Consider this the first real post for 2016! Fittingly enough, it's a new map. This one in particular is based on my Crusader Kings 2-Europa Universalis IV
multicampaign game as Austria. Playing as House Edelstein (couldn't resist) since the 8th Century AD, the course of history has changed significantly.So as to give some more sense to it all (and leave perhaps enough room to revisit someday), here's a snapshot of that alternate history, around AD 1800. More specifically, it's centered around a Japan that's seen a very different turn of events.
Part of the inspiration behind this, even in the game itself was wondering how things might have turned out had the European powers set their sights on not only converting and conquering Japan (and succeeding), but colonizing it in a manner not too dissimilar to the New World or Australia. What the repercussions would be for both the Japanese and their German/Austrian "peers," especially after centuries of rule. In addition, you may notice that some of the German names are transliterations of their Japanese original forms.
Also, you may notice a cameo appearance of sorts by a certain fictional country here (albeit as an alternate version compared to a certain AU). Not to mention the implications that there's someone behind all the various Edelstein Kaisers
down the generations. A certain bespectacled aristocrat.
Just to be clear, however, this is a work of fiction. It is not meant to be a propaganda piece or an ideological screed, let alone reflect my own views of German-speaking countries or the Japanese.
It began towards the end of the first Age of Kaiserins, as the late 16th Century came to be known in Austria. When the esteemed Reinhard von Kreuzmark first laid his eyes on the Nipponese isles in 1561, the Ashikaga Shogunate ruled supreme. By the supposed "divine" grace of their Emperor, the will of the bickering Daimyo
fiefs and the might of the Samurai
, Nippon seemed poised to spread their heathen ways beyond their lands, the Shogun
claiming his Korean neighbors and even ancient China for himself. One could only imagine what thoughts loomed among that Oriental people when Reinhard's fleet, first commissioned by Kaiserin
Clara I of the long-standing Edelstein dynasty, took anchor off the port city of Nagasaki, where Christianshafen now stands.
At first, the Shogun
allowed these German-speaking foreigners to establish themselves in 1570 while he focused on his failing Korean adventures. But as the Catholic faith continued to spread out of the Austrian missions and more fiefs on what was then called the island Kyushu looked to distant Europe, animosity grew. No one knows exactly what sparked the tumult afterwards that would end in Nippon's subjugation. Some claim it was the death of a missionary from the New Austrian colonies by a drunken Samurai
. Others claimed it was the decision to send the warriors fighting the Kingdom of Joseon back to their besieged homeland, or perhaps the naval battle that sunk that flotilla to the bottom of the sea. Regardless, then Kaiser
Johann Franz I launched a crusade in 1578 against the Oriental heathens, which proved to be the first in an intermittent conflict that would last almost a century. For a brief time, the famed "spirit of Bushido
" seemed to drive the Nipponese to tremendous lengths to crush the Austrians and their local allies. But as reinforcements arrived and the crushing Imperial victories in the Battles of Tosa (1582), Sekigahara (1599) and Musashi (1613) demonstrated, neither the Samurai's finely-crafted blades nor heathen zeal could match the power of lance, guns and bayonet.
Such were the tides of conflict that eventually, Emperor Nakahito (known traditionally as Go-Sai
), secluded with his ineffectual court in Kyoto
, eventually signed the Nipponese Concordat in 1659 on behalf of his people, formally ending the wars that had ravaged the land. In exchange for renouncing the heathen claim of "divine lineage" from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and accepting the sovereignty of House Edelstein in Wien, he and his successors would retain their status as the supreme figures of Nippon, their people to be treated as equals in the realm. The surviving vestiges of the Ashikaga Shogunate under the Takeda clan fled north into exile in the isle of Ezo, where the Ainu tribes dwelled. While those Samurai
who remained (known to this day as the Ronin
) attempted one last act of defiance it what had been the provinces of Shimotsuke and Mutsu. A romantic, if futile and bloody gesture, as with the last shot fired in the Massacre of the Ronin
in 1663, peace under Austria had become unquestioned.
All that happened generations ago. Know that it is the Year of Our Lord 1800. The Imperial Domain of Nippon (or "Austrian Nippon" in colloquial speech) stands mighty as both Austria's rightful arm over the Pacific and a prosperous realm in its own right. Since the signing of the Concordat, its territories have grown to encompass the neighboring Johannerinseln
(formerly the Ryukyu
islands) as well as Reinhardsinseln (named after the famed navigator and previously under New Austrian rule). The domain's status as a trading center and gateway into the Orient remains unmatched, even compared to the Ming Chinese and Koreans on the mainland, let alone the other European and Neo-Islamic powers. But there is more to these lands in particular than meets the eye.
As a consequence of the Concordat, the socio-political arrangement of the islands are complex even by Imperial standards, themselves rivalling the maddening Byzantine system. Power over all Nippon is shared between two individuals. On the one hand is the Governor residing in Mundungstadt (built over a village called Edo
), who oversees the territories under direct Austrian rule on behalf of the Edelstein Kaiser
, though his status often goes beyond formal borders. On the other is the Nipponese Emperor on the Chrysanthemum Throne, who with his court administers the Concordat provinces, though his influence is felt all through the land. While in one of the more peculiar ironies of history, the Shogunate-in-Exile and Ainu tribes have long since been brought under the Kaiser
's "protection" following an armed intervention in 1718; though the Ezo protectorate remains nominally independent, a Head Emissary appointed by both the Governor and Nipponese Emperor keeps a close watch. While these have remained remarkably stable, much has nonetheless changed over the centuries.
The arrival of settlers and traders from across Austria's vast holdings since the landing in Christianshafen in 1578 have fundamentally altered - and are still altering - the demography of Nippon. Increasingly, German-speaking Europeans, New Austrian colonials and Germanic-Nippon mongrels make up the predominant population of the Imperial territories, especially in the provinces first occupied by Austrian forces during the wars; in some places, one could easily be mistaken for being in the ancestral Austrian homeland. While in the Concordat provinces, one would be hard-pressed to ignore the hybrid culture that has since emerged as Austrian influence continues to be felt; the Nipponese nobility and even their Emperor (who has long since "redeemed" his lineage as akin to being Christ's secular representative on the Orient) have not only become more European in their mannerisms but have married into the myriad Imperial noble houses. All across the domain in general, German and a form of Latinized (and German-infused) Nipponese have become the lingua franca
across all strata of society. The best of Nipponese heritage and culture continues gain popularity across the Empire, be it among the nobles or commoners. The Catholic faith meanwhile is nigh uncontested everywhere in the realm, save perhaps for a handful of heathen (primarily Buddhist and Shinto) enclaves that dwindle with each decade.
A significant exception to such trends still exists in the Ezo protectorate. Here, one could find the closest possible link to "Old" or "Pure" Nipponese culture and language, though the first Takeda Shogun
to take power there in the 17th Century would find the Ainu influences that had since taken root peculiar at best. But aside from that island's ineffectual protests, few within Nippon itself could really consider their present fortunes a loss or some punishment. Rather, it's seen as a gain for its people have achieved more that what their heathen ancestors and the bickering Daimyos
of old could have ever dreamed of. It is a view that's shared as far as the hallowed halls of the Imperial Palace in Wien, the Edelstein Kaisers
consistently applauding Nippon alongside their New Austrian peers for their loyalty.
Alas, it's a loyalty that might soon be tested. New industries are beginning to change the way trade and livelihoods are being conducted. The tenuous balance of power between the Triple Coalition of Byzantium, Scandinavia and Russia, and the Dual Alliance of Austria and United Britannia (formerly the Gaelic Kingdom of Scotland) in Europe, as well as the stand-off between the Crusader-State of the Oriental Knights Hospitalier, Imperial China and its Korean allies, threatens to have global consequences. Meanwhile, rivalries between Nippon and the Viceroyalty of New Austria are escalating beyond trade and social standing even as notions of greater autonomy if not (God forbid), independence are entertained. More worrisome are the underground Neu-Ronin
organizations believed to be supported by elements in Ezo and an unknown local benefactor, though no evidence has surfaced to tie them to such activities.
Of course, such concerns, warranted as they may be, are not the first time that the aristocratic men and women of the Edelstein line has been forced to confront threats to the realm. The Austrian Empire in its myriad incarnations over its over 1,000 year history has endured wars, strife and great tribulations that have felled lesser powers. With some more superstitious groups believing it to be the intervention of not only God but also of the mythic "hidden" Edelstein, who it is claimed once ruled in various guises as Roderich I-IV and may one day return in Austria's darkest hour.
Regardless, may Austrian Nippon endure for the next century and for all others to come. May the Empire endure where history has failed. Fur der Vaterland, Banzai.
If only you're here to witness these times, Meine Lieben.
As a disclaimer, just to be safe, all rights to Paradox Interactive games belong to their respective owners.