Monday, October 14, 2013

Stu Plays Civ: Britain, 4000 BC-1 AD

One of my favorite vidyagaems is the Civ series. As a historian, it's enthralling to look at history and wonder if I could've done a better job. Alternative histories are one of the big preoccupations of the field (just look at the "What If?" series) and so yeah. I've tried to play Civ games and show them to the public, but it always got bogged down before. But now, with my very own blog, this is going to be a thing. I'm playing on a Civ IV Earth map with the holy cities established in the right places, because otherwise you just end up with worldwide holy wars between Hindus, Buddhists and Jews because they got there first.

Anyway, enough of that. It's time for the Chronicles of the Kings of Britain.

From the reign of Stuart I, King of the Britons (4000 BC - 3940 BC)

The priests of our tribes tell us this will be remembered as the year of the gathering. For years we've wandered our separate ways chasing game and fighting each other, but over the years something has happened.

There is a particular place in the river Tamesas, too wide to ford, and accordingly it has taken on the name Lowonida. 'Tis a strategic location to control, because the fishing craft that ply it can sail up and down the length and breadth of the river from here, they can ferry bands of armed men quickly to either side and strike the chiefs of the Tamesas.

Accordingly, he who controls the stretch of the Tamesas called Lowonida increasingly controls the chieftans up and down the Tamesas. And the last such chieftan died recently. We have been chosen by a council of them to be the new "steward" of this arrangement, to maintain the control Lowonida exerts upon the Tamesas and so maintain peace among them all. In light of this we choose our regnal name, Stuart I; and our house name, the House of Stuart. And we have established our throne, such as it is, at Lowonida.

With the establishment of our throne, people have begun to crowd the area. Ferriers take passengers across the Tamesas, people come to trade their hides and meat and to pay tribute to our Crown, weaponsmiths fashion spears out of rock and bone, and the priests do sacrifice to the gods and the people worship here. Why, there are likely to be ten thousand people living here! In Lowonida! Imagine such a thing.

In 3960 BC, we sent our warriors north. The kings north of the Humbri and the kings of Pictland have, in the past, sent raiding parties down the coast, seeking slaves. Knowing of the distant realm of Dal Riata, we sought to make common cause with him. Warring against the Picts, we captured their capital of Din Eidyn, and the King of Dal Riata gave his daughter to us in marriage, that our issue may reign over a United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Domestically, I am proud to have been a supporter of the priests. I have ordered them to perfect the mystic arts in order to better please the gods, and to study the night sky. Some of their leading lights are saying we must create standing stones, thereby to measure the stars and propitiate the gods with sacrifice on the most proper dates. As the gods have delivered two kingdoms unto my hand where I once had none, I consider this right and meet.

From the reign of Phillip II, King of the Britons (3420 BC - 3386 BC)

I have fulfilled the aims of my illustrious ancestor. The priests of the Britons, having become sophisticated observants of the night sky and of the messengers of the gods that flit about therein, have decided upon a final plan for a circle of standing stones to be constructed upon the plains of Dun Sarum. Stones will be quarried from the mountainous land of Cymru, and dragged overland with poles.

This is a vast undertaking, but to quarry the stones I am making plans for the Picts to send workers south, as Lowonida's taxes pay for them. I am also directing that the hunting tracks our warriors and traders take be expanded into proper roads in due course of time. I envision a road system encompassing the whole of this island one day, but I know my health shall fail before it come to fruition. I therefore charge my seed with finishing these tasks both great and good.

From the reign of Stuart IV, King of the Britons (2081 BC - 2052 BC)

The work of my predecessors is completed. I have erected Stonehenge.

Attendant to this, work crews have built massive stone quarries in Cymru. Roads have been built along the Tamesas and throughout Cymru, and I have wed the queen of Kernew, in order to unite her crown to ours. These roads, and the notoriety that has accrued to the Britons on account of Stonehenge, are responsible for the increased number of visitors to our lands. The Vascones have sent envoys, as have the Suebi and even the Erechtheid dynasty of Athens.

There has been some anxiety, however, among the quarriers in Cymru about the lack of demand for stone after the completion of Stonehenge. Therefore, to keep them busy, and for my own glory, I have ordered the undertaking of a series of burial chambers, in the shape of pyramids, that will also point to certain stars in the night sky, that my soul and my descendants' souls, might find rest there with the gods. Furthermore, the construction of these mighty edifices will permit my greater control of society, and grant my kingdom further influence with the outside world.

From the reign of Colin Meason, Peasant Lord of Britons (1349 BC - 1341 BC)

The reign of the oppressive Stuarts is at an end! Damn them and their vanity - they reduced our people to little more than slaves, as they squandered the nation's wealth.

They spent untold sums on their pyramidal tombs as the peasantry toiled. They sunk several kings' ransom into an army and navy to subjugate Hibernia, a land that has done nothing to us. They built a third great city, Abona, to satisfy their vanity and to ensure the subjugation of my dear Cymru.

No longer! The Stuarts wanted a Stonehenge to do sacrifice, so we sacrificed Brennan "The Great," formerly King of the Britons, there. They wanted pyramids to rest their dead, so we laid him in the one he finished. There will be no more pyramids, and we will no longer submit to their yoke.

Indeed, I decree the eternal freedom of the Britons, here and now. The power of kings is gone, and the nobles that served them are being put to the sword in a great upheaval. They are organizing in resistance, but history be on our side! Let it be known, the people rule here! Britons will never, ever be slaves!

From the reign of Stuart IX, King of the Britons and Irish (1340 BC - 1303 BC)

I am pleased to report the restoration of my father's kingdom to the ancient House of Stuart. It was a perilous fight, and the nobles that served my father barely prevailed. Even then, we only prevailed by inviting Roman, Etruscan and Gallic mercenaries to our shores.

Roman learning is significant, and they have begun the veneration of their gods on our shores, and teaching their tongue to their neighbors. But it is no matter. Let them be a part of this new nation I must forge; they certainly bled for it. Let Venus and Apollo be worshipped in Lowonida alongside Matrona.

My father, Brennan the Great, had one great flaw: he could not see the pain of the people. If I am to rule this land, I must succeed where he failed. I must not be arrogant, I must win the people to my side. To this end, I must allow them to be represented in my government. I must create an institution where, as my Gaullish and Roman mercenaries say, they can "parley" their concerns to me. This... "Parliament"... will be the foundation for the successful government of these British Isles.

For indeed, I surpassed my own father. He was content to raid and plunder Hibernia, but they are the same Britons as us. Their tongue is similar to ours, not like the harsh tongues of the continent. They do not deserve our clubs, but our sympathies. Therefore, I ordered the construction of a city at the mouth of the sandbanks of the Lagan River in County Ulster, called Beal Feirsde. I intend to also bring Eblana within my domains in short order, and once all the counties of Hibernia have bent the knee, I or my descendants will be crowned their High King.

But that is not all that was accomplished in my reign. Worshippers, coming from all over the world to do sacrifice at Stonehenge, have praised my beneficent rule. A prophet appeared among them, further refining the druidic cults into a greater system of worship. Veneration of the Gaelic pantheon has greatly increased, and our understanding of the gods has grown, since the arrival of Oisinn in Lowonida. I urged him to establish himself at my royal court, and he took up residence. The priestly class has never been so strong and wise, and furthermore we now get monetary contributions from far abroad on the continent.

From the reign of Roderick II, King of the United Kingdom of Britain, Ireland and Iceland (842 BC - 797 BC)

We have established our rule far beyond the dreams of our ancestors. The House of Stuart commands land from the deserts of Africa to the mysterious islands of the north.

Our fishermen have come upon one such island in my reign, and the cold winds and glaciers have led us to dub it "Ice Land." To facilitate its settlement, we have seen fit to establish the Ice Land Plantation Company. So far, we have only truly settled the land with the poorest of our own people, who have no other choice but to hack it in this new land, and the Norse, who are used to the cold. They have settled a main town on the island, called Reykjavik, and from there endeavour to turn the plantation into a prosperous land, chiefly by fishing and farming.

Furthermore, we have also stepped in where our forebears had not. As it happens, British pirates captured a Carthaginian settlement called Tingis, and then held it against the incursions of Berbers and the threats of the distant Pharaoh of Egypt. Previously, this settlement was governed essentially by pirate law, but we elected to organize the colony as a part of my kingdom. We created the Royal Company of Adventurers Trading to Africa, and offered the original pirates stock in the company in exchange for acquiescing to royal oversight. They gladly accepted, and now their colony is protected by the full force of British arms. This colony, this small, weak colony at the Pillars of Hercules, must surely prove to be only the first of many.

From the reign of Malcolm IV, King of the United Kingdom of Britain, Ireland and Iceland (292 BC - 271 BC)

The colonial reforms of Roderick II augured well. Our African possessions have been ruthlessly attacked by the Roman Empire. Having conquered Carthage, they now seek total control of Mauretania and Africa, and attacked Tingis. After our colonial forces barely defeated their praetorians, their fleet of galleys anchored off the coast and imposed a blockade.

Upon word of this declaration, the defeat of the invasion forces and the stalemate, the Roman envoy in Londinium offered a way to peace - by surrendering Tingis to Roman control. We adamantly refused, and instead decided to invest the necessary resources into going on the offense.

We raised the Royal Scots Guard from volunteers in Dun Eidyn, and embarked them for the voyage to Africa. From local volunteers in Tingis we raised the First African Infantry, and we also constructed a galley fleet in Tingis harbour. We had another fleet, the First Fleet, returning from the settlement of Cape Town at the Cape of Good Hope. The First Fleet surprised a Roman settlement fleet by the Canary Islands, sinking it and all hands but sustaining significant damage. The Second Fleet, out of Tingis, ascertained that the blockading navy sailed for the First Fleet, which is currently leading the Roman navy on a wild goose chase all the way to Cape Town harbour, if necessary. In the meanwhile, the Second Fleet out of Tingis and the Third Fleet out of Londinium are now in control of the Mauretanian coast.

Meanwhile, the Royal Scots Guard and the First African Infantry marched overland for the Roman colony of Volubilis, south of Tingis, and after a brief battle, sacked it in 280 BC, after which peace was declared.

From the reign of Stuart XVI, King of the United Kingdom of Britain, Ireland and Iceland (26 BC - 14 AD)

Britain is the shining jewel of the world. Our empire is not the largest, nor does it number the greatest amount of souls, but our technological prowess is second to none. After the Mauretanian War ended in victory, our scholars devised a new sort of papyrus, one made out of wood pulp. This "paper" allowed for the rapid transmission of knowledge, and to that end a Great Library was ordered constructed in Londinium. Bringing together the finest scholars in the world, a map of the world was soon constructed, demonstrating the extent even of distant Tartary and Cathay.

Our victorious fleets have scoured the seas, looking for new routes and new lands to possibly settle. We have found a great many islands off the southeastern coast of Africa, surveyed the Canaries and explored the Mediterranean. We passed through the Dardanelles for the first time, exploring the Black Sea that is the internal waters of the eastern Roman Empire.

All in all, we have a suitable foundation for empire. The African colonies grow in strength and might, but souring relations with the Gauls have cut our home isles off from Africa. The Gallic Atlantic coast and the Gauls' African allies in M'banza-Kongo might have to be subdued in order for the fleets to sail unfettered from Britain once more. Our generals are weighing the possibilities as we speak. Capturing the strategic city of Burdigala would prevent the Gauls from contesting the movements of our fleets, but investing the city would be a costly and dangerous errand. It might be possible to seize the Danemarch from the Gauls in the same fell swoop, and thereby control access to the Baltic Sea, but this would require even more money and daring.

Let us be content to dwell on our auspicious victories thus far. The future will bring its own story.