History of Knootoss
The history of Knootoss is closely connected to the history of the Real Life Netherlands and the history of the Western Atlantic region. This history can broadly be divided into four eras: the era before Knootoss was an independent state, the emergence of the United Provinces of Knootoss as an independent power, the struggle with modernisation during the time of the Knootian Republic and the eventual formation of the Dutch Democratic Republic of Knootoss.
When the first humans arrived in Knootoss, the area had a tundra climate with scarce vegetation. The people survived as hunter-gatherers, taking up agriculture somewhere around 5000 BC, but only in the very south of the country. The Iron Age brought prosperity to the region, and there is even evidence of the use of advanced forging techniques. Germanic tribes settled in the north around 600 BC, while Celtic tribes settled the south. Around 1000 AD, farmers began purchasing the swampy land in the west of the country, draining it and cultivating it. The uninhabited territory was settled in only a few generations, as the farmers built independent farms that were not part of villages. This area became known as 'Holland' in the 12th century.
There were several agricultural developments that resulted in an increase in production, especially food production. The economy started to develop at a fast pace, and the higher productivity allowed workers to farm more land or to become tradesmen. Guilds were established and markets developed as production exceeded local needs. Also, the introduction of currency made trading a much easier affair than it had been before. Existing towns grew and new towns sprang into existence around monasteries and castles, and a mercantile middle class began to develop in these urban areas. Commerce and town development increased as the population grew. Cities arose and flourished, particularly in the south.
As the cities grew in wealth and power, they started to buy certain privileges for themselves from the sovereign, including city rights, the right to self-government and the right to pass laws. In practice, this meant that the wealthiest cities became quasi-independent republics in their own right. In addition to the growing independence of the towns, local rulers turned their counties and duchies into private kingdoms and felt little sense of obligation to the emperor who governed over large parts of the nation in name only. Large parts of present-day Knootoss were governed by the Count of Holland, the Duke of Gelre, the Duke of Brabant and the Bishop of Utrecht. Friesland and Groningen in the north maintained their independence and were governed by the lower nobility.
The various feudal states were in a state of almost continual war. Gelre and Holland fought for control of Utrecht. Utrecht, whose bishop had in 1000 ruled over half of what is today Knootoss, was marginalised as it experienced continuing difficulty in electing new bishops. At the same time, the dynasties of neighbouring states were more stable. Groningen, Drenthe and most of Gelre, which used to be part of Utrecht, became independent. Brabant tried to conquer its neighbours, but was not successful. Holland also tried to assert itself in Zeeland and Friesland, but its attempts failed. Friesland in the north continued to maintain its independence during this time. It had its own institutions (collectively called the "Frisian freedom") and resented the imposition of the feudal system and the patriciate found in other towns. The Frisian battle cry was "better dead than a slave". In 1498, they lost their independence when they were defeated by a mercenary army. Eventually, all of the cities and noble fiefs came under the dominion of Lavenrunz.
Toward the end of the Middle Ages, many of the large cities had bought or won charters giving them many rights of freedom. When Karl Ludwig I came to the throne of Lavenrunz he disregarded these charters. When Calvinism spread over the United Provinces of Knootoss he introduced the Inquisition and tried to root it out. Heinrich VII of Lavenrunz increased the persecution. The people rebelled in 1566 and the Duke of Carlsbad was sent into the country to put down the rebellion. In 1581, the provinces signed the Knootian Declaration of Independence and elected William of Chamaven as their leader. The war lasted for forty years, with varied fortunes. The Prince of Chamaven fell in battle in 1586, but the struggle went on under his second son, Prince Maurice, a boy of seventeen. Other countries also came to their aid, such as rebel groups from Der Angst who were also under Catholic Dominion rule at the time. Finally in 1608 a truce was established, ending in the acknowledgement of the provinces as one of the provisions of the Treaty of Hofburg.
|William||Maurice||Hugo||Gozewijn||Jan I||Jan II||Jan III|
Golden Agerepublic, the United Provinces of Knootoss, was a highly decentralised polity. Each northern province had its own government and army. The Catholic provinces in the south, meanwhile, were governed colonies. The Staten-Generaal, which consisted of representatives of each of the provinces, was seated in The Hague but Amsterdam was the capital. Each province (barring the southern, Catholic provinces of Limburg and Brabant) was governed by the so-called 'Provincial States' and a Stadtholder. In theory, the stadtholders were elected officials subordinate to the Staten. However the heads of the House of Chamaven were consistently chosen as stadtholders of most of the provinces. There was a constant power struggle between the supporters of the stadtholders, and the mercantile elite which wanted more power for the states (and for themselves). Thus, a stadtholder's power in practice depended on his personal qualities of leadership, even if the office eventually became a hereditary post of the House of Chamaven.
Throughout the 1600s trade, science, and art in Knootoss were among the most acclaimed in the world. The Knootians started large-scale overseas trade in this period — hunting whales in the North Sea, trading spices in Tanah Burung (later Knootian East Indies), and starting various colonies in what are nowadays New York and Jersey and Alcona and Hubris, as well as a few other places. In 1602 the Knootian East India Company had been founded. This company fought for a Knootian monopoly on trade with Tanah Burung, importing spices in bulk at huge profits and becoming one of the world's largest commercial enterprises of the 17th century. The Knootians were also dominant in trade between other nations as Knootian traders shipped famous wine from Dominion to all nations of the world, including Sisgardia, returning with metals, diamonds, emeralds, and very fine jewelry from Tarasovka as well as grain from Der Angst.
Dependence on international commerce and good foreign relations forced a certain tolerance of different cultures, religions and ideas. Protestant reformists stressed the importance of individual conscience, rejecting central dogmas and a fixed clerical hierarchy to enforce them. This made it easy for traders and refugees to settle. Scientists and other thinkers travelled to the United Provinces, leading to the refinement international laws and commercial law. Hydraulic engineers gained important victories in the battle against the sea by converting several large lakes into polders. Book publishers flourished, and many books about religion, philosophy and science that might have been deemed controversial abroad were printed in Knootoss and secretly exported to other countries.
Artists, deprived of the church and the nobility as major patrons, turned to the newly emerging merchant class instead, influencing the themes they depicted and their pictorial style. Many of the greatest painters were inspired and influenced, as least during their formative years, by Dominion paintings. Copies of Dominion masterpieces circulated and suggested certain compositional schemes. Also treatment of light, in which Knootian painters would later become absolute masters themselves, could partly be traced back to Dominion predecessors. Some Knootian painters also travelled to the Dominion to make their own observations. Baroque did not gain much influence as its exuberance did not fit the austerity of the largely Dutch Reformed population, and paintings often had a moralistic message hidden under the surface.
By the 1700s, social status in the United Provinces was largely determined by income. Social classes still existed, but the nobility had sold out most of its privileges to cities, where merchants and their money were dominant. The clergy did not have much worldly influence either. The Catholic Church was more or less oppressed since the onset of war with Lavenrunz, and young Protestant churches were divided amongst themselves. Wealthy merchants bought themselves noble titles, and aristocrats mixed with members from other classes in order to be able to support themselves as they saw fit. They married their daughters to wealthy merchants, became traders themselves or took up public or military office to earn a salary.
The Silver Age saw bitter controversies between strict Calvinists and more permissive Protestants. The resulting quarrels split the country and, in the end, the sheer number of reformist branches may well have worked as an antidote to intolerance. Humanism also gained a firm foothold in this period. Tolerance was not so easy to uphold towards Catholics, but hostile inclinations could be overcome by money, as Catholics could buy the privilege to hold ceremonies. The idea of Catholics holding public offices were out of the question, however, and the government of the Provinces remained an exclusively Protestant affair..
The Second War of Insolence (1713-1715) proved that Knootian naval power was declining. Even as the nation was torn apart by internal power struggles, its international standing waned. Conflicts erupted between the mercantile oligarchy running the Knootian East India Company and those loyal to the Prince of Chamaven. Even as other states modernised, the United Provinces remained a collection of conflicting interests and semi-sovereign provinces resting comfortably on the laurels of past glories. Trade monopolies slipped away from the fingers of the East India Company, and the princely armies were in a dismal state as the cities refused to provide soldiers for a common army commanded by the prince.
Rule of the Stewards
The year 1810 saw the return of Prince Marc-Alexander of Chamaven to Knootoss. With popular opinion on the side of the House of Chamaven, the decimated, impoverished mercantile elite was in no position to resist his claim to the title of ‘Steward’ of all the provinces. The first Steward ruled like a liberal autocrat, centralising power and organising a strong national government. The Staten-Generaal was reduced to a mere advisory body. Marc-Alexander was a believer in unfettered entrepreneurship, as well as at least some of the enlightenment ideas. Liberals were appointed in important government posts, free trade was restored, a constitution was ratified and plans were drawn up for a more systematic exploitation of the Knootian East Indies.
The death of Marc-Alexander saw Steward Maurice of Chamaven gain power. The young and devout Maurice was much more conservative then his father, and no more reforms were passed. The political landscape during his reign was dominated by the Progressive Democratic League (a party wanting more reforms) and the Conservatives. Many of these conservatives had been considered progressive under the rule of Marc-Alexander, but they were now satisfied with the state of affairs. These conservatives maintained a firm grip on the nations administration, with liberals in the opposition. A third force emerged on the political landscape. The Catholic party presented a united front for equal representation, their own religious schools and the re-establishing of the Papal hierarchy in the Republic/ The Catholic Party favoured neither liberalism nor conservatism, but only sought to work together with whoever would help them with these goals.
The unrest of 1848 sparked a mood of revolution. The Republic – squashed between the sources of unrest – was no exception. Even as the elites feared overspill across the borders, liberals petitioned for reform. Change came when, on a warm summer day, the carriage of the Steward was stopped by a group of angry farmers in Gelre. Maurice and his wife were forced to spend an entire afternoon on a farm in captivity, listening to the grievances of the farmers before being released without incident. The Steward realised that things had to change now that his personal safety could not be guaranteed even in his own lands. The liberal Johan Rudolf Vogels was appointed as the head of a committee that was to write a new constitution.
The new constitution severely limited the power of the Steward and introduced elections for all levels of government. It also entitled more powers to provincial and local councils as well as many other institutional reforms. Other articles favoured the Catholics, such as an article regarding the separation of church and state, and the abolishment of the demand that the Steward had to be of the Dutch Reformed religion. New elections gave the Progressive Democratic League a near-majority in the Staten Generaal, and a government was formed with Liberal and Catholic ministers. Mr. J.R. Vogels was reluctantly appointed by the Steward as Prime Minister and minister of Internal Affairs. Outmatched, the conservative opposition and the Steward did very little to oppose the passing of the new laws.
One of the desired reforms was the restoration of the Papal hierarchy. Marc-Alexander had issued an edict that allowed the appointment of two Catholic bishops in Knootoss, provided that they swore an oath uphold the laws of the state. This edict had never been enforced, due to heavy Protestant resistance, which his devout son Steward Maurice had gladly listened to. In 1851, the church cautiously inquired if the government considered the edict to be binding under the new constitution. The minister answered in the affirmative, even urging the church to make haste because a future government might be less accommodating.
In March of 1853 Papal letters were issued, introducing four new Bishops and an Archbishop for the new hierarchy in the Knootian Republic. These letters did not require the swearing of an oath, and referred to the appointments as a restoration of the hierarchy as it existed under the rule of the Lavenrunzian Emperors. The letters further interpreted the restoration of the hierarchy as Knootian recognition of the Pope as the head of the church. When those letters found their way to the press, it caused a huge uproar. Protestant communities petitioned the government and the Steward to prevent the restoration from happening, arguing that it was a violation of the constitution.
The liberals had grown overconfident, defying both the Steward and public opinion. Vogels and his ministers initially responded indifferently to the protests, claiming it the right of the Pope to appoint whoever he wanted, as it was an internal matter of the church. The Steward was of a different opinion, and in private the two men clashed bitterly over the matter. When Maurice announced that he would be accepting the petitions in person at a public meeting , Vogels tried to prescribe how Maurice was to respond when accepting the petitions. The ministers jointly presented the Steward with a speech that had been written for him. The Steward did things his own way, and at the meeting in Amsterdam he proclaimed his complete agreement with the petitioners. The government resigned three days later, and conservatives were appointed in their place. The election that followed saw extreme bitterness on both sides of the divide. Vehement personal attacks made mutual mistrust evident more than ever. The Progressive Democratic League was decimated and condemned to a frustrated role in the opposition for duration of the second Stewards rule.
New reactionary legislation imposed restrictions on Catholic worship, restricting the ringing of their church bells on Sunday and banning the appointments of foreigners to church functions. While the more moderate conservatives tried to get past the events of April 1853, the alliance between Catholics and liberals was stronger then ever. They fulminated against the new regime in no less then three national newspapers that had been founded specifically with the aim of opposing the new government. While Vogels had been voted down in all the protestant districts where he had been a candidate, he was lovingly re-elected by the people of Maastricht and Breda in the Catholic south.
The Lady Protector
Maurice died peacefully in The Hague in 1862, leaving only a single heir: his daughter Amalia. The new “lady-protector” of Knootoss had a fragile build, a snow-white face and long black hair, standing in stark contrast with her father and grandfather. Amalia spent most of her time in Huis ten Bosch Palace, never dabbling in the affairs of politics. Instead she chose to travel, attending all the Royal balls and ceremonies one could think of. It was during one of these balls, the Winter ball in Hofburg, that she met Andrew Priestus, the eldest son and heir-apparent to the King of Iesus Christi. The pair fell in love, and their affair continued in secret, with Amalia spending all seasons of the year in the Royal Palace in St. Augustine.
The absence of ‘the little princess’ allowed the Staten-Generaal to fill the the power vacuum. The Progressive Democratic League and the Catholics recovered from the 1853 blow, and laws to reverse the anti-Catholic measures of Maurice were passed easily, and with the full support of Amalia, who was under the sway of her Iesus lover. Vogels, now in his seventies and of much milder character, returned to The Hague to head a second government bearing his name. A new colonial policy recognised an ‘eereschuld’ or ‘responsibility of honour’ towards the Burungi people; to guide them to prosperity instead of thinking of their lands as a freely exploitable resource. State-funded schools were founded and roads were built with Knootian money, using Burungi forced labour. The Knootian East Indian markets were opened to private entrepreneurs. Domestic reforms included programmes against extreme poverty, an ambitious railroad building programme, and the extension of voting rights to most of the working class. Industrialisation took off, and the 1860s became a decade of rapid economic growth.
In 1866, Amalia announced her intention to marry Andrew and, to this end, convert to Catholicism. This would unite the crown of Iesus with the fate of Knootoss. Prime Minister Vogels, remembering the April movement, was very concerned indeed. Clearly, he felt, she couldn’t marry the heir to the Royal throne. He proposed that she instead marry a duke from protestant Reichskamphen, these attempts were in vain. The couple was wedded in a majestic ceremony in Iesus Christi – without a representation of the Knootian government or the Staten-Generaal. The protestant part of nation was horrified, and the ink of the headlines was dipped in blood. According to The Batavian Courier, Amalia was betraying all generations of her line before her, as well as the nation she had sworn to protect and the Protestant cause itself. These feelings were echoed in the Staten-Generaal and in other protestant nations.
After the wedding, Amalia made one last fateful visit to Knootoss. When her ship arrived in the harbour of Amsterdam, the princess and her guards were overcome by an angry mob, who staged a public lynching in the city centre. As news of the lynching spread, feelings of shock and shame reverberated around the nation. The Home Guard was sent in to clear Amsterdam of all unrest, and field artillery could be heard in the city during the next twenty-four hours. Ultimately, Dam square was retaken and twenty-three men where found guilty and executed. Over 200 people – many of whom where innocent – had perished in attempts to secure the city.
The grieving family of the groom claimed that, in death, this wedding united the Crowns of both noble Houses. This briefly sparked a war over the question of whom now possessed sovereignty over the Republic. (The States-General maintained it had was now the legally sovereign institution, whereas the Iesus family claimed its inheritance.) The Knootian War of Succession lasted for forty-six days, and the only real military engagement was a small naval battle off the coast of Tiga Burung, when the Brunhilde stumbled into the unescorted Knootian merchant vessel Zeebrugge, which was engaged and sunk.
The Prime Minister seized the negotiations between the Catholic empires and the Knootian Republic as an opportunity to pass a new Act of Exclusion. It was resolved that no new Steward would be appointed in the Republic, and that Knootoss would be an independent stated, with the Staten-Generaal as a sovereign legislature. In exchange, the House of Priestus received the the crown and the other ceremonial items of the House of Chamaven.
While the Knootian War of Succession had seen the Holy Empire of Excalbia allied with Knootoss to defend the Protestant nation against the Catholic Empires, the declaration of a Knootian Republic and the new Act of Exclusion led to Excalbia feeling that it had been deceived into entering the war. Relations deteriorated, and eventually the Excalbia dispatched its newly constructed fleet of steam-powered ironclad warships to the Knootian coast and some of its far-flung colonial holdings, during the Knootian-Excalbian War of 1874. This war ended as sovereignty over Knootian settlements in the Excalbian Isles was transferred to the Confederation and Excalbia.
The closing decades of the nineteenth century saw Knootoss transition into the age of modern, representative democracy. The Staten-Generaal was reformed by liberal majority governments into a unicameral parliament with universal suffrage. In 1873, the death penalty was abolished. Lacking a common foe, the liberal-catholic alliance crumbled, and liberals pushed trough non-denominational schools, with compulsory attendance. This effectively rooted out church-organised schooling. Anticlericalism reared its ugly head as well, and Knootian representation to the Vatican was withdrawn in 1879.
The Great War
As World War I in the Western Atlantic broke out, Knootoss found itself in a position where it was squarely between two warring great powers, and on the edge of the war zone itself. The Central Powers chose to conserve Knootian neutrality because Knootoss supplied many goods through the port of Rotterdam. Other countries had an interest in keeping the others out of Knootoss, so that no one's interests could be taken away or be changed.
In the months immediately following the war, Knootoss was flooded by refugees. Military refugees were accommodated in internment camps, in accordance with international agreements. Conscription was introduced in the face of harsh criticism from the opposition parties. Food shortages were extensive due to the control that the belligerents exercised over the Knootians. As a result of an allied blockade, the price of potatoes rose sharply. A big problem was smuggling to the Central Powers. The Allies demanded that the Knootians stop the smuggling, and the government took measures to remain neutral. The government placed many cities under 'state of siege', and a five-kilometre zone was created by the government along the border. In that zone, goods could only be moved on main roads with a permit.
In 1918, there was an attempt at a socialist revolution, which became known as 'red week'. During this week, communists and social democrats split over ideological issues, and the revolutionary effort ended up being poorly organised. Protestant and Roman Catholic counter-revolutionary forces were far more effective, preventing the would-be revolutionaries from gaining access to weapons, and resolving the "revolution" with very little violence. Support for the socialist cause collapsed, as Knootians rallied behind "patriotic" ideals.
- Main article: Tanah Burung Independence
At the dawn of the 20th century, the Burungi independence movement began to gain momentum. In Knootoss, the idea that Tanah Burung would become an independent state was thought of as preposterous. There was a dim notion that Tanah Burung could get its own position within a Knootian Federation, as evidenced by a Prime Ministerial address in 1931, which considered the possibility of of "a people growing up slowly", and talked about the responsibility of the Knootian Republic to nurture the people of the East Indies to adulthood "as is the responsibility of a good parent towards its children." A Volksraad for the East Indies, which included native representatives, was founded.
After decades of growing unrest, the flag of independence was finally raised in the capital Nieuw Hoorn and in the Matebian mountains. Keeping with that idea of a slow pace towards more independence, the Knootians believed that order had to be restored. The army of the Knootians was primarily composed of native fighters armed, trained and led by Knootian officers. Where possible, local nobility had been drafted to serve a ceremonial leadership role. Now, war volunteers were drafted with the slogan: “See the world, pack for the Knootian East Indies.” After about a year of chaos in the colony, fresh Knootian troops arrived in the Emerald Heights region, landing on the island of Tiga Burung to engage the fledgling independence movement.
To appease the natives, the Knootian governor-general signed a treaty with the loyalist nobility that declared an armistice and promising a Knootian Federation in a decade. Playing the nobility and the tribes against each other had always maintained Knootian hegemony in the region and this time, the governor-general believed, would be no different. Unfortunately for him, the vast majority of the population desired full independence. New ideologies were sweeping the nation - ironically often spread by Burungi’s who had been educated at Knootian universities. Nationalism, socialism and communism inspired the resistance to go on regardless of the wishes of old, artificially propped-up, nobility. The revolution gained the support of the Liurai of Loro Sae and the Sultan of Burung Paradis, both of whom actively sabotaged the treaty, providing the rebels with the breathing space they needed to garner strength. Despite reactionary protests in Knootoss, the armistice was signed in the palace district of Nieuw Hoorn, in a ceremony involving many ancient and complicated Burungi diplomatic rituals.
The armistice quickly became a farce, as lone plantations and warehouses holding spices were targeted by the rebels. A military campaign was mounted to protect these economic interests, leading to a wild jungle-campaign which lasted one long summer. Officially it was downplayed as a "police action" supported by military assets, though in truth it involved more than 124,000 soldiers under the command of General Webermann.
While the aim of the police action was merely to secure economic interests and stop the attacks, General Webermann advocated extensive actions to eliminate the rebel power base. Politicians disagreed and his plan was scuttled. The police action achieved security for Knootian economic interests with a limited loss of life, but failed to re-establish order. It left an enormous army patrolling Tanah Burung, led by frustrated commanders who felt that the job had not been finished. The conservatives in parliament put strong pressure on the government, but the liberal-socialist coalition government dithered. The government was violently divided over the issue and feared that the United Nations and neighbouring nations might sympathise with the rebels, if an all-out war was undertaken.
One year after the first police action, a communist insurrection broke out in Loro Sae, spreading to Burung Paradis. The communists declared independence and formed a 'Peoples Government'. Fearing that communist and socialist countries might recognise this independent nation, all doubts about the need for decisive military action vanished.
The primary military objective, retaking New Hoorn, was accomplished quickly. Communist leaders were handed over to loyalist members of the nobility, and executed on the main square. But the guerilla raged on. Considerable losses were suffered by the Knootians, and slowly but surely the campaign turned into a military and political catastrophe. Instead of gaining international support for the brave fight against communism, the world was treated to the sight of burning villages and piles of corpses.
Public support turned against the war and the government, critically weakening the liberal party. Prime Minister Oud, a politically broken man haunted by images of mass graves and atrocities, was getting the message. One more bloody year, the Knootian East Indian army struggled to restore order in its colony, finding it impossible to guard all the villages and jungle roads. Oud finally made the painful decision to abandon the Knootian East Indies altogether, allowing Tanah Burung to declare independence. Knootoss as colonial world power was finished, but so was the most extensive military operation which that country had, until that point, ever undertaken.
Are we dealing in a credible way with the liberating message of the gospel if a raised finger is preached rather than an outstretched hand; if no room but exclusion is offered to unmarried couples, divorced people, homosexuals, married priests and women?
—A progressive Knootian Catholic, during the 1985 Papal Visit
The defeat in Tanah Burung and the end of colonialism shook the Christians of Knootoss awake from their complacency, greatly influencing the History of religion in Knootoss and stirring modernisation. The Catholic bishops were quick to understand people's need to think for themselves, with similar developments taking place in Protestant churches. During the 1960s, several bishops encouraged the idea of a church based on authority from within rather than imposed from without. This liberalization was resisted by Rome. Suddenly, Knootian Catholics found themselves noted for their progressiveness.
During the 1970s, the appointment of conservative bishops antagonised the Catholics greatly, creating a rift within the Catholic community. Discussion groups were formed in almost every community, debating all kinds of issues, including the Resurrection and the papacy itself. This prompted accusations of heresy from more conservative nations, and several high-profile Catholic thinkers were called to the Vatican to account for their writings and teachings. The Catholic Church in Knootoss rebelled, almost in a state of schism, with many having come to regard the Vatican and the papacy with suspicion. While many remained nominally Catholic, they had come to reject many of the Church's traditional teachings on issues such as contraception and homosexuality.
A papal visit to Knootoss in 1985 was marked by low crowd turnouts, small-scale rioting and the creation of a group which wanted to show the 'other face' of the Roman Catholic Church. Although the papal visit was planned down to the most minute detail, a member of the movement ruffled some feathers with a controversial speech she gave in the presence of the Pope where she asked him: Are we dealing in a credible way with the liberating message of the gospel if a raised finger is preached rather than an outstretched hand; if no room but exclusion is offered to unmarried couples, divorced people, homosexuals, married priests and women?
The pope did not respond substantively to the points she raised, but did thank her for her frankness. Despite the Papal visit and a special Synod, there was to be no return to the 'good old days'. Like the rest of society, Catholics now insisted on participation and discussion. They wanted to play their part in church affairs and base their understanding of faith no longer on church authorities, but on personal conviction and conscience. Many Catholics left the church or refused to go to Mass on Sundays. The participation of remaining Catholics in the life of the church remained high, however, and laypeople became generally well-educated and knowledgeable in their profession.
Dutch Democratic Republic
|Roel Vogels||Lousewies van der Zaan||Galadriël nos Círdan||Jan Willem Daatman||Femke Vologdov||Maurits Viljoen|
Knootian Green Party
The 1990s were a time of institutional and constitutional reform in Knootoss. Individualisation, democratisation and the emancipation of women and minorities had all conspired to make the old institutional structures of the Knootian Republic seem outdated. The answer was reform, starting with a new name for the country: the Dutch Democratic Republic. The new prefix was chosen to emphasise the quintessentially "Dutch" nature of the country, as well as its new commitment to more direct democracy. The federal idea was revived as well, and the Statute of the Knootian Federation was drawn up to embed involvement in Colombia into a constitutional framework.
The new era came to be defined by Roel Vogels, an atheist, liberal, gay Prime Minister who claimed credit for establishing or securing many socially libertarian policies. Soft drugs, prostitution and pornography were legalised and same-sex marriages were introduced. At the same time, a coalition dominated by the liberals and supported by the conservatives promoted an agenda of economic growth in the private sector, lower taxes and a balanced budget.
A new foreign policy was designed to promote Knootoss as a nation that is active in international affairs, while promoting liberal Knootian values. The country joined the World Business Organization and the South Atlantic Treaty Organization, getting caught up in their struggles against the Reich, which by now included Iesus Christi, and the Coalition of Anti-Capitalist Economies. As a deterrent against these perceived threats, Knootoss tested a nuclear weapon on March 4 1990, becoming a nuclear power . The nation also joined the fledgling United Nations, attempting a few unsuccessful reforms, such as a world-wide ban on capital punishment.
Conservative gains during the 1993 elections saw the coalition government take a more right-wing bent. Neoliberal, pro-business policies became the main focus of the administration. CACE came to be seen as the main enemy of Knootoss and its new allies. In the end, though, it was fascism that turned out to be the bigger threat. The 1997 elections were defrauded by the GDODAD, which abused lax campaign laws to propel a fringe candidate, Dick Tator, to the forefront of Knootian politics. An election campaign that was fraught by ethnic tensions between Elves and Humans saw the use of brutal intimidation tactics, including the assassination of an Elvish deputy minister.
- Main article: Shadow War
GDODAD intervention on behalf of Dick Tator marked the beginning of the Shadow War. Prime Minister Vogels was killed in parliament by Special Forces, having offered to be a hostage if the GDODAD would permit Members of Parliament to leave. Lousewies van der Zaan led a government in exile in Lavenrunz.
Van der Zaan Administration
As foreign forces withdrew from the Knootian mainland, the psyche of the nation had been damaged in several, contradictory ways that would reverberate in the decade to come. The nation had been left to feel critically undefended, translating into a wild search for foreign military allies and, later on, a political sentiment that demanded an ever-stronger Knootian Defence Force. A nation which had, until then, been largely pacific turned more militant. At the same time right-wing ideologies, and particularly the Conservative Party, had become highly suspect. A landslide for the left was inevitable.
Lousewies van der Zaan, returning from exile, grasped this new zeitgeist, and used it to mould her new administration. As a parliamentary leader of the SLP, she had been a largely uninspiring agent for various special interests: the education bureaucracy, the growing Information Technology industry and the anticlerical, anti-Catholic wing of her party. As Prime Minister, she did indeed promote these causes. But she will always be remembered for her attempts to make the Knootian shift to the political left a permanent affair.
A liberal/green coalition government set about the task of rebuilding the damaged areas in The Hague at a frantic base, using the material destruction to build new, larger "super ministries". Welfare reforms proved to be both popular and successful, rapidly expanding Knootoss' social net in a relatively short period of time. The new education, social and environmental programmes were paid for by undoing many of the Vogels tax cuts, as well introducing a marginal top rate of 69% in income tax for the rich. Defence spending was cut. The money, van der Zaan proclaimed, was needed to make Knootoss a sustainable society.
Some of the reforms attempted by the left-wing government failed. Attempts to get serious about environmental legislation met with opposition from the business community, and the opportunity to reverse a trend of ever-increasing air and water pollution in Knootoss was missed. Efforts to ban corporate donations to political parties failed as well, leading to bitter accusations from the greens that the SLP was not serious about reform. Much political capital had to be spent in order to see down an SLP backbencher revolt, which attempted to see the Bible banned for inciting hatred against minorities.
Foreign policy proved to the bane of the van der Zaan administration. Would-be progressive allies of the Knootoss proved to be unreliable, while old allies such Menelmacar were being alienated. Attempts to introduce environmental concerns into the World Business Organization failed. Though they went into the 2001 election on a note of unity, the left-wing coalition was already beginning to fracture.
Foreign policy disasters continued to accrue: attempts to court the CACE ended with flat-out rejection, and a resumption of the earlier cold war posture. A diplomatic and intelligence fall-out surrounding wargames in Skargarden, a nation near the headquarters of the anti-capitalist coalition, with the CACE, was a low point. Knootian withdrawal from SATO over disagreements with Syskeyia and the subsequent joining of UnAPS, which was later abandoned as well, managed to destroy old alliances.
The SLP, wishing to distance itself from these failures, decided to heap the blame on the green deputy minister for Foreign Affairs. Seizing on a relatively small diplomatic incident, they voted against the government, forcing van der Zaan to replace the deputy minister with an ambitious conservative hawk, the elvish Galadriël Táralóm nos Círdan. SLP parliamentary cooperation with the opposition conservatives continued from then on, frustrating the agenda of the government. The marginal income tax rate was cut, as were corporate taxes, leading to rapid increases in the budget deficit. When Lousewies tried to stand for Prime Minister again, she was soundly defeated by the more charismatic Galadriël nos Círdan.
Nos Círdan Administration
Well I woke up one day, with an uncontrollable urge to get an MBA, a new-found hatred for the poor, and a burning desire to start a war.
So I went to my Doctor and said, 'What the heck is wrong with me?!' And he just smiled and said, 'Son, why don't you sign up for the SLP?'
—"I was a teenage conservative"
The election of 2003 formalised a new era of conservative confidence in Knootoss. Fielding an Elvish deputy minister as their candidate purged the conservatives of all past suspicions, clearing the way for a brand of politics associated with a new sect, the Order of the Invisible Hand. Small government rhetoric, privatisations, militarism and a tough-talking, no-nonsense foreign policy found were popular with many ordinary Knootians.
Taxes actually increased during the first years of the Nos Círdan Administration, in order to pay for huge defence outlays. Reversing a decade of spending cuts, Knootoss was launched into the top 10% of defence spending per capita in the world. The AIVD was made to report directly to the Prime Minister and saw its budget increased. The Ministry of Economic Affairs also got more sway over foreign policy, at the expense of the diplomats, by permitting the ministy to turn certain consulates into 'Economic Affairs embassies', and by giving the Ministry its own intelligence agency, the EIVD.
The new Prime Minister gained popularity by pulling out of the United Nations when that body passed The Law of the Sea, a resolution that imposed limits on how much Knootians would be allowed to fish. The UN became a favourite punching bag for the coalition, even leading to a ban on foreign aid to Member States during her second term.
Galadriël also launched the Knootian International Stabilisation Treaty, which proved to be popular at home as well as abroad. Freer trade and generous encouragement of big business investment stimulated short-term economic growth, reinforcing popularity of Free Market thinkers like those in the Order of the Invisible Hand. Her staunch defence of Elvish and more capitalist nations such as Menelmacar made her popular in elvish communities. The decision to support UnAPS militarily when it was attacked by Allanea, as well as the decision to leave UnAPS over charges that the alliance had grown to be imperialistic, were acclaimed as having been moral decisions. During the One Day War, elements of the Knootian Defence Force were sent to Mars in order to prevent Allanea from launching an offensive against Knootoss' Martian allies, triggering a Knootian-Allanean correspondence.
The rise of the Order of the Invisible Hand in Knootian society, precipitated a crisis with Excalbia and Pantocratoria over the influence of the Order in the the Confederation of Sovereign States, which prompted calls for secession by the State of Saxmere. Galadriël was thought to be sympathising with the Order. The defining, many say damning, event of the nos Círdan administration was the decision to use military action against Tanah Burung, in search of terrorists from the Rumbiak Brigades. One week before the elections in Knootoss, Galadriël was forced to sign a peace agreement and withdraw. Deeply unpopular because of the war, Galadriël only came in third during the the elections for the Prime Ministership, conceding the election to Jan Willem Daatman of the SLP.
Show business kept us all alive
After the tumultuous years of Galadriël, the new Knootian Prime Minister made a point of being as ordinary as possible. Moderate and married (to Irene Daatman), Jan Willem wanted to give Knootoss at least four years of stability. Like Galadriël before him, Daatman regarded himself as the personal representative of the people. "No one but the Prime Minister," he said once, "seems to be expected to look out for the general interests of the country." This translated into an above-average concern for the small problems of the common man. Rather than launching any big new ideas, the Daatman Administration worked to reduce unemployment and improve the quality of healthcare and public transport. Daatman's Grand Coalition of liberals, conservatives and greens continued to plod on after being re-elected, easily preventing the growing number of small parties from competing to get government. They were critics argued, five years of mind-numbing stability.
In response to the crisis in the Excalbian Isles, Daatman had resolved to play a constructive role in the development of the Western Atlantic region. The Treaty of Courtland provided for a conflict-resolution council, designed to prevent a crisis from reoccurring. Later on, Daatman pushed the Staten-Generaal to ratify the Treaty of Lyeithen as well, despite the Staten-Generaal's serious misgivings over some of its provisions. Aside from helping Pantocratoria fend off a minor Allanean incursion into the region, there were no foreign adventurers. In the absence of Knootian leadership, KIST slowly grew to be defunct.
In the end, it was religion that did Daatman in. A child abuse scandal in Pantocratoria made anti-Catholic sentiments in northern Knootoss much more salient. Renewed mistrust of the Roman Catholic church was reflected in a referendum where Knootians voted to make it a crime to operate ecclesiastical tribunals, as well as banning 36 Inquisitorial organisations. When an outplacement agency managed to get an ex-manager from the Global Hell Group crowned as King of the Polska rzczpolspolita, Knootians made jokes. Things got more serious when Daatman was seen to pray on television, raising suspicions that he had, himself, converted to the Roman Catholic faith. After coming under fire from his own party, Daatman was forced to call snap elections, and endorse his Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Femke Vologdov for the Prime Ministership.
Femke Vologdov oversaw the negotiation of the coalition accord reached by the Knootian Green Party, the Social-Liberal Party and the Catholic People's Party. She also escalated the countries' involvement in the Iesus Christi Civil War. Knootoss became an actively contributing member of the World Assembly, passing four resolutions and co-authoring two more.
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