The Flag of the Autonomous Grand Duchy
The Autonomous Grand Duchy of Saxmere is self-governing, autonomous entity within the Confederation of Sovereign States. For most of the last two centuries, Saxmere was one of several states of the republican Confederation. A recent referendum, however, marked a decision by the people to pursue greater autonomy and reestablish the Grand Duchy, while remaining a part of the Confederation.
Like its parent nation, Saxmere is a technologically advanced nation with extensive protections for individual rights. While it generally follows a free enterprise economic model, it favours a greater degree of state intervention in the economy than does the Confederation central government. Also, while the citizens of Confederation have grown increasingly apathetic towards religion and extremely libertarian on matters of personal conduct, the citizens of Saxmere remain fairly devote and morally conservative.
- 1 Geography
- 2 People and Culture
- 3 The Excalbian Isles Before the Grand Duchy
- 4 Highland Dominance and the Founding of the Grand Duchy of Saxmere
- 5 Founding of the Confederation of Sovereign States
- 6 20th and 21st Century History
- 7 Politics and Government
Location and Climate
The Excalbian Isles rise from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the Northern Atlantic, southwest of Iceland and southeast of Greenland. The location of the islands ensure mild summers with long days and cool winters with long, dark nights. The flow of the ocean currents, however, keeps the island far milder than Greenland, located to the northwest.
Environment and Topography
The main island – known as Excalbia – is roughly the size of France, Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries, making it one of the largest islands in the world. The Borodea Mountains split the island from north to south along the path of Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Highlands and foothills extend from the range to the west across much of the island. To the north of the highlands are plains and tundra; to the south are grasslands and forests. East of the mountain range, the terrain drops rapidly to foothills, pine forests and rugged coastline.
Saxmere lies east of the Borodea Mountains along the rugged eastern coast of the island. The rocky coast rapidly gives way to agricultural land and hills to the west. Large tracks of forest have been lost in the last hundred years as more land has been converted to agricultural use. While environmental legislation is nearly non-existent at the national level in the Confederation of Sovereign States, Saxmere has enacted some environmental legislation. Under the new grand ducal government, more such legislation is expected.
People and Culture
Early Settlement and Ethnicity
The Excalbian Isles were first settled by the Celts, who landed in present day Saxmere, around the 6th century. By the early 10th century, they formed a number of stable, agrarian tribal groups, located mostly in the Southwestern grasslands and along the rugged Eastern coast.
In the late 10th century, a second wave of settlers – Norsemen – arrived from their colonies in Iceland and Greenland. While the earlier arrivals, now known as the Lowlanders, remained along the coast and in the grasslands, the Norsemen migrated into the highlands.
The 17th century brought a third wave of settlers beginning with Dutch whalers, who settled along the largely deserted Northern coast. Dutch merchants later established trading outposts along the Southern and Eastern coasts, while Anglo-American traders and missionaries settled in the Southwest. A mixed group of escaped African slaves and freedman settled on the island of Deandra in the Southeast in the early 18th century.
While modern immigration has brought people, both human and non-human, from around the world, the largest ethnic groups remain Nordic, Celtic, Anglo-American and African.
Christianity was introduced to the Excalbian Isles in the 12th century. While Catholicism found many adherents among the villages of Eastern coast, which eventually formed the Grand Duchy of Saxmere, most of the inhabitants remained pagan until the early 18th century, when the son of King Ragarth converted to Christianity and proclaimed Christianity the state religion.
While religion is largely in decline in the C.S.S., Catholicism remains the majority religion in Saxmere and a powerful influence in society. It was, in fact, agitation by conservative Catholics against the policies of Confederation President Thomas Caine, which were seen as favouring the Order of the Invisible Hand, that first sparked a movement towards secession. Ironically, it was another movement of Catholic laymen, led by Paul Mardan, that turned the tide of public sentiment against secession in the recent referenda.
Statistically, the Roman Catholic Church accounts for 62% of the population, while the Church of Excalbia claims 9%, the National Baptist Convention 7%, Judaism 7% and the Southland Baptist Convention 4%. Other religions, including minor Christian denominations, Islam, Danaanism and Humanism make up 11% of the population.
The Excalbian Isles Before the Grand Duchy
Celtic settlers arrived in the Excalbian Isles in the 6th century, but mostly remained in the Southwestern grasslands and along the rugged Eastern coast, where they formed stable, agrarian tribal groups. These "Lowlanders" were followed by Norsemen, who migrated into the highlands.
Despite relative isolation from Europe, new arrivals continued to land on Excalbia. These included a small group of Scots, who moved into the highlands and submerged into the Norse Highlanders, and some Irish monks, who in the 12th century introduced Christianity among the Lowlanders on the Eastern coast. The Lowland villages converted to Catholicism and eventually formed the Lowland Grand Duchy of Saxmere.
Highland Dominance and the Founding of the Grand Duchy of Saxmere
By the 13th century, the island’s social structure was well established. The Highland clans were warriors, herders and artisans and dominated the Lowland farmers. Clan warfare in the 15th and 16th centuries produced Excalbia’s first monarch, King Alsgood, the Great, who established his capital at Excalbia Castle, also known as Citadel Excalbia.
Before the years of conflict with Excalbia, the Catholic Eastern Lowlanders lived a pastoral life with no central government. Their villages centered around the Church and were ruled by town councils or occasionally by local barons. The war, however, led to a desire for a strong leader. In 1652, after months of negotiation, the Bishop of Umbra crowned John Patrick Kennan, Baron Cambera, Duke of the newly proclaimed Grand Duchy of Saxmere.
Grand Duke John I managed to hold off the attacks of King Sweyn II of Excalbia, who then made peace with Saxmere in 1653. The peace held for 20 years until Lowlanders in the territory of Trondgard attacked the King’s tax collectors in 1673 reigniting the war. A rebellion against Queen Hildegaard of Excalbia in 1674 gave Saxmere the opportunity to again make peace with the Highland Kingdom.
Peace continued until the mid-18th century. When war resumed, Saxmere suffered a crushing defeat, making the Grand Duchy a tributary of Excalbia. In the early 19th century when a Protestant Christian confederation of Lowland tribes made war against King Ragarth, Saxmere rebelled and joined the confederation. The last Grand Duke, Patrick II, opposed the rebellion and was driven from Saxmere.
When Ragarth’s recently converted Christian son, Joshua, made peace and proclaimed the Holy Empire of Excalbia in 1809, Saxmere became an autonomous, though not fully independent republic.
Founding of the Confederation of Sovereign States
In 1817, a mixed group of American settlers and Lowlanders began demanding a republican government. In order to avoid violence, the Emperor extended a land grant to the republicans east of the Borodea Mountains and a patent to establish an autonomous republican government. The republicans accepted the grant and establish New Virginia.
By 1828, a second settlement, known as Southland and dominated by extremely devout Christians, had been established. Meanwhile, another settlement, known as Deandra, had been founded by a mixed group of escaped African slaves and Freedmen on an island south of Excalbia.
Despite lingering racial prejudices, New Virginia, Southland and Deandra, along with the Lowland Grand Duchy of Saxmere and the Highland settlements of Alud and Trondgard, declared themselves independent states and immediately formed a Confederation of Sovereign States in 1829. The C.S.S. adopted a Constitution based on a modified version of the U.S. Constitution that created a weak central government with strong guarantees for personal liberty.
20th and 21st Century History
While the nations of the Excalbian Isles avoided World War I, they did suffer under the the Great Depression. Both the Holy Empire and the C.S.S. backed the Allies in the World War of the 1940s and sent small forces to join the fight in Europe.
The remaining decades of the 20th century were a period of peaceful economic expansion and political stability.
The Caine Administration
The President of the Confederation is Thomas Caine of the Liberty Party. Caine recently won a hotly contested election, unseating former President Ilmar Alderson. Alderson was running as a write-in candidate after earlier unexpectedly losing the Liberty Party nomination to Caine.
The Liberty Party won the largest number of seats in the lower house – the House of Representatives – but failed to win a majority. The Democratic Party, a radical left-wing that faired surprisingly well in the elections, formed a coalition with the New Liberal Party, the former majority part in the House. The Sovereignty Party, which also did better than expected, has withheld its support from either the Liberty Party or the Democratic-New Liberal coalition, effectively allowing the Democratic-New Liberal coalition to take the post of Speaker of the House. Congressman Joseph Sumners of the New Liberal Party is Speaker of the House. All four parties hold seats in the House of the States with none being able to exercise a majority.
Alliance with Knootoss and Rumours of the Invisible Hand
Following the Dutch Democratic Republic of Knootoss’ intervention in Tanah Burung against radical international terrorists, The Holy Empire of Excalbia declared a boycott of Knootian goods. The Empire also attempted to bar Knootian-flagged ships from the waters of the Excalbian Isles, including those belonging to the other nations of the Isles.
President Caine, in a gesture of independence from Excalbian domination and a show of support for free trade, traveled to Knootoss shortly after his inauguration to sign the Knootian International Stabilisation Treaty (KIST). This has caused Excalbia to nullify the Treaty of Jefferson, a long-standing mutual defence pact between the Empire and the Confederation. Many organizations and international observers believe that the Confederation's sudden alignment with Knootoss is due to the influence of the Order of the Invisible Hand. It has long been rumoured that the Order's influence was growing among the Confederation's business leaders.
Church leaders in the Confederation and Excalbia have been the most vocal critics of the Caine administration and have been among those most likely to claim that the Order is influencing Confederation politics. After the election, Ryan Edelmann, the former Presidential Chief of Staff under President Alderson, became the Caine administration and the Order's most vocal secular critic. He was joined in his criticism by James Kennan, the then-exiled Baron of Cambera and the heir to the title of Grand Duke.
Saxmere Secession Crisis
Saxmere, a devoutly Catholic state, along with devoutly Protestant Southland, became home to the strongest opponents to the Confederation’s new alliance and new policies. Saxmere’s Catholic leaders were been very vocal in attacking the rise of the Order of the Invisible Hand among ruling elites in the Confederation.
With public sentiment against the Order and President Caine rising, the Saxmere state legislature passed a provisional declaration of independence. The declaration of independence was conditional on the current state government reaching an agreement with the would-be Grand Duke on a new constitution and on a peaceful separation from the Confederation.
Meanwhile, Baron James, after establishing his residence at the new Saxmerean Embassy in New Rome, Pantocratoria, began forming the skeleton of a grand ducal government and entered into negotiations with the current state government. This led the Confederation government to denounce secession as a ploy by Excalbia and its ally Pantocratoria to weaken the Confederation and create another puppet monarchy in the Excalbian Isles.
In response to the secession, the Caine administration sealed the borders around Saxmere and closed its airspace. This, in turn, led Excalbia to declare a naval blockade of the Confederation. When Knootoss came to the defence of the C.S.S., the crisis nearly escalated to war.
These negotiations quickly reached an agreement to resolve the secession crisis through a three-part referendum that would allow the people to choose between full independence, greater autonomy or the status quo, as well as between a republic government or the reinstatement of the grand ducal throne. Further negotiations, however, were needed to reach agreement on a general peace treaty. The Treaty of Courtland was finally agreed upon and signed at the conclusion of the negotiations. The treaty holds the promise of avoiding further such conflicts in the North Atlantic.
When the referenda were held a few weeks following the signing of the treaty, the people narrowly defeated full independence and overwhelmingly approved a new relationship of greater autonomy within the Confederation. Somewhat vexingly, the people also narrowly approved the reinstitution of the grand ducal throne. Amidst considerable curiosity and some deep misgivings in other parts of the Confederation, the formerly exiled Baron James of Cambera returned to Saxmere. Shortly afterwards he was crowned Grand Duke of the Autonomous Grand Duchy in a lavish ceremony at St. Brigid’s Cathedral in Umbra.
Not long after the Grand Duke’s coronation, elections were held to seat a new parliament, which will face of the challenge of defining Saxmere’s place as an autonomous member of the Confederation of Sovereign States and a constitutional monarchy within a republic.
You can find more information on the crisis here: NS forums
Politics and Government
Official Name: Autonomous Grand Duchy of Saxmere
Short Name: Saxmere
Founded: As the independent Grand Duchy - 21 May 1652; as the Autonomous Grand Duchy - 12 February 2006.
Type of Government: Autonomous, self-governing constitutional monarchy within a federal republic.
Constitution: Written constitution adopted in 2006 at a Constitutional Convention in Umbra. The national constitution of the Confederation was adopted in 1829 at a Constitutional Convention in the city of Jefferson in the state of New Virginia.
Head of State : The Grand Duke. The current Grand Duke is James of Cambera.
Head of Government: The Prime Minister, who is elected by the parliament and appointed by the Grand Duke. The current Prime Minister is Christian Democratic Pary (CDP) leader Paul Mardan.
Minister of Foreign Commerce and Consular Affairs: Sean Peller, former Governor (not a Member of Parliament [M.P.])
Minister of Defence and Public Safety: Commander Michael "Mike" Mackeown, former Commandant of the State Police (not a Member of Parliament [M.P.])
Minister of Treasury: John Kimble (RPS)
Minister of Home Affairs: Brian McCoughlin (RPS)
Attorney General: Evelyn Coleman (DLP)
Minister of Labour and Industry: Sean Collins (DLP)
Minister of Education: John Flynn (CDP)
Minister of Health and Social Services: Angela Dunne (CDP)
Minister of Transportation: Alexander Baker (RPS)
Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs: Conner Quinn (DLP)
Minister of Technological Development: Dr. Ophelia Gallagher, PhD (not a Member of Parliament [M.P.])
A unicameral legislature known as the House of Parliament.
Parliament is composed of 265 members, directly elected in single-member districts apportioned by population. The parliament elects the Prime Minister, who is then appointed to the position by the Grand Duke. Elections for the first parliament under the new constitution were held shortly after the Grand Duke's coronation and yielded a house dominated by pro-autonomy right-left coalition.
The new coaliton includes the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Renewal Party of Saxmere (RPS). Paul Mardan, leader of the CDP, currently serves as Prime Minister. Richard Butler, a member of DLP, serves as the Lord Speaker of the House.
|Party||Leader(s)||Description||Seats in the Parliament (out of 265)|
|Independence Party||Douglas Aldaris||The Independence Party (IP) remains highly critical of President Caine and his close association with Knootoss. The party is also explicitly opposed to the Order of the Invisible Hand. It continues to advocate in favour of Saxmere’s eventual secession from the Confederation. It is led by former lieutenant governor Douglas Aldaris and legislator Jacqueline Sanders.||41|
|Renewal Party of Saxmere||John Kimble||The Renewal Party of Saxmere (RPS) is closely associated with a new national party, known as the National Renewal Party. Like the NRP, the RPS has called for a restoration of the Confederation’s traditional constitutional balance favouring the power of the states over that of the central government. The RPS advocates cultivating better relations with Excalbia and Pantocratoria, while not severing the Confederation's - or Saxmere's - economic ties with Knootoss. Internally, the RPS advocates economic and personal freedom in the form of strong protections for private enterprise and individual liberties. The RPS and the NRP are closely associated with former Confederation President Ilmars Alderson. In Saxmere, the party is led by former Liberty Party legislator John Kimble.||52|
|Sovereignty Party||Gunter Hendriksen||The Sovereignty Party (SP) advocates a minimalist government at the Confederation level, responsible only for national defense, foreign trade and foreign relations. However, the SP has traditionally supported the right of each state to adopt their own rules and culture, even if they result in widely contradictory laws. However, since the election of President Caine, the SP has tended to place greater importance on limiting government intervention in the economy than on the rights of states. As a result, it is increasingly seen as falling into the orbit of Liberty Party.||15|
|Saxmere Liberty Party||Stephanie Collins||The Saxmere Liberty Party (SLP) is the Saxmerean branch of the national Liberty Party (LP). Traditionally, the LP has been the party of laissez faire capitalism, Federalism and individual liberties. The party has dominated national politics for the last forty years. Since businessman Thomas Caine surprisingly snatched the party’s presidential nomination from then-President Ilmars Alderson, however, the party has advocated a much stronger national policy of business promotion. Following President Caine’s election and his alliance with Knootoss, many have come to associate the party with the Order of the Invisible Hand. The SLP is led by former LP legislator Stephanie Collins.||16|
|Liberal Party of Saxmere||Ken Starling||The Liberal Party of Saxmere (LPS) is centre-left party that supports expanding social guarantees and doing more to regulate business in order to ensure the economic security of workers. The party is affiliated with the national New Liberal Party, which has traditionally been strong in Saxmere, where the state government has adopted far more extensive social guarantees, than in the other states. The party is led by former NLP legislator Ken Starling.||19|
|Democratic Labour Party||Sean Collins||The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is a centre-left party closely associated with the Saxmerean Confederation of Trade Unions and believes that the New Liberal Party, long a friend to labour in Saxmere, and has been tainted by its leaders' cooperation with the Caine administration. The DLP promises to be a truly independent and authentic advocate for the rights of working men and women.||62|
|Christian Democratic Party||Paul Mardan||The Christian Democratic Party (CDP) is a centrist party closely associated with Catholic anti-secession leader Paul Mardan and Saxmereans for Christian Social Concern. The party advocates a "common sense" economic policy of regulated capitalism and growth combined with moderate social spending. It is staunchly opposed to the Order of the Invisible Hand and Knootian intervention in the Confederation. However, it believes that the best way to counter both influences is by remaining within the Confederation and fighting the Order through a vigorous public dialogue.||60|
Other Key Officials
Grand Chamberlain: Sir Alec Nugent
Catholic Archbishop of Umbra: Gregory Cardinal Thrain
Catholic Archbishop of Cambera: Archbishop Patrick Kiernan
Catholic Bishop of Galloway: Bishop John Ireton
Chairman of Saxmereans for Christian Social Concern: Marty Trundlemann
President of the Saxmerean Confederation of Trade Unions: Colin Hannigan
Paul Mardan, businessman, St. Xavier Parish lay leader and leader of the anti-secession movement.