Regency Characters, Modern Players
In an effort to make writing character histories easier, the Yours, Etc. setting mirrors most of real world history. However, to make the game inclusive and welcoming to all people, we've made some alterations to history. Those changes are outlined briefly here, along with some major events that characters in this setting would know, so that everyone can easily reference a baseline and not need to be historians on the topic.
Key Historical Changes to the Yours, Etc. Setting
People of all gender identities and sexual orientations have been accepted as legitimate persons and treated equal in law and Society where otherwise not infringed upon by religion, politics, or nationality. The strictest expectations of etiquette and courtship are applied universally in England regardless of gender or orientation.
Slavery ends, worldwide, by 1741; due largely to organized and successful riots by enslaved peoples throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, with Haiti emerging as a maritime power.
Colonisation outside of Europe has largely failed and proven unprofitable for a variety of reasons. What remains of the effort are some coastal enclaves or mercantile districts.
The United States of America does not exist as we think of it today. The British hold the ports of Boston, Norfolk, and Charleston. The Dutch hold the port of New Amsterdam (New York), while France administers New Orleans. Finally, the Spanish maintain control over St. Augustine. Asian enclaves are seen in Goa (Portuguese), Mumbai/Bombay (British), and Java (Dutch). China tolerates Europeans in Shanghai.
The British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company are little more than moderately successful mercantile companies.
In 1687, Every form of non-Christian religious expression was legalised throughout Great Britain and its possessions and enclaves. However, Catholics and Dissenters (Christians who do not practice Anglicanism/Church of England) are barred from Parliament, the military, and the most prestigious colleges. (This was a reaction to having successfully defended the Anglican church and unseat a Catholic monarch)
The French Blockade is very ineffectual at keeping out trade to Great Britain. Indeed, French Fashion has filtered into British Society through allied states and via successful smuggling.
London 1813 & Beyond ...
Great Britain and Napoleonic France are too intimately intertwined to speak of separately. Yet, in order to look at Napoleon Bonaparte himself, we must go back 24 years to the French Revolution. The causes of the French Revolution stemmed from a variety of factors: to begin with, there were significant losses in income as colonialism faltered and ultimately was abandoned. Haitian and Spanish piracy, mass crop failures, and having the largest population in continental Europe drove the nation into bankruptcy. Combined with the Enlightenment, the burgeoning bourgeois class, and a peasantry that was not content to uphold feudalism, the Revolution of 1789 was inevitable.
At first, many French nobles supported revolution. The ideas of the Enlightenment were popular, and for the first time in their history, the Crown had begun to tax them. Twenty three years ago the French nobility was systematically stripped of its many privileges, rights, and boons during the summer of 1790 in a series of legislations that culminated in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. The last stroke of this document abolished the hereditary aristocracy of France.
Twenty years ago saw a bloody turn in the new French revolutionary government: the Reign of Terror. Considered the bloodiest span of recent times, it bore witness to the often senseless execution of at least 50,000 souls; 1,200 of which were noble born. Initially spurred by a counter-rebellion in the south, of wealthier and more successful peasants and nobles who did not suffer as their northern counterparts, fears of treason ran rampant. Revolutionary tribunals oversaw trials for often vague crimes with little to no evidence. Defendants were prohibited from presenting evidence or witnesses in support of their innocence. Finally, with the French prisons being beyond capacity, tribunals were only allowed to acquit or sentence to death.
Fourteen years ago, General Napoleon Bonaparte, with the aid of his brother, Lucien, overthrew the revolutionary government (thus ending the French Revolution); the Consulate which replaced it, was little more than a precursor to his imperial intentions. The period saw many battlefield successes that led to his growing legend and ambition. Five years after the coup that ended the revolution, Napoleon crowned himself as the Emperor at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
The Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Austerlitz, both occurring towards the end of 1805 were world-changing battles. Trafalgar saw the British victory at sea against Napoleon’s forces, thus preventing a land invasion. Austerlitz, however, ended the Holy Roman Empire and in its wake saw the puppet government, the Confederation of the Rhine, replace it. As a result of both this setback (Trafalgar) and this victory (Austerlitz), Napoleon had the ability to institute economic warfare on Great Britain in the Continental System. This ploy saw the closure of every European port to trade with Great Britain. The French blockade of Great Britain is, thankfully, ineffectual, and our nation is still able to trade with allies elsewhere in the world.
The Peninsular War started six years ago and continues to present day with Spain and France invading Portugal. Not long after, Napoleon began occupying Spain as well, forcing the abdication of the Spanish monarchs and beginning his campaign to install his brother Joseph as King of Spain. Great Britain and Portugal eventually came to support the besieged Spanish government operating out of the port city of Cádiz.
Five years ago, Napoleon recognized the ‘Nobility of Empire’, wherein he recreated the French nobility and began to distribute new titles. In real history, this was a far more complex and nuanced issue. In the Yours Etc setting, Napoleon pointedly ignores the claims of nobility who have failed to swear fealty to him. (Effectively, we are ensuring that French noble characters have every reason to be opposed to Napoleon)
Roughly three years ago, Russia quits the Continental System and allied itself with Great Britain and her allies. Their exit prompted Napoleon to invade in the summer of 1812. Although information and reports conflict, it is clear by the winter of 1813, Napoleon retreated. Even the most conservative estimates suggest he has lost a significant force. This is where we find ourselves today.
25 Years of French History...
Outside England & Europe
The Black Death transformed Europe. After so much human loss, there was a vast shortage of skilled workers. The surviving guilds began to seek ways to acquire skill sets and techniques that would make them superior to their regional rivals. Often through idea exchanges, apprentice swaps, and, not infrequently, outright theft. The principal avenue of economic innovation became the acquisition of ideas more than goods. The guilds focused on what someone could do for them rather than what materials they could acquire. Valuing talent led to a slowly prevailing attitude that a person’s intellectual abilities matter much more than their physical traits.
After a century or so of pursuing each other’s talents across Europe and the guilds beginning to turn into corporations, innovation stagnated. Training for specific techniques became entrenched in exclusivity deals. Weavers in Leeds might have a relationship with weavers in Milan, each jealously guarding access to the other’s skills from the weavers of, say, Bristol and Venice. This situation might have led to a complete halt of European growth if not for discovering then-unknown lands and peoples across the ocean. Eager to acquire new methods and materials, nations with the wherewithal did the most logical thing they could: they went to the Americas and Africa to conquer and colonize.
The initial advances away from Europe were not “colonies” in the traditional sense; they existed to make profits, not permanent homes. The Virginia colony was typical - mostly rugged types or minor criminals, many of them traders or trappers, and very few families. The individual objective was to stay a few years, make as much money as they could, and then return home to be replaced by another just like them. Eventually, conditions in Europe made people who desired land seek it elsewhere, and settlers came to stay and build permanent colonies. Where these colonies came into contact with native populations, the Europeans - through trade and treaty, but also by arms - leveraged their way into dominance.
In Asia, the Europeans never quite got established. The Mughal Empire was strong and wealthy on the Indian subcontinent, as were the princely states that existed beside them. Grudgingly, the Portuguese set up settlements at Goa. At the same time, the British were limited mainly to Mumbai (which they promptly renamed Bombay, for reasons unknown). The British East India Company managed a tidy profit off South Asia's tea and textile trades, but still, it is not much more than a successful mercantile company. Ming and later Qing rulers in China kept European presence limited to the trade districts of Shanghai. The Dutch East India Company managed to keep an outpost on Java but never realized more than modest profit from the spice trade.
The scourge of chattel slavery reared its ugly head via the Atlantic triangle trade in the 16th and17th centuries, though only in relatively modest numbers. A 1709 revolt of enslaved peoples turned into a revolution in the French colony of Saint Domingue, giving birth to the nation of Haiti. Spurred on by the Haitians, colonial lands across South and Central America threw off what little control the Europeans retained. Now, a moderate power, Haiti and a loose confederation of island states control the Caribbean through naval strength. Their merchants appear at ports across the Atlantic.
Fully expelled from New Spain and Brazil, Spain and Portugal began intercepting vessels trafficking humans from Africa, especially British ones. Ostensibly this was from an egalitarian stance against the immorality of slavery. Still, behind the posturing, it was apparent the Iberian nations were cutting off a means for their competitors to keep up operations in the 'New World'. Regardless, between the constant raiding on the sea and near-universal rebellion in the colonies, chattel slavery effectively ceased to exist by 1730 and was struck down legally in 1741 (Belgium, the final holdout, finally outlawed slavery after losing their last outpost in the Congo).
European colonialism in Africa and the Americas eventually took shape similar to what the Ottoman Empire did in its conquered territories - the millet system; religious and cultural groupings - “millets” - were considered as collectives and largely left to govern themselves, so long as the community met their obligations as a whole. Thus, the British would have dealings with Iroquois (for example) through a handful of their leaders and be unconcerned with the day-to-day affairs of any given settlement.
The millet system functioned well for bringing resources - both goods and skills - out of the colonies and into Europe. Colonized regions were not conquered and occupied but instead effectively placed at the short end of a bad treaty, unable to do much about the European presence, yet not severely affected by it, at least on average. This status quo would shift swiftly and decisively, though, from an unexpected quarter: disease.
Unaccustomed to the illnesses of sub-Saharan Africa and the New World, the European colonizers died in huge percentages with any significant outbreak. Driving deeper into these lands would be impossible. Over a relatively short time, Europeans collapsed back to coastal enclaves where they could both resupply quickly and keep a toehold in the economic benefits of these “new” lands. In North America, the British would hold on in Boston, Norfolk, and Charleston; the Dutch at New Amsterdam; France in New Orleans; and the Spanish at St Augustine.