returned an overwhelming majority in the Daoni for independent politicians aligned with the Crown-Regent. The National Pact began to openly contest the election results in 1896, resulting in the Royal Army being called in to seize their headquarters and dissolve the party, though most party leaders learned of the operation beforehand and fled to the Ionian Highlands. Meanwhile, Crown-Regent Gréagóir FitzRex claimed plausible deniability by decrying the operation having occurred "at the hands of rogues" who "must face the rule of law", but no charges were filed. In 1896, FitzRex began to spearhead two of his other major initiatives. He announced the formation of a commission that would disentangle Urcea's economic and political institutions from the Holy Levantine Empire, and that Urcea would secede from the Empire by 1905. His proposal to secede was approved by the Gildertach in February of 1896. Second, he passed the Property and Holdings Requirement Act of 1896. This law reduced the property requirement to join the noble optimate class to virtually 0 talers, and also suspended the mechanisms necessary to enroll and maintain membership in the optimate class, functionally abolishing the class by attrition. While most - even traditionalists and conservatives - had little to offer regarding his class changes, given how irrelevant the optimates were, the decision to pull Urcea out of the Empire was highly controversial. Despite the animosity between Urcean nationalist tendencies and the Empire spawned by the Recess of the Julii, Urcea still had some national pride in its role in such an ancient institution.
Behind his public persona, FitzRex worked to consolidate power by moving away from the bourgeoisie-backed Crown Liberal system of Urcea into a more dictatorial, military, technocratic apparatus. This division between the urban privilegiata and the military privilegiata created most of the political fissures in his regime. In 1897, the Crown Regent announced that provincial Governors would not be elected as per the Administrative Reorganization Act of 1892, but rather would be appointed directly by the Crown-Regent with approval of the provincial legislatures, most of which were lead by FitzRex loyalists. This lead to widespread protests, and by July 1897, the National Pact had been outlawed by the Crown Regency on account of it being a "criminal conspiracy against the stability of the state". National Pact leaders fled Urceopolis and rallied clans in the Ionian Highlands into open revolt. Civil war had begun, and it took the historical name "Red Interregnum" for the blood spilled during the conflict, though some historians use that term to refer to the entirety of FitzRex's administration.
While the initial revolt was largely between disaffected Crown Liberals and the Regency, leaders of the uprising pledged to recall the Prince of Halfway of House de Weluta, then living in exile in Burgundie, to the Throne. The promise of restoration motivated Church officials to lean towards the side of the revolutionaries, and the liberal National Pact successfully forged an alliance with traditionalist conservatives. No large scale fighting occurred in 1897, but by the end of the year a portion of the armed forces had defected to the rebelling parties, which were now calling themselves the "Legitimists". Facing a larger coalition, FitzRex began to move his technocratic regime in an increasingly socialist direction in an attempt to bring the lower classes to his banner, a move that many historians claim was successful and politically shrewd though in complete contravention of FitzRex's stated rationale for his alliance with Caphiria. Early 1898 saw a campaign of Royal Army forces trying and failing to break into the Ionian Highlands in an effort to capture Legitimist leaders, and the failure to do so - culminating with a decisive Legitimist victory at the Battle of Goldvale in April - put the Regency regime on the defensive for much of the remainder of the war. Various states of the Holy Levantine Empire - citing the illegality of Urcea's planned secession and answering calls from within Urcea - declared war following the battle in an effort to help the restoration. In May, Burgundie began an invasion of Urcea in the newly formed province of Burgundiemarch in what would become known as the Overland Campaign. FitzRex had anticipated such a move and heavily fortified the province, leading to Burgoignesc forces being bogged down quickly and leading, ultimately, to operational failure. The presence of large foreign armies on Urcean territory provided FitzRex with the pretext to indefinitely suspend meetings of the Concilium Daoni, leaving total control of the war government in the hands of his handpicked Concilium Purpaidá ministers.
Although the Legitimist Front was active within the Urcean plain, the Regal Army was having better success keeping most of the allied Imperial forces bottled behind the Ionian Mountains. Attempts by Burgundie and other Imperial nations to bypass the mountains via the Julia Bay were no less successful, as combined efforts of the Regal Navy and Caphiria's Imperial Naval Fleet successfully managed to interdict allied efforts to break through for most of 1898-1901. Despite the availability of machine gun technology, it was not widely employed during the early war, making the Red Interregnum the final major Occidental conflict to employ traditional cavalry charges and other traditional techniques. The early parts of the war saw employment, on both sides, of technology that would later have significant use but was not yet technologically ready for warfare. Most prominently, Caphiria and Urcea collaborated on the creation of fifteen armored cars for use in battle, but each of the fifteen broke down on the battlefield and the idea was scrapped for a decade. The failure of the forces of the Holy Levantine Empire would be temporary, however, as the internal successes of Legitimist forces - which, by February of 1899 induced defections of entire Cohorts and Regiments at a time - opened the doorway for external aid. Defections within the Regal Navy meant that an organized Legitimist navy - sailing out of bases in Gassavelia - took to the seas by the summer of 1899. By August 1899, the Regal-Caphirian joint naval operation no longer held absolute dominion over the Julia Bay. On land, the Overland Campaign continued to falter, but the Regal Army was defeated in battle at Northgate and was forced to retreat, allowing Levantine armies to link up with Legitimist forces. Despite this, allied forces could proceed no further as regrouped Regal forces created a successful defensive perimeter stretching from Westglen and Goldvale.
As the war dragged onward with no clear path to victory, the Crown Regent began to search for ways to gain an advantage. The socialist policies FitzRex pursued earlier in the war were enhanced, and the Crown Regent decided to reconvene the Concilium Daoni, which had been suspended since May of the previous year, in October of 1899. The Crown Regent guaranteed elections would proceed on schedule in November of 1900. The Crown Regent also promised that, prior to the secession from the Holy Levantine Empire in 1905, a new Apostolic King of Urcea would be found, and that the Crown Regent was personally pursuing all potential candidates. House de Weluta would be disinherited, but both local and foreign candidates who would stand by the reforms would sit on the Julian Throne. The potential of restoration - and the restoration of the Concilium Daoni - intrigued many and persuaded some moderates to FitzRex's side. A renewed manpower pool helped solidify the war on land, but the war on the sea was gradually slipping from FitzRex as increasing defections from the Regal Navy and the full participation of the Navy of Burgundie lead to something resembling true parity on the seas.
The war would continue as a stalemate through the end of 1900, when Burgundie called off the Overland Campaign following two years of failure, and in the north Imperial-Legitimist allied forces were unable to break the defensive perimeter, beginning a period of trench warfare. This would be the end of FitzRex's fortunes, however. The abysmal turnout in the November 1900 elections resulted in a victory for socialists in the 1900 Daoni election. FitzRex accepted the new Daoni in an effort to court revolutionaries, but this move alienated policymakers in Venceia and resulted in a gradual withdrawal of Caphirian material and military support. With the beginning of the 1901 campaign season, Burgoignesc and Legitimist forces defeated the Regal Navy and established a blockade of Cana, capturing the city in June in the decisive Fall of Cana. With the port city and most of Canaery under its control, allied forces could now enter the Urcean plain by land or by sea, as control of Cana gave a vital base from which to raid and land soldiers. Imperial forces began to stream into Cana and across the countryside, taking much of southern Urcea from the Crown Regency. By the end of 1901, the forces of the Crown Regency were reduced to an area approximately covering the Archduchy of Urceopolis and Eastglen, and most of the remaining navy had defected to the Legitimist cause or surrendered, leading to a blockade over the winter.
The "Promised Crown" scandal would embroil FitzRex's government and largely serve to discredit the regency in the eyes of most moderates and especially moderate conservatives. Publicly, FitzRex continued to offer his guarantee that a new King might soon be found on schedule with Urcea's withdrawal from the Empire in 1905. Privately, however, FitzRex soured on the prospect of monarchy given the ability of Patrick, Prince of Halfway in the field and in the public imagination; though FitzRex would not pick someone as strong willed or capable, the position was a threat to him all the same. In August of 1901 the Crown-Regent privately began to draw up plans for reforming the Apostolic Kingdom into the "United Provinces of Urcea" with a strong executive Presidency, which he of course would fill, allowing FitzRex to exercise permanent legitimacy in office. Whether or not FitzRex thought the United Provinces plan would work is unclear, but historians believe he was planning on floating several "trial balloons", so to speak, in advance of revealing the full plan. Government officials leaked the plan at the end of August, outraging the public and forcing FitzRex to entirely disavow the plan. Despite his public disavowal, the Regency began to lose the support of committed constitutional monarchists, who had already been weary of working alongside socialists and professional military officers.
The blockade lead to rapidly deteriorating conditions inside the Regal lines, as food became scarce and most lower class freemen were laid off and sent home due to the lack of available work. Widespread unrest gripped Urceopolis as the city approached starvation by the end of January. The Crown Regent diverted more of his power to the Concilium Daoni in order to reduce the unrest and began to re-purpose some of the Regal Army for night raids across the lines to take foodstores back to the city. The Crown Regent began a semi-effective food rationing system, and began to open the Julian Palace to the public, sharing the Palace's food stores with the masses. These measures were effective in restoring confidence for much of February 1902, but even the Palace's food stores began to run low by the end of the month. FitzRex had restored public confidence in his regime for a temporary time, but the effort became his undoing. On the night of March 2nd, 1902, a family of Urceopolitans were refused larger portions despite the state of their famished children, causing an argument between the family and the workers at the Palace. FitzRex attempted to mediate the discussion, but the argument escalated and the leader of the family stabbed the Crown Regent, leading to the Palace dining hall erupting in a massive riot. FitzRex, not fatally wounded, was trampled in the chaos and was pronounced dead in the Palace. The Daoni met in an emergency session into the early morning of the 3rd, and, following hours of debate, the socialist majority in the Daoni declared a republic which would continue the fight against the Legitimists. It voted to abolish itself and replace itself with a "National Assembly of the Republic".
The Urcean Republic was declared on March 3rd, 1902, in the Royal Green to large crowds assembled outside the Julian Palace. The crowd, largely assembled from groups sympathetic to the socialist majority in the new National Assembly, cheered. The new Republican government began to establish laws, create a new food rationing system, organize the now "National Republican Army" out of the old Regal Army, and created national workshops and gardens from which material and food could be provided. It decamped the Julian Palace and determined to take up residence in the Praetorium instead, citing their intent to distance themselves from the "Royal" history. Additionally, the Assembly created a citizen National Guard to keep order and provide a reliable alternative to the conservative privilegiata officer corps of the National Republican Army. The National Assembly was made up of independent socialist members of Assembly in a loose majority (which eventually coalesced into the Republican Party just prior to the fall of the Republic) as well as a well organized minority party known as the National Democratic Party, which was made up of the Crown Regent's supporters and allies and were known informally as "FitzRex's Party" prior to the establishment of the Republic. The party established itself as a formal organization with the establishment of the Republic, and it vowed to carry on FitzRex's ideas of social egalitarianism without full economic socialism.
The Assembly voted, in the middle of March, to completely abolish the optimate and privilegiata classes, establishing a so-called "socialist nation of freemen". Within the first three months of its existence, the Republic's efforts - including the workshop program - had largely been effective in revitalizing the city's wartorn economy and ending the food shortage. The Republic's existence galvanized socialists within the remaining territory it controlled, and many came streaming into Urceopolis to join the Guard. While the Republic saw some political and social successes, the National Republican Army saw a series of reversals on the front. Legitimist and Imperial forces routed Republican defenders at the critical Battle of the Urce on July 9th, 1902, creating a large hole in the defensive line around the Archduchy of Urceopolis. Most of the officers of the National Republican Army - conservative privilegiata - surrendered after the Battle, but about half of the forces from surrendered armies defied their officers and retreated to Urceopolis to defend the Republic. Historians and scholars have debated whether or not the average Republican soldier was a socialist or truly believed in the Republic. A consensus has formed suggesting that about a third of these soldiers were committed republicans of some form or other, but most had developed a hatred of the enemy in the last five years of war and wanted to continue fighting. Whatever the cause, more than 75,000 soldiers - many of whom were gravely injured or ill - continued on to Urceopolis to defend the Republic. By August, the Republic was reduced to just the city and its environs, and the Siege of Urceopolis began. On paper, the remaining National Republican Army and National Guard forces numbered somewhere around 300,000, but scholars have estimated that the amount of men ready for service was not higher than 125,000, and the realistic figure was probably around 75,000 fit to fight at their peak.
Under siege, the Republican government adopted an increasingly radical posture, moving from a position that could be called revolutionary democratic socialism to a more overt dictatorship of the proletariat, purging the remaining privilegiata from the officer corps and arresting any remaining former optimates as potential fifth columnists. Increasing war footing alienated the outer boroughs of the city, which had always been tepid in their support, leading to the Republican forces retreating into the Pale and Oldtown, which they fortified. The radical footing of the government undermined its authority, however, as a dispute with the Pope lead to the National Guard seizing the Papal State, sending Pope Leo XIII fleeing to allied lines and polarizing the thoroughly Catholic population of the Republic, as the Church - heretofore a neutral party - now fully condemned the revolutionary government. The radicalization also resulted in a crackdown on the National Democratic Party, which soon fled the city and defected to the Legitimist cause, making a large public disavowal of republicanism in the process.
On September 8th, combined Urceo-Burgoignesc marine forces stormed The Pale, successfully taking the island after a short skirmish on the Royal Green, which notably left bullet holes in parts of the Levantine Forum which can still be seen today. The same day, the Prince of Halfway took up residence in the Julian Palace but announced he would not take the crown until the whole of Urceopolis was unified under Royal control. The Republican government, now confined to Oldtown, grew increasingly radical and formed the Republican Party, the only legal party within the Daoni. The siege continued on and, without access to the Urce River, the city slowly began to starve once more. The once-strong political binds between the workers and the Republic slowly began to fray, and party officials were often seen openly feuding in the street and gathering rival street gangs. Morale recovered somewhat to begin October as a Legitimist raiding party was captured and publicly executed as reactionary traitors, giving the impression that the National Republican Army was still a fighting force of note. By October, fighting men (and, by now, women) fit for combat was probably no higher than around 40,000 due to defections, disease, and the loss of The Pale. Legitimist forces could have stormed the city - allied forces were probably around 400,000 all told - but a potential sack of Urceopolis was considered to be the absolute worst possible scenario for the legitimacy of the Restoration.
On November 17th, party leaders decided to launch a purge of any remaining privilegiata officers from the ranks of the National Republican Army. The regular Army - as well as those manning the barricades - had become loyal to their commanders rather than to the Republic, and the Assembly decided a quick, nighttime purge would sure up their own position. Informants immediately rushed back to the barracks, where the officers summoned a large contingent of loyalist troops, where they fortified and laid a trap. Party militia arrived and were slaughtered, and the Republican Army forces quickly marched on the Praetorium and besieged the building by 10 PM that night. At 2 AM the following morning, the Army stormed the Praetorium and massacred the leaders of the Republican Party and any members of the National Assembly it could find. On the morning of the 18th, the Army found several former members of Assembly from the National Democratic Party which had remained in the city and installed them in the Assembly. The Republic was now in the hands of the Army and the National Democratic Party, though the Praetorium was now besieged by socialist partisans lead by a few Republicans which had escaped. A tense standoff was broken by 3 in the afternoon on the 18th, as reinforcements from the city's defenses routed the partisans in a particularly bloody affair. Army leaders began to meet with the new Assembly majority members to determine the best course of action to take. On the next morning, November 19th, 1902, the Assembly voted to dissolve the Urcean Republic effective midnight and voted to reconstitute itself as the Concilium Daoni. Before adjourning, the Assembly gave the formal order to the Army to stand down and also formally invited the Prince of Halfway to take control of the city. The National Republican Army surrendered to the Legitimist cause by 1 PM on the 19th, and the newly reconstituted Royal Army entered the city. Prince Patrick and the Pope soon followed. A hastily organized coronation ceremony in St. Peter's Archbasilica followed that evening, and the Prince of Halfway formally became King Patrick III, cementing the restoration and end of the Republic.
King Patrick III assumed command over a broken nation; the organs of the Constitution of Urcea were non-functioning (the "Concilium Daoni" convened at gunpoint was of dubious legality), the landscape was torn apart, and the national economy was disrupted. The King ruled over the Kingdom with an absolute level of authority not seen before or since by an Apostolic King of Urcea; the functions of government on every level were controlled by an occupying army that had spent the last half decade fighting to put him in the Julian Palace. The King, taking lessons from his father, decided to make his first priority the restoration of government with reasonable reforms included. The very first act the King made was to declare that the Urcean Republic was never legal and that the Concilium Daoni had no authority to dissolve the Apostolic Kingdom and, further, that no power on earth had the authority to abrogate the Golden Bull of 1098. The King, controversially, decided to accept the results of the 1900 Daoni election. Despite giving legitimacy to a controversial election, many of the socialists who had been elected had since been killed, and in the ensuing by-elections the National Pact filled the vacant seats and were compelled by the King to form a temporary unity government with the remaining National Democratic Party delegates in the Daoni. Having restored some semblance of organized government under the Constitution, the King turned to unpacking the reforms of the Crown Regency and deciding what to do with the last decade of laws while also considering new reforms that would prevent such a seizure of power from occurring again.
The King decided to consult with the leadership of the Concilium Daoni to determine the fate of the last near-decade and a half of laws, and the solution reached was considered novel by contemporaries. Every action taken by the Government of Urcea since December 21st, 1889 (the date of the death of King Aedanicus VIII), besides the election of 1900, was considered illegitimate and void, and instead, the Daoni would pass an omnibus bill containing all of the reforms that the King and Daoni leadership wanted to retain. The Concilium Daoni then, on December 4th, 1902, considered and passed the "Constitutional Settlement Act of 1902", including an extremely broad array of legislative initiatives codifying what had occurred in the last decade and a half, including the Administrative Reorganization Act of 1892 (without provisions reorganizing the Archduchy of Urceopolis, the Grand Duchy of Yustona, or the Electorate of Canaery), language providing for reintegration into some of the economic institutions of the Holy Levantine Empire that had been severed since the 1890s, language continuing the social assistance programs created during the Regency, language asking the King, as head of the Estates of Urcea, to produce a final settlement on the status of Social class in Urcea, and language confirming other various reforms implemented by FitzRex. The Act also fixed the number of members of the Concilium Daoni at 500, a limitation that remains in force today. Questions regarding the power and status of the office of Procurator were left to be settled at a later time. King Patrick III also began to reform the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea, recalling dismissed or deserted officers and soldiers from the past years back into service and issuing wide-reaching pardons to all but the highest commanders of the Regal Army, restoring normalcy in the armed forces. The pardon was particularly necessary for the reestablishment of the Royal Navy, as the experience of former Regal Navy officers and sailors would be critical for maintaining a navy going forward. The Daoni, on a request of the King, passed a law compensating large landowners who had lost their land during the war, especially under the Urcean Republic, but instead opened the land settlement and residency for the widowed families of soldiers - both Legitimist and Regal forces - in the last large scale Ómestaderoi program. The final major act of 1902 was by the King himself, upon prompting by the Concilium Daoni, issued his reform for Social class in Urcea. Rather than using FitzRex's system which lowered property requirement for optimates to nothing, the King decided to use his authority to completely abolish the optimate class, elevating the entire citizen body to the rank of privilegiata, thereby making it coterminous with citizenship in Urcea. Despite having been in the deepest throes of civil war just the month before, the war-weary populace received the various reforms and post-war expeidents well, and the 1902 Nativity season was characterized by a sense of cautious optimism and renewed trust in national kinship; it was recorded in many papers at the time that Christmas in 1902 saw many exemplary (and sometimes outlandish) acts of public charity, an event which would be remembered by the nation for years to come.
Entering his first full year on the throne in 1903, the King next turned to the permanent status of the office of Procurator. Some in the Concilium Daoni advocated abolishing the position and dividing its authority between the King and Chancellor. The King, however, saw the value in a non-Royal executive and decided to retain the position. Prior to the Regency, the office was appointed by the King with approval from the Daoni, which allowed for some abuse - especially given that FitzRex was functionally able to force his own appointment. Taking cues from the Collegial Electorate, the King decided to adopt a new system, the Procuratorial College. The Procuratorial College would meet every five years following regularly scheduled Concilium Daoni and local elections. Its membership would consist of the Governor from each province, the senior-most delegate of the Concilium Daoni from each province, and from each Royal Hold and State, five specifically elected designees. The Procuratorial College, with 83 members, would meet in December following the election for the Daoni and elect a Procurator, sometimes from among their ranks and sometimes not. This Procuratorial settlement also saw the King confirm the Procurator retaining the rank of Magister Militum that had been given to it during the Regency period, and the authorizing law for the changes also included more clear delineation of the Procurator's powers, replacing earlier precedents. The King decided the first election for Procurator would occur on schedule in December 1905; until then, the King would continue to exercise broad executive authority in order to ensure the security of the transition. This was confirmed by the "Enabling Act of 1903", which, among other provisions, gave the King broad latitude over economic programs and expenditures within the Royal Budget and also gave the King the ability to directly implement new economic law until the next election in 1905. The passage of the Act lead to a two year long political controversy known as The Enabling, as National Pact delegates split decisively on the matter, creating the Julian Party. The Enabling Act would allow the King to bypass a Censorial veto on allowing loans at interest later in 1903; this action was later considered to be the foundation for the later Great Depression in Levantia.
With the various constitutional issues finally settled by the early summer of 1903, the King's focus turned to other matters. While the Constitutional Settlement Act of 1902 had invalidated all actions taken by FitzRex and the various Daonis under his administration, the King nevertheless issued a formal statement of commitment to the Holy Levantine Empire and fealty to the Emperor of the Levantines, known popularly as the Patrick Confessional, and formally rebuked the 1905 secession deadline set by FitzRex, stating that the Gildertach could not have lawfully approved the decision to leave the Empire (and thus its trade system) on the basis that there was no Apostolic King to preside over the meeting of the Gildertach. This statement is widely considered to be the formal end of the Recess of the Julii which had began nearly a century prior. The relationship between House de Weluta and the Empire had been mended by the Empire's support for the Legitimist cause during the Red Interregnum, but the formal acknowledgement set the tone for Urcea's involvement in the Empire going forward. Consequently, with Urcea restoring its relationship with the Empire, Urceopolis sought to strengthen trade ties with Burgundie. The relationship with Burgundie also saw increased joint military exercises and exchange of military technology and intelligence, strengthening the commitment between the two that would form the basis of the later Levantine Union. Beginning in January of 1903, representative from Urcea sat in the Imperial Diet - the first time they had done so since 1816. In 1911, King Patrick III would sit Collegial Electorate as Elector of Canaery, the first time the Apostolic King of Urcea exercised his electoral rights since the 1790s. The King's diplomatic overtures were not entirely friendly, however; Urcea began to strengthen its ties to Veltorina in an effort to isolate and threaten Caphiria, given the latter's intervention in the Red Interregnum.
As 1903 came to a close and 1904 dawned, the King began to prepare for the 1905 election and subsequent transition of power to elected officials as well as a new, full Concilium Daoni. He decided to set forth a handful of policies in order to finish the restoration work he had began in 1902. Namely, the King began an extremely extensive infrastructure project which would not only rebuild the nation's wartorn railways, bridges, and buildings, but also construct many new ones. The King also took an interest in the construction of airfields and hangars for airships. His continued interest in the emergent technology of airships and, to a lesser extent, airplanes, lead to his creation of the Royal Air Fleet in 1904, the precursor of the modern Urcean Royal Air Force. The King's interest in military affairs did not end with experimental air technology, however. The complete failure of the Regal Navy during the Red Interregnum allowed for successful operations for the Legitimists including the noteworthy Fall of Cana. King Patrick III was deeply influenced by the effect of sea power on the outcome of the war. Like his father, the King proposed a major renovation of the navy. Integrating Regal Navy personnel, the King began construction of a modern fleet of ships. Uniquely for the time, the King decided to invite foreign military advisers to Urcea. Many radical naval thinkers from Burgundie came to Urceopolis in the period between 1904 and 1910, giving significant input on how a new and modern navy should look, how it should operate, and how it should be made up. Many of these advisers, like the King, had the lived experience of the Red Interregnum to provide key lessons. The King's naval reconstruction effort provided a major boost to the reconstructing economy, and the industrial base of the nation was up to the task. By 1912, the navy that the King had called for was largely in place, and most contemporaries noted that it was large enough and advanced enough to give Urcea the ability to project power on a nearly global basis and certainly in the Sea of Canete. Part of this effort saw the design and construction of the very first dreadnought in Levantia - the HMCMS Royal Hound - launched in 1909. The naval reconstruction effort centered around the Royal Hound and its sister ships in the Archduchy-class as well as the general-use Coria-class, among many other ship classes. From that point onward, the Navy overtook the Royal Army as the area of special focus for the Government of Urcea. King Patrick III has been considered by some historians to be the father of the modern Royal Navy, and an architect of Urcea's coming naval dominance in the Great War two decades later.
In 1905, the National Democratic Party won a landslide victory over the National Pact, creating the first non-Pact government in decades and ending the temporary unity government established by King Patrick III. While his various infrastructure and military reform efforts would continue unabated, the King handed over primary governing responsibility to the elected government, earning him the admiration of leaders on both sides of the political aisle for his commitment to the Constitution of Urcea. Although the second half of the King's reign would not see as much vigorous activity in reshaping the nation, it nonetheless saw the continuation of development and advancement in most fields, including the economy, political stability, military technology, and social cohesion. In most ways, Urcea emerged from the crucible of the Red Interregnum stronger than it had been than any time since the 18th century. King Patrick III decided to use this strength in 1908, when he deployed parts of the rebuilt Royal Navy to New Yustona in an effort to expand the colony there. His father's effort to do so in 1881 had lead to the colony being considered a discredited vanity project. The technological advances of the Army combined with the Navy's strength were no match for the overwhelmed Confederates, who believed Urcea a paper tiger; Urcea successfully annexed Schoharie, a tribe of the Northern Confederation, and secured an equal trading rights agreement with the Confederation. The demonstration lead to many in the Occident taking notice; the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea were equally as up to the task of displaying Urcean might as its political, social, and economic sectors were.
With Urcea as a fully integrated member of the Holy Levantine Empire once again and a seat in the Collegial Electorate, King Patrick III fully committed the Kingdom to supporting the cause of Emperor and Empire. In 1911 he cast his vote for the election of August I of Burgundie, both because he sincerely believed in his capacity to rule but also as part of a larger effort to continue courting Burgundie as a close ally. The Collegial Electorate believed that Burgundie, as the relatively-new premier power in Levantia (given Urcea's isolation since 1889), could be trusted to lead the Empire back to stability. Derian nationalists, already in revolt or planning revolt in some principalities in Latium, severely resented the notion of a Bergendii ruling over them. For most Derian nationalists, the memory of the First Fratricide - and the effect it had on the possibility of a unified Deric Republic - was an open wound, and resentment against an Emperor from Burgundie worsened the situation "on the ground" in most Deric principalities.
In 1911, the Derian state of Anivania in Latium declared itself a Serene Republic, creating the inference of its own independence; Emperor August had already committed Burgundie and some Imperial states to the War of Faskano Strait, precluding any intervention. Many of the princes of the Kingdom of Latium decided to take matters into their own hands only to find themselves in danger of being overthrown by their own subjects once military mobilization began. The Emperor's diplomatic efforts precluded the outbreak of war, but low-level domestic violence began to occur throughout Latium and between the various principalities within it. Though his confidence in the Emperor was deeply shaken with Burgundie's failure in the War of Faskano Strait, he nonetheless committed Urcea to the Emperor's program of connecting railroads and constructing a telegraphy network. King Patrick III died in 1917 and was succeeded by his 57-year old son, James, who became King James VI. King James kept Urcea committed to the Emperor's infrastructure efforts, which strengthened the physical connection between Urcea and Burgundie even if the efforts were a failure in some other parts of the Empire.
Despite King Patrick's support for the Emperor and the importance of the relationship between Urcea and Burgundie, it became clear by 1919 that Emperor August was no longer capable of serving as Emperor of the Levantines with any sense of legitimacy. King James nonetheless remained a silent critic of the Emperor and made no public call for his abdication, but the King made it clear in private channels that he had no confidence in the Emperor's ability to remedy the deteriorating situation in Latium. In December of 1919, Emperor August proposed a compromise with the Derian liberal nationalist faction: he would divest himself of the title of King of Latium, granting it to a reform-minded Derian prince, with Latium being modeled on Kuhlfros's position within the Empire. This move, which would transform the Holy Levantine Empire into something resembling a loose alliance between Urcea, Kuhlfros, Latium, and Burgundie, was viewed as completely unacceptable by a majority of representatives of the Imperial Diet, who voted to reject it in December. Though the King-Elector maintained public silence, the Emperor asked him for his support and confidence in late January 1920, and King James sent no reply. Without Urcean support and facing increasing opposition in Burgundie for accommodation with the hated Derian people, Emperor August announced on January 29th, 1920, that he would abdicate the throne on the 8th of February, and the Collegial Electorate immediately met in Corcra to ensure that the Imperial Throne did not sit vacant at such a critical hour. The Collegial Electorate met for the entire week prior to Emperor August's abdication, unable to choose a candidate. Eventually, the compromise notion of electing King James of Urcea as Emperor of the Levantines - completely unthinkable a few decades prior - became a real possibility. He was not Bergendii, and the wounds of the Third Caroline War were not as deeply felt in the Kingdom of Latium as the First Fratricide was. Further, the Collegial Electorate believed the Royal Army was strong enough to intervene and ensure that the Deric princes could retain their thrones in the face of revolutionaries. It was also believed that Urcea leading the Empire would command supreme respect, not only among the subjects of the Empire, but also abroad; evidence of Caphirian intervention became more and more evident by the year, and the Electors believed only Urcea could prevent Caphiria stoking the fires of Latinic, Derian nationalism. On February 7th, despite the misgivings of nearly every member of the Collegial Electorate, including King James himself, the Collegial Electorate elected King James VI of Urcea as King of the Levantines. The next day, James was given the traditional coronation ceremony by the Pope in the Imperial Palace in Corcra, becoming Emperor James III. He was the first Urcean and the first member of the House de Weluta to sit on the Imperial Throne since 1798, more than 120 years prior.
Emperor James III's first act was to enter into negotiations with Anivania in order to reestablish Imperial supremacy in exchange for recognition of the Republic, an effort that would end in failure. Despite the efforts he and his father had been working on for nearly two decades, the Emperor still felt that the Royal and Imperial Army - which had just gained its Imperial designation - was not ready for a major armed conflict. Instead, he convinced the princes of Latium to eject Anivania from the free trade area of the Holy Levantine Empire, totally isolating the country economically and diplomatically. The Emperor's move had the intended effect - the government of the Serene Republic of Anivania collapsed by June 1920 and the Duke of Anivania was restored the same month. Unfortunately for the Emperor, the starvation conditions in Anivania had the effect of radicalizing the Derian nationalists, who were soon dispersed throughout the Kingdom of Latium. Though history has recorded agitating groups in the Kingdom of Latium as "Derian nationalists", in truth there were many different groups with entirely different ideologies and motives united by the belief of a united Deric republic. Among these groups were socialists agitating for the abolition of monarchy and independence of the Derian people, many of whom were involved in the government of Anivania. Many of these individuals fled to the Electorate of Aescarata, which erupted in a socialist revolt in 1921. From the perspective of Urcea, the Electorate falling to rebel groups was an entirely different proposition than Anivania as the Electorate sat on Urcea's border. On August 1st, 1921, the National Democratic Party-controlled Concilium Daoni gave its overwhelming support to Emperor James III for a military intervention. The Royal and Imperial Army, which had not fought in a real battle since the Red Interregnum, invaded Aescarata on August 15th. The reformed Royal and Imperial Army quickly subdued the rebellion and occupied the country by the end of August. Seeking not to repeat the failures in Anivania, the Emperor traveled to Corcra to put the matter before the Imperial Diet. Following weeks of debate, the Diet finally returned a solution. Aescarata was not strictly Derian like its neighbors, having Urcean, Gassavelian, and Bergendii influences besides a unique local culture. Consequently, the Diet decided that removing Aescarata from the Kingdom of Latium and reassigning it to the legal fiction of the Imperial Kingdom of Urcea, putting the Electorate under the Emperor's direct supervision. The Diet also offered the Emperor, if the Concilium Daoni approved, the right to garrison the Royal and Imperial Army in the country for a period of ten years in order to restore order. The Daoni approved, and the Imperial Charter was officially changed on March 1st, 1922. Derian nationalists, far from placated by the removal of a marginally Derian country from Latium, considered this an insult to the dignity of the Derian people and a repeat of the First Fratricide, where the proposition of a united Deric state was fractured. Derian nationalists, socialists, and independence-minded liberals began agitating at a level unseen, and during this period Caphiria made formal contact with these subversive groups via a series of agents. Despite the unrest, most considered the Emperor's interventions in Anivania and Aescarata to be a success, and for the time being the geopolitical situation in the Kingdom of Latium was stable. The Emperor was aware things were not what they seemed; that unrest, plans for revolt, and Caphirian ties were bubbling under the surface, but Emperor James III felt his hands were tied; the Aescarata situation had been a risk, and further provocations in the Kingdom of Latium could make it appear as if Urcea was planning to dominate the Empire, not restore it to stability.
Early in 1925, an election in the Republic of Lutsana - a state in the Kingdom of Latium - returned the Lutsana Worker’s Party in the government. The LWP appointed an openly communist Prime Minister. The Emperor was compelled by the princes to suppress the results of the election and adopt an Empire-wide policy of rollback in order to combat revolutionary threats. The Diet and Emperor issued a joint proclamation demanding a new election, but the government of Lutsana refused. The conservative-minded Army of Lutsana viewed this proclamation as delegitimizing the new LWP-lead government, and consequently the Army launched a coup, but were soon defeated by an army of workers and peasants. The Emperor sought to intervene, but the 1925 Concilium Daoni was considered close and, as Apostolic King of Urcea, James did not want to take any drastic moves to interfere with the normal functioning of government. This, combined with the attention the King was increasingly showing towards the growing crisis in the Kingdom of Latium, lead to a further strengthening of the precedent of Royal withdrawal within the Constitution of Urcea. The 1925 election saw a resurgent National Pact threatening the now two-decades long control of the National Democratic Party. The National Pact was sympathetic towards the liberals in the Kingdom of Latium and was concerned with the growing power the King was accumulating as Emperor. The National Democratic Party, on the other hand, viewed themselves as fierce defenders of the existing Constitutional settlement and champions of stability and order in Levantia; the NDP held that the existence of the Holy Levantine Empire was absolutely necessary to ensure stability and prevent open war, a position it had dramatically reversed on since the party's founding during the FitzRex era. It additionally campaigned on the notion that a challenge to James as Emperor was a challenge to Urcea and an insult to national pride. This attitude was increasingly being felt throughout Urcean society, and the refusal of Lutsana to comply with the Emperor and eject its radical socialist party - one that many Urceans associated with the horrors and excesses of the Urcean Republic two decades earlier - resonated with the people. The National Democratic Party won a commanding majority in the Concilium Daoni in 1925 and the government consequently created a series of temporary laws - collectively known as the Regional Stability Acts of 1926 - allowing the Apostolic King of Urcea absolute carte blanche control of the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea for use in Levantia. The government issued a statement of support for the King's reign as Emperor. These policies were collectively referred to by a phrase used in a speech made by then-Chancellor Seán Virius: "The Emperor's word is Urcea's word]]", or in other words, that the will of the Emperor was the will of the Government of Urcea, and to refuse the lawful demands of the Emperor was an insult of Urcea's national pride. Though the situation in the Kingdom of Latium was rapidly declining by January 1926, the supreme confidence invested in him by the Government of Urcea gave him renewed confidence to impose the will of the Empire in the Kingdom of Latium.
In February of 1926, another imperial state, Geneseo, elected a syndicalist government and the election results were confirmed by the Duke of Geneseo before he fled the Duchy. The Emperor issued another proclamation demanding the election be reconsidered, and like in the Lutsana case it was refused. Unlike in the case of Lutsana, the Emperor sent an expeditionary force of the [[Royal and Imperial Army (Urcea)}Royal and Imperial Army]] through Latium to subdue the government of Geneseo. The Royal and Imperial Army was stopped at the border of the Margraviate of Novaustramark, which refused entry to the Royal and Imperial Army. Following three days of tense standoff, the Derian nationalist-filled Novaustramark army began firing on the expeditionary force, causing a major international incident. The Emperor appeared in person before the Imperial Diet and demanded the Duke of Novaustramark be censured and asserted that the Imperial Army could enter any territory within the Holy Levantine Empire in order to execute the business of the Empire. The princes of Latium, though appreciative of the Emperor's efforts, chafed severely under this assertion and refused to censure Novaustramark. The Concilium Daoni was outraged and demanded the King take action. Seeing no other option, on March 3rd, 1926, King James VI began the full mobilization of the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea. The mobilization was enough to break the will of Novaustramark and compel the Diet into censuring the Duke; the mobilization was partially canceled although the Army was now on permanent elevated alertness. The Army quickly restored the Duke in Geneseo and crushed the rebellion. After the incident, the Royal and Imperial Army pulled out but established heavy garrisoning on Urcea's eastern border as well as positions in Burgundie. The Emperor's garrisoning of Burgundie was intended to be a vote of support for Burgundie against the increasing pressure it was put under from neighboring Derian nationalists. Derian nationalists and the princes alike viewed this as an insult and implicit threat, and the entire Novaustramark incident had severely polarized the Imperial Diet. The Emperor decreed at the end of March that Novaustramark, Aescarata, and Geneseo would be responsible for footing the cost of the bases in Burgundie, yet another severe insult to the Derian national consciousness.
Despite the fact he himself was a constitutional monarch, James himself deeply believed in the rights of the princes of the Kingdom of Latium and the principle that Urcea ought not and, legally, could not be concerned with the internal affairs of other members of the Holy Levantine Empire. Following the conclusion of the Novaustramark incident, a faction within the National Democratic Party met with the Emperor and tried to steer a change of national course. It was suggested that the Emperor should force the princes to attempt reforms, aligning the institution of the Empire with the various reform-minded liberals and the majority of the Derian people rather than with the princes. This course of action was secretly endorsed by Prince Brian of Halfway, though his involvement in organizing the conference was not revealed until the 1950s. The meeting was a failure as the Emperor rejected the course of action as cowardly and an illegal intervention in Latin affairs. Despite this, the Concilium Daoni continued to support the Emperor and applauded his successful intervention in Novaustramark and Geneseo. The Urcean people also generally approved of the Emperor's actions and felt that the national honor had been avenged. The remainder of spring and early summer were peaceful and stable, though the Imperial Diet was now a contentious place where, on June 3rd, fist fights broke out between the members. In July, the peace was disrupted in multiple states as Imperial Tax Collectors meant for Novaustramark were viciously assaulted, branches of the Imperial bank were robbed and destroyed, and the residents of several Imperial princes were violently attacked. The Emperor again announced the mobilization of the whole Army; this time, there would be cancellation. Fifteen states were in some kind of conflagration by the middle of fall, and the Emperor was hesitant to fully use the might of the Royal and Imperial Army lest the Imperial Diet begin to turn against him.
On the morning of March 12th, 1927, a large flotilla of Caphiria's Imperial Naval Fleet was detected by the Navy of Burgundie and landed in the Imperial state of Loreseia, one of the sites of the unrest. The Caphirian ships landed a large army of Caphirian-armed and trained Derian nationalists; these nationalists linked up with local cells and provided them with Caphirian arms, and then these "Legions" as they were called began to fan out. Large parts of eastern Latium were taken by the Legions by the end of the month, establishing various free states. The Emperor held back no more; the Royal and Imperial Army - more than 250,000 strong with many more forces mobilizing - entered the Kingdom of Latium on March 29th, 1927. In response, the Legion-controlled states formally declared war on the Holy Levantine Empire generally and Urcea specifically. The first phase of the Great War had officially begun, though the scope of the coming conflict would not become clear for several years.
Great War (1927-1935)
With the presence of large Derian nationalist armies present in eastern Latium, the Royal and Imperial Army's top priority was the defense of eastern Burgundie and preventing civil bloodshed between Derians and Bergendii, as had occurred in the First Fratricide. The Royal and Imperial Army garrisons aimed at intervention in the Kingdom of Latium were ill-prepared to mount a defense in Burgundie's east, and by the end of April, 1927, the province of Marves had been overrun by the Derian nationalists. The Royal and Imperial Army arrived in force by May, but it was too little, too late. The Derian advance into Estia was halted with the advent of trench warfare by the hastily raised Tropes della Metropol, whose access to machine guns meant that the Derians were severely outgunned and had to dig in opposite the Burgoignesc lines. With the war bogged down in the east, the Royal and Imperial Army was gradually able to disengage in metropolitan Burgundie and focus elsewhere. In June, the Royal and Imperial Army successfully defended Corcra and drove the nationalists back east. The victory was short-lived, however, as Drusla - a state near Burgundie - fell to the nationalists. Drusla severely compromised the existing lines of trenches and defenses in Burgundie, requiring another infusion of Urcean forces into the country. In July, the Navy of Burgundie and Royal Navy announced it would begin actively interdicting any supply ships or convoys sailing into Levantine ports not bearing a national flag. This policy was expanded in November 1927 to be a full blockade of eastern Latium. Though the lines had solidified in the west and allied navies held firm in the east, supplies and implicit support from Kuhlfros kept the "Legions" on their feet through the end of 1927 and all of 1928. The war continued through 1928 without clear result, as campaigns from the Royal and Imperial Navy in Latium were successful in the north but continued to give ground in the south, further putting the still-mobilizing Burgundie at risk. By August of 1928, every principality in the Kingdom of Latium not directly occupied by allied forces had been overthrown and established as a free state. In November, the various Legion-occupied and revolutionary states - many of them with drastically different political and ideological programs - announced the formation of a provisional Deric Republic to prosecute the war effort. In 1928, an international incident known as the "Order Affair" proved Caphirian involvement in the war in Latium, nearly drawing Urcea into a war with Caphiria, but leadership of the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea did not believe Urcea ready, so the Emperor allowed the matter to drop. Also in 1928, a series of allied states in Audonia began a war with Burgundie, which they perceived as weak due to the invasion of the country by the Derian nationalists. The Government of Urcea reluctantly promised to enter the war in Audonia by 1930 if Burgundie did not have the matter settled. Small portions of the armed forces were diverted to Antilles, drawing criticism from the National Pact.
1929 was a momentous year for the Empire and for Urcea. In February, Emperor James III announced that his son, Brian, the Prince of Halfway would be assuming the role of Crown Regent of Urcea so that the Emperor could fully devote his attention to winning the war. Early in the year, the King decided to reform the Royal Air Fleet into the Royal Air Force given the growing importance in heavier-than-air airplanes in emergent modern warfare. The Royal Air Force was comprised of air corps units from the Royal and Imperial Army as well as other independent agencies within the Government of Urcea devoted to airplane research and development. In May, the Royal and Imperial Army - now supplemented by a few divisions of Derian loyalists - broke through in the north and pushed to the Levantine Ocean near Alba Concordia, cutting off the Deric Republic from supplies from Kuhlfros to the north. The offensive stretched the Imperial lines thin, however, and in June the Deric forces broke through to the Kuhlfrosian border, cutting off a large number of Royal and Imperial Army forces who needed to be evacuated by sea. On June 29th, the forces of the Deric Republic captured Corcra, a major blow to the legitimacy of the Imperial cause. The prince-electors of the Empire - mostly all deprived of their electorates by now - took up residence in Urceopolis. Most of their descendants would remain in the city up through today. Despite several key victories, the Deric Republic would again be cut off by the middle of July, as Diamavya invaded Kuhlfros to reclaim lost territory from the 1880s, necessitating an end to the covert support for the Derian cause. For the time being, the strength of Urcean artillery allowed for some minor breakthroughs and prevented the formation of trenches in most places, but in the key parts of the line - especially centered on Corcra - trench warfare set in and would not abate for another two years. On October 2nd, 1929, the 70-year old Emperor James III - King James VI of Urcea - died. In Urcea, the ascension of King Brian IV was met with considerable optimism, as the new King was very popular and well-liked during his eight months as regent. The members of the Collegial Electorate and Imperial Diet - both of which were now meeting in Urceopolis - were sharply divided on the prospect of electing another Urcean to sit as Emperor of the Levantines. Given the emergency environment, the Electorate was convened the same day as the Emperor's death. Following hours of debate and rounds of voting, King Brian IV was eventually elected Emperor by a plurality of 12 votes. The next day, October 3rd, he received a dual coronation from the Pope in St. Peter's Archbasilica, receiving the traditional coronations due the Apostolic King of Urcea and Emperor of the Levantines. The campaign season ended soon after, but the new Emperor - Brian VIII in Levantine numbering - took steps to put Urcea on a total war footing, bringing the entire industrial base of the country into the war effort with approval of the Concilium Daoni. His predecessor, Emperor James III, had been of the opinion that the rebellion in Latium could be subdued with expeditionary forces and Urcea's current supply system, but Brian recognized that, even if that were true, war with Caphiria was probably inevitable. The Concilium Daoni, on the King's request, also introduced a limited conscription program. The Royal and Imperial Army had been able to win some critical victories and outmaneuver the opponent, but Emperor Brian VIII recognized the only way to win militarily in Latium was to entirely overwhelm them using the entire might of Urcea. The Emperor also had notions that a political and diplomatic conclusion to the conflict could be reached, an opinion he expressed in first his address to the Imperial Diet. The solution to the present crisis, the Emperor offered, was not merely in the supremacy of arms but in the efforts of the princes themselves; that if they proposed and implemented reforms, the nationalist cause would be starved of manpower. Brian would not make the mistake of offering Latium to the nationalists like August did, but proposed some centralized institutions for the Kingdom of Latium, institutions that resembled what would later become those of the Confederation of Latium. The princes were incredulous at the suggestion, and the Emperor dropped the matter for the time, but the address had a major effect on the politics of the Empire. The reform-minded and liberal members of the Diet believed they had a new champion, and the conservatives felt betrayed. The Emperor assured all parties that his top priority would be the restoration of the princes, easing tensions for a time.
The Great War in 1930 would see the calcification of defensive lines and the failure of the Royal and Imperial Army to make a meaningful advance. With the loss of Kuhlfrosian support, a new Caphirian smuggling operation emerged in an effort to bring machine guns and other implements into Latium to ensure the Deric Republic's forces were not out-gunned. Many of the smugglers were simply flying into Latium on one-way supply runs, but most simply smuggled weapons in among legitimate goods. The new weapons meant that the Deric Republic could wage its own brand of trench warfare, and by the middle of 1930 a massive series of trenches and fortifications ran from the border of Kuhlfros to the border of Burgundie, running just west of Corcra. The Royal and Imperial Army began training full tank divisions in the summer of 1930 using the new, mass-produced SAV-5 tank, but these units would not be ready for another year. Prior to the SAV-5's deployment, Urcea had no armored divisions and its tank doctrine was typically concerned with using tanks as a mobile border defense unit; it had obtained a number of tanks prior to the production of the SAV-5, but these were mostly of foreign design or kept in reserve for defense of Urcea. With the war devolving into a static boundaries, enthusiasm for the National Democratic Party and its handling of the war began to fall, while Urcean public support for the war was still high. Also during the summer of 1930, Urcea agreed to support Burgundie in its ongoing war in Audonia, which soon became the eastern theater of the expanding Great War; Urcea and Burgundie agreed upon a Kingdom of Latium-first strategy, prioritizing the existential threat to Burgundie and the Empire over what Urceopolis considered a "colonial squabble". In November of 1930, the National Pact won a majority in the Concilium Daoni and elected a Procurator, allowing it to form its first government since the national unity government of King Patrick III prior to the 1905 election. The National Pact renounced the policy of "The Emperor's Word is Urcea's Word", but nonetheless promised King Brian IV that his emergency war powers were safe for the time being. Instead, the King had a new popular mandate from the National Pact government: preservation of the Holy Levantine Empire was important for regional stability and should be a priority, but the first priority for the Emperor was to attain an honorable end of the war. A secret conference between the King and the incoming National Pact leaders held on December 11th, 1930, set forth the nation's policy. The Emperor planned to gain the upper hand in the war and then reach a negotiated settlement. The Emperor's planned settlement was the one he proposed to the Diet in 1929, which he would present to the Imperial Diet as a fait accompli. The Emperor's planned trump card - the armored divisions - were still being prepared, but in February 1931 the Royal and Imperial Army began a line-wide artillery bombardment which would last for three weeks. Called Operation Onslaught, the barrage succeeded in gaining the Royal and Imperial Army's artillery corps valuable experience, and, although it didn't substantially alter the strategic outlook in the Kingdom of Latium, it did allow advances of the Royal and Imperial Army along some parts of the line, and the barrage additionally demoralized the Deric forces. Various offensives throughout the rest of 1931 failed until early October, when the Royal and Imperial Army launched Operation Princeps. Ten armored divisions broke through the Deric trenches in a pincer move and collapsed their line, with the armor then surrounding the city and the infantry launching a full frontal assault. Though the Royal and Imperial Army incurred heavy casualties with the infantry charge, Corcra fell on October 8th. For his role in retaking Corcra, which he set as the top priority for the Army and expedited the deployment of the armored divisions, the Imperial Diet gave Emperor Brian VIII the title of "Restitutor Orbis", or "restorer of the world". Though the apparatuses of the Imperial government wouldn't relocate to Corcra until the crisis had passed, the recapture of the nominal capital of the Empire proved a huge morale boost. With the center of the Deric line having collapsed, the armored divisions spearheaded several more offensives before the end of the year, but most of the tanks had broken down by December of 1931. Despite the forward movement having stalled, Imperial forces made large gains. While Urcea was pushing the offensive in northern Latium, the Tropes della Metropol finally ejected Derian nationalist forces from Burgundie in November and recaptured Drusla in early December. Elsewhere in 1931, the Royal Navy began monitoring Caphirian shipments to Audonia in order to support the war effort against the Levantines there, but due to the state of still-neutrality Caphiria maintained, the Royal Navy was reduced to an intelligence and reconnaissance role. Additionally, Urcean forces in Antilles began to strike at Audonian forces to ensure clear access to the Gulf of Kandara. Land-based aircraft of the Royal Air Force began experimental naval bombings against the Audonians, but the experiments were considered mixed at best and the use of air power on the sea was ruled out for another four years. The Royal Navy saw some of its first true combat experience in Audonia in 1931, but most of its deployments were with outdated ships such as the Coria-class cruiser. The experience gained by its sailors, however, would be invaluable in the coming years with major naval deployments between Halfway and Urlazio. Also in 1931, Diamavya and Caphiria agreed to a formal alliance, leading to Urcea sending provisions and supplies to Kuhlfros with the promise to send more once the war in Latium was complete. While the Holy Levantine Empire maintained considerable enmity towards Kuhlfros in the early 1930s due to its role in fanning the flames of revolt in the Kingdom of Latium, Urcea had no choice but to aid Kuhlfros and curb Caphirian influence in Ultmar. In response to the alliance, Urcea publicly condemned Diamavya as a rogue state, leading to the severing of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
As Urcea's focus shifted further afield than Latium, and with a major victory having been achieved as the foreign-trained Legions of the Deric Republic were been mostly broken, the Emperor began secret negotiations with the reformists and liberals within the Republic. Though the city of Corcra itself fell, the Free State of Corcra took the lead within the pro-peace faction. Since late 1931, supplies from Caphiria had been cut off due to Caphirian preparations for war in Sarpedon and supplies going elsewhere, such as Diamavya and, beginning recently, Audonia. The various leaders of the Deric Republic were quarreling nearly daily, and the peace faction emerged out of those who opposed both extremist nationalists and socialists. Major campaigns began in February of 1932, with Urcea again on the offensive. Several minor victories convinced the peace faction that ending the war was preferable to the defeat and ravaging of the Kingdom of Latium by foreign powers. The dire situation within the Deric Republic worsened with Caphiria's declaration of war on Veltorina in August of 1932, with Venceia having believed the Levantine powers were distracted enough to prevent their intervention. Deric leaders realized that no further supplies or aid could be expected; the peace faction successfully convinced many moderates that they had been deceived, and that the Deric Republic was little more than a designed speedbump for Levantia before fighting began in Sarpedon. From the Emperor's perspective, it was now absolutely imperative to end the war in Latium; the National Pact believed the war in Sarpedon to be the priority, since Urcea was treaty-bound to defend Veltorina according to the peace treaty ending the Veltorine War of Independence. Consequently, in September, the Emperor and factions within the Deric Republic agreed to a framework truce called the Peace of Ardaire. In it, Urcea formally recognized any "free state" of the Deric Republic that abjured the radical nationalist proposition and would agree to a truce. The peace included the promise of recognition of Latium-wide institutions (similar to what the Emperor proposed to the Diet in 1929), and also promised a future settlement on the status of the Holy Levantine Empire and Kingdom of Latium. Several free states agreed to the peace and defected to the cause of Urcea and Burgundie. Outraged members of the Imperial Diet and several princes whose claims were now not recognized by Urcea began a riot in Urceopolis, burning down a part of Oldtown until the members and princes were arrested on September 19th. With the arrest and imprisonment of dissenting members of the Diet, it functionally ceased to operate as a formal institution; its remaining members were all loyalists of the Emperor, and from 1932 onward the Emperor of the Levantines, Brian VIII, functionally ruled the Empire alone. Not only was the peace a geopolitical win for the Emperor given that it guaranteed a victory in Latium in the future, but it was also a political one. The leadership of the National Pact felt that the King had kept his promise from the December 1930 meeting, and its leadership agreed to renew King Brian IV's authority to prosecute the war in Latium indefinitely. A further secret meeting in late 1932 between the National Pact's leadership and the King was held; the Procurator told the King that, independent of the Emperor's war, the Government of Urcea intended to declare war on Caphiria by no later than 1935, and it was absolutely imperative that the war in Latium come to a close by then in order to prevent a two front war. The King agreed to this and promised the war would be functionally over by 1935, and that a permanent settlement for the Empire would be agreed to by then. The Government of Urcea, in turn, made a secret promise to the government of Veltorina that it would come to its aid fully in 1935. 1932 came to a close with the beginning of arms shipments to Veltorina via Dorhaven, a policy that was neither publicized nor official but nonetheless played an important role in keeping Veltorina fighting. On the logistics and supply front, Urcea condemned Caphiria as a rogue state for its invasion of Veltorina, giving Urcea the diplomatic cover to declare an end to the Odoneru Ocean supply line from Caphiria to Diamavya. Patrols of the Royal Navy - aided by the navy of Pauldustllah - shut down formal supplies from Caphiria traveling north.
Early 1933 saw Urcea's island possession of Nolis declare independence from Urcea as a crown commonwealth, retaining the Apostolic King of Urcea but separating its sovereignty and government from Urcea. Nolis, which saw the failure of Urcea to immediately intervene on Veltorina's behalf, was in the midst of a war scare with fears that the island would be on the front lines of a war with Caphiria. The Government of Urcea decided to recognize the declaration on 18 January 1933. Though Nolis was an important possession, Urcea's overseas empire was of relatively second priority and it could not spare forces in Sarpedon while it was already engaged in Levantia and Audonia. The Government made efforts to reinforce its existing possessions, deploying additional forces to the Far Eastern squadron of the Royal Navy. In February, Antilles was besieged by the Audonian League's forces. Antilles, which had been a possession of Urcea since the Great Confessional War, had been fortified and increasingly militarized since 1929 in addition to the reinforcements sent earlier in the year. The initial siege of Antilles went poorly, and the Audonians abandoned the siege by the end of March, 1933. Elsewhere in the Audonian theater, the Royal Navy and Navy of Burgundie would engage in a series of battles with the Audonian navies, especially some of the first battles of the Barbary Straits and the Aab-e-Farus. Back in Levantia, the Royal and Imperial Army made steady progress but ultimately no offensives as dramatic as those in 1932. The armored divisions of the Royal and Imperial Army encountered severe supply and logistical problems as the SAV-5's began to break down in the field, causing a halt to most offensive operations. Further, the battle lines were unclear given the concordat reached with some Deric free states in 1932, making the Royal and Imperial Army hesitant to advance in the face of multiple Derian states undergoing coups to determine their disposition for the remainder of the war. Consequently, no major offensives were launched for most of 1933, but Urcea continued to send supplies and arms to its allies, which now included some of the states of the Deric Republic. The 1934 campaign season was similar to the preceding year for Urcea as few major offensives were launched, but the liberal Derians launched several major offensives and by the beginning of 1935, the ultranationalist faction - centered around the remaining core of the Legions landed by Caphiria in 1927 - were reduced to a border roughly equating to the modern territory of Loreseia in the eastern region of Latium. As the fighting between the Derians continued, King Brian felt confident enough in the situation in Latium to appear before a meeting of the Concilium Daoni and ask for a formal declaration of war on Caphiria on behalf of the sitting Government of Urcea. The Daoni granted his request on February 3rd, and Urcea formally declared war on Caphiria the same day; Diamavya, in response, declared war on Urcea, bringing the Apostolic Kingdom into the northern war. All unofficial smuggling and supply operations were now subject to seizure on the seas and any traffic coming past Halfway from the Urlazian Sea was stopped. The loss of smuggled supplies further weakened the Deric Republic's legions. Rather than immediately move for a decisive blow, however, Urcea began sending an increasing amount of resources and personnel to Tromarine and Halfway in preparation for the war with Caphiria, leaving a reduced presence in Latium. As military planners began to switch focus to the war with Caphiria, the Emperor was reliant on an increasingly reduced number of forces in Latium and a series of uneasy allies, turning to the diplomatic front to bring a total end to the fighting. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy scored a decisive victory at the Battle of the Adonáire Strait against Caphiria, securing naval dominance for the remainder of the war and choking off remaining supply routes into Levantia. While Diamavya could continue its war effort largely on its own, the Deric Republic could not. On May 1st, 1935, forces from the Royal and Imperial Army, Army of Burgundie, and allied Derian forces decisively defeated the Legions, cutting them off from one another and surrounding them following heavy casualties. On the 2nd, the Legions and government of the Deric Republic surrendered, bringing the war in Latium to its effective conclusion. Despite the victory for the Emperor and his allies, the reputation and institutions of the Holy Levantine Empire were critically damaged. Although Urcea shared co-belligerency with Kuhlfros due to the war with Diamavya, the Republic nonethelesss announced its intention to become independent of the Holy Levantine Empire, and it additionally announced it would resist any effort by Urcea to reestablish Imperial governance in Latium. Reestablishment of the Kingdom of Latium was viewed by Urcea's Derian allies as an unacceptable conclusion to the war, stating that some kind of Derian Confederation would be necessary but the medieval institutions of the Kingdom were neither acceptable nor necessary. Viewing the Holy Levantine Empire as formally defunct outside Urcea and the ambivalent position of Burgundie on the issue, the Emperor decided to accept the inevitable. On May 20th, Emperor Brian VIII issued an Imperial proclamation "forever relinquishing...the responsibilities and administration of Imperial Governance in the Kingdoms of Latium and Culfra", functionally renouncing any claim to Imperial institutions or authority beyond Urcea's border. The Concilium Daoni recognized the proclamation and end of the Empire's institutions on May 28th, followed by Burgundie on June 1st. Despite this proclamation, a formal treaty was necessary to end the conflict, and delegates met in Corcra to discuss the terms of the end of the war. By September, the Treaty of Corcra was signed by Urcea, Burgundie, the Deric Republic, and Kuhlfros, and it was ratified by the rump Imperial Diet on September 10th. It acknowledged the right of the Apostolic King of Urcea to retain the style, privileges, Regalia, and status of Emperor of the Levantines in perpetuity, formalized the end of Imperial authority beyond Urcea, provided for the dissolution of the Deric Republic, ceded territory to Burgundie, and established the framework for the creation of the Deric States and final mediatization of the Kingdom of Latium, though this last clause would not be fully complete or implemented until after the end of the Third Fratricide nearly two decades later.
Great War (1935-1953)
The conclusion of hostilities in Latium saw Urcea's attention shift definitively west. By July of 1935, the Royal and Imperial Army had deployed nearly fifty divisions - nearly a half a million men - to Tromarine, Dorhaven, Halfway, and its territory in Urlazio for defensive purposes, though relatively few of these were veteran units who had previously served in Latium. Deliberations between the Government of Urcea, the Apostolic King of Urcea, and the high command of the Urcean armed forces in August of 1935 lead to the adoption of a definitive strategy. First, Sarpedon would be the primary theater of war for Urcea, diverging from Burgundie who began to focus its efforts on the war in Audonia. Second, the continued buildup efforts meant that a full-scale deployment in force in Sarpedon capable of defeating the enemy could not be achieved until the middle of 1937 at the earliest realistically, and most likely in the first half of 1938. Consequently, a three-pronged strategy developed which would buy the allies the necessary time until Urcea could fully enter the war in Sarpedon. First, Urcea would begin shipping additional war materiel to Kuhlfros, not only disrupting Caphirian ally Diamavya's war effort, but also providing a "proving ground" for new Urcean weapons. Second, Dorhaven and Halfway would be used to disrupt the Caphirian war effort via air and naval strikes in order to slow or stop their advance into Veltorina. These strikes would include strategic bombing of Caphirian industry in addition to tactical support of Veltorine defenders on the ground. Third, and most critically, Urcea would deploy an additional forty divisions of Latium veterans to Urlazio and wage a "phony war" there in order to pull Caphirian divisions away from Veltorina. Many of these divisions were not full strength or were otherwise suited only for defensive purposes, but it was hoped that such a buildup would preclude further offensive operations in Sarpedon for the time being.
As Urcea devised its wartime strategy, it also negotiated and agreed to the Istroya Pact with Burgundie. The Pact replicated the open borders and common market institutions of the Holy Levantine Empire between the two nations, both as a wartime expedient but also as a continuation of the beneficial conditions afforded under the Empire. Intended to be a temporary measure, the length of the war would lead to the Pact's existence for another two decades until it was replaced by the similar Levantine Union after the end of the Great War, coinciding with the end of the Third Fratricide.
The early winter months of 1935-36 saw the rapid deployment of veteran Latium divisions to Urlazio. These forces had a nominal strength equaling about 400,000 men, but documents declassified in the 1960s indicate it was likely no more than 215,000 soldiers capable of fighting. Royal and Imperial Army intelligence began a campaign to confuse Caphirian intelligence to shield the true size of "Army Group West". This initially included positioning non-functioning tanks with fresh coats of paint in Urlazio followed by new, inflatable vehicles for visual reconnaissance purposes. By March 2036, the pace of fighting on mainland Sarpedon had slowed to a stalemate as it became clear the Urlazio gambit had worked - Caphiria's military apparatus took the threat on Urlazio very seriously, buying Veltorina the critical time it needed to refresh its fighting forces and allowing Urcea additional time to mobilize and prepare.
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In addition to the developments in the Great War, 1944 was also a momentous year for the Constitution of Urcea. Public opinion had changed considerably during the war years as popular input was growing increasingly valued given the contributions of the Urcean people to the war effort. No major democratic movements formed, but across the political spectrum there had existed both ideological and practical concerns with the 83-member Procuratorial College system to elect the Procurator. While there was democratic input in the system, many believed that a more direct election system - namely, a nation-wide popular vote - would be the best way to select a Procurator. This impulse was not only based on a desire to increase popular input, but also due to complaints from the members of the College themselves that selecting a Procurator was a major distraction from their primary responsibilities as Governor or member of the Concilium Daoni. Consequently, on 7 May 1944, King Brian IV gave his assent to a measure abolishing the Procuratorial College and replacing it with a nation-wide vote for Procurator beginning with the 1945 Election. This system would retain some provincial input as the party primary process for Procuratorial candidates was still to proceed on a province-by-province basis. This change was the most recent major change to the Constitution of Urcea and governs how the Government of Urcea presently functions. It marked the final step on the transformation of the Procurator from a Royal functionary to a true pseudo-chief executive, and also elevated the mandate of the Procurator above that of the Chancellor and Temporary President.
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Lucás IV entered his fifth year as Apostolic King of Urcea in 1952; as a reversal of his earlier posture, the King began working with the National Pact-led government in order to try and bring the fighting to a peaceful settlement, an effort with which he met considerable resistance. Particularly, the Minister of State wielded particular influence within the government, and his view - that a negotiated peace was essentially a zero sum proposition - meant that most within the Pact would not accept anything besides the total defeat of Caphiria, a goal that looked increasingly unachievable despite victories in the Vâlcean Theater of the war. Specifically, the government's stance was that of "no peace without Veltorina", or in other words, Urcea would not accept an end to the war that did not include the full sovereignty of Veltorina being respected, a stance that the King and opposing National Democratic Party viewed as unreasonable and as an unnecessary waste of men and resources. Although the King had the authority to contradict the government and bring an end to hostilities through his own authority - a power the Apostolic King of Urcea still retains - the King was unwilling to push the boundaries of the Constitution of Urcea. Consequently, he began a whistle-stop campaign throughout the country by meeting with governors, local officials, and members of the Concilium Daoni in their districts rather than in Urceopolis. His intention was to bring awareness to how unlikely an outright victory in the war was and to implore officials to begin calls for an end to the war that the King himself could join later. On July 30th, 1952, this campaign took him to Fort St. Andrew in Eastvale to meet with the Governor of the province. At the Fort St. Andrew Station, a car bomb detonated, and though the explosion did not directly harm King Lucás IV, the force of the explosion tipped the King's car on him as he was about to enter it. The King, crushed under the car, was still alive though unconscious when a group of armed men stormed the area. The King was not shot by the men, but the desperate attempts by the outnumbered Life Guard to hold the perimeter meant that the King could not be given help in time. King Lucás IV, 32 years old, died later that night in the Hospital of St. James. He was the first Apostolic King of Urcea to be assassinated. The next day, Derian extremists claimed responsibility for the assassination, claiming that House de Weluta was responsible for the misery and bloodshed of the ongoing Third Fratricide.
What King Lucás IV could not achieve in life, he achieved in death. Lucás's brother, the new King Patrick IV, was informed by the Procurator on August 2nd, 1952, that the government intended to try and achieve a "peace with honor" on Sarpedon so as to focus on the Third Fratricide, as links had been decisively established between the extremist cell and the Derian Liberation League. Popular support for the Great War in the 1940s had turned to resigned apathy by the 1950s; popular focus now began to shift in favor of war in Latium to avenge the fallen King, as the Rally 'round the flag effect came into full effect in the weeks following the King's assassination. In response, the Government of Urcea began arms shipments to the Latium National Congress beginning on August 10th, though no full military response could be mustered without removing significant forces from the Great War. Popular opinion had begun to grow to anger by October, as polls indicated that most Urceans believed the National Pact government had "not sufficiently responded to the assassination" and that the assassination was a "grievous insult to Urcean nationality and the pride of the Kingdom". On his part, King Patrick IV associated himself with the views of the people and began to urge the Government - in private and in public - to reach some kind of accord with Caphiria to end the conflict. With public opinion turning and pressure from the King, the Government of Urcea opened back-channel negotiations with the Government of Caphiria on October 15th, 1952. Urcea's main allies in the conflict - Cartadania and Burgundie - had determined to end the war with a settled peace earlier in 1951, and the assassination in Urcea turned Burgundie's attention from its commitments in Audonia to the ongoing Third Fratricide. Consequently, the initial back-channel negotiations had evolved into public negotiations in neutral Kiravia between four of the five members of the Levantia and Odoneru Treaty Association and Caphiria. Veltorina was excluded from peace negotiations, and several of Caphiria's allies - such as Diamavya - joined the negotiations by January. On 18 February 1953, the powers had agreed to a cease-fire pending a final settlement of the conflict, though low level fighting continued on several fronts, most notably between Burgundie and militant groups in Audonia. Negotiations concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Kartika, which brought the war to an end on 19 May 1953. Caphiria and other powers recognized the Treaty of Corcra and the soon-to-be-formed Levantine Union as well as acknowledging any settlement with the Deric States that the Levantia and Odoneru Treaty Association allies agreed to. Caphiria acknowledged war guilt in Levantia while Urcea controversially acknowledged war guilt in Sarpedon, with both powers pledging to pay reparations to other associated powers on either side. Urcea had both gained and lost much from the final outcome of the war; most divisive was the agreement by Urcea to the annexation of Veltorina by Caphiria in exchange for the independence of and unification of the lands of Great Vâlcea, which would retain Iulia's place in LOTA. Urcea agreed to host the Veltorine government-in-exile, but many veterans and Veltorines felt that Urcea had betrayed Veltorina in exchange for peace in the Deric States; the betrayal would sting for a generation to come. The Treaty settled other theaters of the war with less Urcean involvement, and in Audonia, Burgundie managed to dictate the terms of the peace. All powers involved agreed to form a League of Nations in order to prevent such a war - and such a delayed, controversial peace - from occurring ever again.
More Information: Third Fratricide
Urcea did not wait for the treaty negotiations that would lead to the Treaty of Kartika to conclude. The ceasefire functionally ending the shooting phase of the Great War in Sarpedon was sufficient, and by 1 June 1953, 70 divisions of the Royal and Imperial Army were mobilizing in Eastvale and Burgundiemarch. On the King's request, the Concilium Daoni formally declared war on the Derian Liberation League and its member-states on 10 June 1953, formally entering Urcea into the Third Fratricide. Intending to support the states of the Derian National Congress, the Royal and Imperial Army crossed the border on 11 June, and many divisions were deployed to the capital cities of Hollona and Diorisia and Vorenia, both of which had been threatened previously. The Royal and Imperial Army then divided its forces; the "Southern Prong" focused on the full liberation of Vorenia in order to allow forces from Burgundie to enter the Deric States, while the "Northern Prong" would push to Corcra, much of which was overrun by Liberation forces. The Royal and Imperial Army had begun to pull most of its forces out of Sarpedon by 5 June, and by summer 1954 it planned to have a full 200 divisions deployed to the Deric States.
The focus on the continental war for the last two decades and subsequent return to war in Levantia was a major blow for the National Pact, who had won each election since 1930. Though the general populace felt that the Pact deserved another term in 1950 to complete the war, by 1948 most Urceans were skeptical of how Sarpedon was of any concern to Urcea. The assassination of the King, combined with a reopening of hostilities in Latium, turned the public decidedly against the Pact. Consequently, National Pact leadership began an aggressive plan to finish deployment of the 200 divisions promised by January of 1954. As these plans unfolded, existing Royal and Imperial Army were joined by freshly redeployed forces from Burgundie in September 1953 and defeated Liberation Army forces decisively at the Battle of Albiga, pushing them out of the country and freeing all of Vorenia from organized socialist resistance forces. The "Southern Prong" offensive was incredibly successful, allowing allied forces to enter the Deric States from the south and west, but the "Northern Prong" was less successful. The Royal and Imperial Army had been bogged down at Rendana, a city in Corcra, and failed to break out by 10 November, meaning that all operations were canceled until the promised 200 divisions arrived. Urcea and its Deric allies spent much of the winter planning the next year's offensives while engaged in a major disagreement over strategic bombing in Latium. Urcean command argued it was necessary to subdue the Liberation forces while the Deric allies believed it would be detrimental from a morale point of view and would hamper the Deric States economic development in the years after the war.
Over the winter, the Royal and Imperial Army reorganized campaign forces in order to create a rational military command structure. With considerable hesitation, the forces of the Derian National Congress agreed to be subsumed into a single military hierarchy and command structure, an important precursor to the establishment of the later Levantine Union. The allies decided the best approach would be to push to the Levantine Ocean by capturing Loreseia and splitting the Deric States in half, marginalizing the Liberation forces. Organized Liberation operations collapsed following the successful March Offensive in Loreseia, though fractured cells and units remained in pockets throughout the Deric States. In April, the Liberation League officially disbanded and its remaining constituent members - the Socialist Republic of Vinesia and the Democratic Socialist State of Allaria - unconditionally surrendered on 17 April 1954. Both states refused to surrender to the Deric States, so Urcea accepted Vinesia's surrender and Burgundie accepted Allaria's. The six allied Deric States, Urcea, and Burgundie convened at Electorsbourg from April to July 1954, eventually agreeing to and signing the Treaty of Electorsbourg. The Treaty established the Deric Confederation of all of the states of the former Kingdom of Latium excepting Burgundie. It established the Confederation as the legal successor of the Kingdom of Latium, and additionally finalized border changes and Mediatization called for but not implemented in the Treaty of Corcra.
The Treaty of Electorsbourg formally brought to an end a generation of war for Urcea. At war since 1927, a large percentage of the population could not remember a time before hostilities began nearly three decades before. Critically, it laid the groundwork for negotiations later in 1953 that would transform Urcea and Burgundie's Istroya Pact into something including all of the former members of the Holy Levantine Empire. The bloodshed and considerable socio-economic disruption in Latium lead to the conclusion that the former Empire's flaws could be reformed away with the creation of a free union between its member states. Following months of negotiations, the Levantine Union Treaty was signed on June 1st, 1954 and came into effect the same day, creating the Levantine Union between Urcea, Burgundie, Anglei, and the newly established ten Deric States. Kuhlfros would agree to join later in 1955, reuniting the entire 1935 Holy Levantine Empire into a new union.
The end of the Great War and Third Fratricide ushered in what most historians consider to be the "modern" or "contemporary" period of Urcean history given that the Constitution of Urcea was, by 1950, complete in its present form. The consideration of Urcea in the "present" also includes the end of the Holy Levantine Empire, rise of the Levantine Union, and enmity with Caphiria, all of which resulted from the war. Regardless of how the period is framed, Urcea left the Great War considerably more powerful and wealthy than it had been when it had entered the war. Tens of millions of fighting men returned home in the mid 1950s, an age when the horrors of military development were transformed into an "age of wonders" in terms of civilian technology. The economy, which had been geared towards large scale military production, had lost most of its inefficiencies in the early to mid war period, such that Urcea's economy was undeniably the world's strongest by 1955. Many scholars have posited that the Great War brought to a conclusion the long period of reforms and modernization initiated by King Niall V, with Urcea becoming an undeniable superpower featuring an illiberal constitution, rational administration, a large navy, and a powerful industrial economy.
Early Cold War
The end of hostilities in Sarpedon and elsewhere lead almost immediately to a bitter rivalry between Urcea and Caphiria due to lasting enmity but also unresolved issues from the war that the League of Nations could not or would not resolve. From the perspective of Caphiria, the creation of Great Vâlcea and its addition to the Levantia and Odoneru Treaty Association was considered the "crown jewel" of Levantine Creep, and consequently policymakers in Venceia believed it must redouble its efforts - rather than reduce them - to undermine the influence of Urcea everywhere. For Urcean policymakers, the occupation of Veltorina was unacceptable despite the fact they had agreed to it, and Caphiria's continuing suppression of Levantine Catholics was viewed as intolerable. Additionally, Urcea's role in the war had lead to it adopting a position of the "guarantor of Sarpedon's liberties", a worldview that directly contrasted with Caphiria's intentions to grow its own influence. Consequently, various posturing and other geopolitical efforts between the two powers would begin immediately, beginning the decades long Occidental Cold War that would dominate Urcean foreign policy for the next several generations. Politically, the National Democratic Party continued its majority in the Concilium Daoni in the 1955 election. John Kimmeralalia was elected Procurator and Chancellor and Temporary President, a role he would retain for more than a decade.
During this early period of the Cold War, officials from the Levantine Catholic Church and Imperial Church agreed to meet on Urlazio in the context of the new period of global peace. This meeting, a formal synod, would be aimed at increasing cooperation and dialogue between the two churches. The Urlazio Synod was to be the first effort at rapprochement since the beginning of the Great Schism of 1615. In a series of acts secret from both the public and Apostolic King of Urcea at the time, the Government of Urcea secretly collaborated with the Government of Caphiria to scuttle the plans for the synod by introducing travel bans and other incidents which convinced the Caphirian bishops that the Catholic Church was not operating in good faith. The failure of the Synod bitterly disappointed most Urceans, who passed blame to Caphiria, intensifying hatred for the country.
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King Patrick IV unexpectedly took ill in December of 1966 and composed his last will and testament. The King showed signs of improvement throughout much of January due to rapid advances in medical technology, but his condition was determined to be terminal by 20 January 1967 and he entered rapid decline soon after. On 1 February 1967, following a decade and a half of rule, King Patrick IV died. His 62-year old brother, Donnchad IV, ascended to the throne. His first act was a public release of Patrick's will, which released to the public the details of the Urlazio Synod, including incontrovertible evidence that the National Democratic Party had organized the collapse of the Synod. By the end of February, John Kimmeralalia, leader of the National Democratic Party, admitted his responsibility and resigned both positions. The Government of Urcea was thrown into chaos; the National Democratic Party majority in the Concilium Daoni collapsed, and the remaining "mainline" conference had to rely on votes from the Julian Party to continue a governing majority under the leadership of Thorpe Aedansson. King Donnchad IV controversially decided to appoint the leader of the Julian Party, Petrio Amphár - considered to be a "neutral party" as a third party - as Procurator for the remaining term, an appointment Aedansson was forced to accept in order to retain the working majority in the Concilium Daoni. Far from serving as a "lame duck", Amphár and Aedansson embarked on an aggressive policy platform in order to retain control of the government and in order to move on from the fallout of the Synod Affair. Consequently, on 1 April 1967, Amphár received a semi-permanent appropriation for a military campaign in Punth. On 15 April, Amphár announced it would join its Levantia and Odoneru Treaty Association partner Burgundie in combating militants in Punth, beginning Urcea's inclusion in Operation Kipling which would last nearly a decade.