Arthurista

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Commonwealth of Arthurista
Arthurista
[[File: |85px |alt= |Coat of arms of Arthurista]]
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Progredere ne Regredere
Anthem: I Vow To Thee
Capital
and largest city
Loweport
Official languages English, Tribal Arthuristan
Demonym Arthuristan
Government Parliamentary Democracy
 -  Lord/Lady Protector Gareth II
 -  Prime Minister Leanne Whittaker
Establishment
 -  As Protectorate of Arthurista 1070 
 -  As Commonwealth of Arthurista 1650 
Population
 -  January 2014 estimate 87,565,046
GDP (nominal) estimate
 -  Total $3.677 trillion
 -  Per capita $42,000
Currency Commonwealth Pound (£)
Time zone LST
Date format dd-mm-yyyy
Drives on the left

The Commonwealth of Arthurista (demonym: ‘Arthuristan’) is an island nation located in the world's northern hemisphere. Founded as the feudal Protectorate of Arthurista in CE 1070, it was transformed into the Commonwealth in 1650, which evolved into the parliamentary democracy today.

The island nation has, since its foundation, enjoyed a strong economic position due to its location astride important shipping lanes in the world. This was bolstered between the 1960s and 80s by the government’s adoption of an export-led pro-growth policy, aimed at building the Commonwealth as a centre for high tech manufacturing, as well as the discovery of off-shore oil and gas in the late 1980s. Due to its strong trade links with other fast-growing emerging economies and very low level of government debt, Arthurista emerged from the recent economic crisis almost unscathed. The consistently strong economy allows the government to construct a robust welfare state, aiming to spread the nation’s gains widely among the populace and provide a significant measure of social security to its citizens, thereby laying the foundation for even greater future growth and prosperity. The current rough consensus between the two largest parties in Parliament is best described as 'Third Way-ist' and 'Radical Centrist'.

The Commonwealth is a currently a member of numerous international organisations, such as the Belisarian Community and the NATA.

History

Main Article: The North Coast Wars

Main Article: The Constitution War

Main Article: Viceroy's War

Main Article: Great Fascist War

Main Article: The Eastern Emergency

Prehistory

Native writing from a stele, circa 600AD.

The island that would come to be known as Arthurista has been home to Homo Sapiens for 60,000 years. However, it was only about 10,000 years ago, with the latest shifts in the ocean currents and the end of the last glacial period that the island's originally arid ecosystem was transformed into temperate moors and forests in the coastal plains. This led to a rapid population explosion. By approximately BCE 800, the culture of tribal kingdoms that preceded the rise of the Arthuristan state was already firmly established.

Historians could pinpoint few details regarding the dominant pre-Arthuristan native culture, except that they were not indigenous to the island, probably displacing the original inhabitants between 1,200-600 BCE. They spoke a Celtic language, had irrigation, iron-smithing and a form of rudimentary writing, and were ruled by chieftains, who reigned from large hilltop forts of earth and timber construction or towns fortified by palisades. The strongest clan chiefs, those who could command sufficient respect within a wide geographical area, were hailed as kings. Over time, borders solidified and the tribal kingdoms grew to resemble sovereign states with determinable territories and the clans of the kings became royal dynasties.

These kingdoms fought each other incessantly, although most of these wars were little more than large-scale raids, launched for prestige, cattle and other 'movable wealth'. A native war host consisted of a kingdom's clan chiefs and their levy of followers. They fought on foot or mounted on ponies without stirrups, armed with spears, javelins, swords and self-bows. Most had little protection beyond wooden shields and coats of hide or leather, although chieftains and their bodyguards often had chainmail. After contact with the nascent Arthuristan Protectorate, the natives would develop heavy two-handed greatswords of 140cm or longer, both as status symbols and a way to counter mail-clad Arthuristan men-at-arms.

Origins

A Protectorate knight, circa early-1100s

The earliest history of Arthurista is murky at best. Historians generally agree that at around CE 1070, a charismatic warlord named Sir Steven Arthurius first seized power in the Dal Rata kingdom in the island's north coast, near the site of modern Kingston. Arthurius was not a native. Rather, he was a minor knight from overseas, possibly Lusankya, part of the great migration waves of proto-English speakers which arrived in successive stages from the late-900s to the early-1200s. He led a 'free company' of mercenaries for the local king. When his apportioned pay fell into arrears, he and his men seized control of the kingdom in a coup d'etat.

Arthurius received substantial support from a wide section of the local nobility prior to his coup. Many of them were soon to be enfeoffed as barons and counts as the erstwhile warlord transformed the tribal kingdom into a classic feudal state. The new landed aristocracy, whether they were originally native lords or Arthurius's former mercenary followers, soon intermarried and built up very strong ties with each other. The process was repeated whenever a neighbouring kingdom was conquered - the local nobles would soon be integrated into the realm's aristocracy in the same way. Along with the feudal system, the formation of the Arthuristan state also heralded the introduction of many advanced military ideas to the island, including armoured cavalry, castles, siege warfare and crossbows. They were also not averse to copying superior indigenous hardware, as demonstrated by their adoption of the Celtic longbow, a weapon the protectorate turned from a hunting tool of individual marksmen into an volley-firing, army-breaking medieval analogue of the machine gun. The armies of the native kingdoms, organised as clan-based warbands, stood little chance in pitched battles. Inevitably, Dal Rata conquered much of the northern coast of the island. The polity came to be known as 'Arthurista' by the Tribals, after its ruling house.

Arthurius, however, never claimed the title of monarch. The natives associated monarchy with having the correct bloodlines. Being a non-native with non-royal ancestors, he could never call himself 'king' (more properly "Ard Rí na Dal Rata" - High King of Dal Rata) without causing serious resentment. As first, he used the simple title of 'Dominus' - Lord. Later, in order to reflect his status as prima intra pares of the aristocracy, as well as emphasise that he owes his it to the functions his office performs, Steven's son and heir Roger restyled the title to 'Dominus Defensor' - Lord Protector.

Development of the Protectorate

Despite the feudalisation of the state, the Lord Protector's office never developed into a centralised despotism. He was, technically, merely the primus inter pares of the realm's aristocracy. The legitimacy of his rule resided in his proclaimed function as the guarantor of his subjects' rights and, as such, he must always take their views and grievances into account. The duties and obligations of the Shield vis-a-vis the nobility, for instance, was enshrined in the realm's founding document, the Grand Charter, violations of which by the Shield were regarded as legitimate grounds for rebellion by various lords throughout Arthuristan history.

Furthermore, due to the scarcity of population, serfdom as an institution never developed in Arthurista. Land-owning farmers, known as freeholders, paid his rent to the local lord in exchange for protection. It was wholly within his rights to pledge his allegiance to another baron whenever he wished. Lords often attempted to court each others' freeholders in an attempt to enlarge their territory, often leading to serious feuds and even private wars over internal migrations.

The parliament of the realm was an ancient institution which existed from the beginning of the state. Originally consisting only of the nobility, commoners - rural yeomen and urban tradesmen, gained seats with little opposition in the 1300s as longbowmen, billmen and siege engineers supplanted knights as the mainstay of the realm's army. As such, the political system of the Protectorate was very different from that of a monarchy. Rather, it has been described as something akin to a "Feudal Republic".

The 1500s saw a succession of relatively strong characters holding the Lord Protector's Shield, who could mediate the conflict between the increasingly powerful commoners, led by the emerging middle class, and the declining aristocracy. This culminated in the reign of Lady Protector Elbereth I (1557-1602), who greatly expanded Arthurista's role in Pardesi maritime trade and vied with Ulthrannia for naval supremacy.

Nevertheless, by the 1600s, the conflict between the classes could no longer be contained. The commoners demanded a constitutional system set in stone, while the nobility wished for a powerful Lord Protector who'd safeguard their privileges. This finally led to civil war in 1644. The commoners' faction, led by Orlando Cromwales and Sir Tom Fairfox, was to emerge victorious in the Constitution War. A Bill of Liberties and Rights was drafted. Aristocratic landholdings and estates gradually disappeared over the next two centuries, with titles becoming merely honorary affixes to family names. Members of parliament would now be elected on the basis of suffrage among male citizens of means (i.e. 'gentlemen' - the taxpaying gentry, including rural landowners and urban professionals). Both the class and gender requirements would subsequently be abolished in 1868 during the Viceroy's War). The Lord Protectorship became an empty figurehead and real executive power rested in the hands of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The new state, formally titled a 'Commonwealth', was proclaimed on 16 June 1650.

Modernity

The establishment of the Commonwealth led to a major intellectual bloom in Arthurista. The adoption of a democratic constitution was a major factor, although the traditionally minimalistic role relgion played in Arthuristan politics and society also played a complementing role. Termed 'the Age of Enlightenment', Arthuristan philosophers such as Johann Lock, David Huime, Alan Smythe, Eduard Gibons and Marie Wallstones soon became very influential throughout the world. Together with the contemporary scientific revolution, the "Illuminationists" laid the vital groundwork for the industrial revolution to come.

The 20th Century

The Admiral-class battlecruiser HHS Achilles during The Great Fascist War, circa 1943.

In the late 1920s, the effects of the Great Depression led to the breakaway of the western provinces and the establishment of a violent Fascist regime there, which visciously oppressed Celtic Arthuristans and other ethnic minorities. After years of ineffectual negotiations between the Dominion and the Fascists, the latter launched a surprise attack in mid-1941, leading to a four-year war and the complete destruction of the Fascist regime. The Fascists were aided by the Belhavian autocratic regime starting in late 1940 until the Fascists' defeat in spring 1945.





Politics and law

Parliament Square, Loweport

Politics

Main Article: Parliament of Arthurista
Main Article: Arthuristan Political Parties
Main Article: The Arthuristan Cabinet

Arthurista is a parliamentary democracy. While the Lord Protector is the nominal head of state, real executive power lies with the Prime Minister, i.e. the leader of the majority in Parliament, and his/her cabinet. The Arthuristan Parliament is elected to five year terms via a variant of the First Past the Post system.

Arthuristan politics places significant importance on consensual decision-making rather than bipartisanship, a legacy of the medieval parliament, in which the Lord Protector had to bargain with representatives from nobles and commoners for the power of levying tax. As a result, Arthuristan politics tend to focus on compromise and finding concrete solutions to problems rather than political grandstanding and 'hysterical ideologising'. In general, governments are formed in alternation by the two large centrist parties, Labour and the Liberals, often in coalition with other moderate minor parties, freezing out the radical "lunatic fringe", who are widely distrusted by the population.

Legal system

Main Article: Arthuristan law
Main Article: O'Callaghan v Commonwealth Prosecution Service

Arthurista's legal system is based on common law principles. Legal services are provided by a split profession of barristers and solicitors, while the judiciary is known for its impartiality, independence and non-political nature. The precedents they set, together with Acts of Parliament form the main body of Arthuristan law. The only areas which are more or less completely codified are civil and criminal procedures, as well as company law and banking law.

Arthurista has no written constitution. The so-called Arthuristan Constitutional Order was established in the aftermath of the Constitution War, which brought about the Bill of Liberties and Rights in 1650. The document would mutate over the centuries into the modern Bill of Human Rights. Contrary to popular belief, the Bill is NOT Arthurista's constitution (although it is one of its components); rather, it sets out the fundamental rights enjoyed by Arthuristan citizens, and which cannot be amended without a supermajority in parliament, a positive referendum and permission from the Star Chamber (i.e. the Arthuristan supreme court). Other areas beyond human rights and civil liberties, including the political setup, division of powers and other constitutional matters are set out in a diverse array of statutes, case law and custom, rather than codified into a single document.

Weapon laws

Arthurista has a relatively unique approach to gun control internationally. Arms ownership is considered to be a privilege as well as a right, that of fulfilling the citizen's duty of defending the People and Commonwealth. As such, upon completion of one year's Territorial service obligations, one may apply for a Firearms Certificate, which certifies the recipient's fitness to possess a weapon.

In order to obtain a Firearms Certificate, the applicant must, aside from being an active member of the Territorials or the Home Guard (or applied successfully for exemption, which is rarely granted), have obtained at least three passes at the Advanced Level of secondary education (i.e. must be a graduate of 13 years of schooling), pass a Firearms Safety Course, and be certified by a psychiatrist that the applicant is of sound mental health. His psychiatric clearance must be renewed every two years.

The final and most onerous requirement is the 'social test' - the applicant must obtain two character references from 'persons of good standing', preferably professionals such as doctors or solicitors. This requirement was considered by legislators as a central component of Arthuristan firearms regulatory regime, designed to ensure that 'citizens of respectability' are always better armed than 'disreputable characters' and 'unsavoury elements'.

There are no laws against the possession of bladed weapons in Arthurista, although their open carriage in public is a summary offence. There are no restrictions on non-lethal means of self-defence such as tasers and sprays.

Law Enforcement

Main Article: Law Enforcement in Arthurista
Main Article: Arthuristan Coastal Command

Geography and Climate

Arthurista's climate is not the product of its latitude. Rather, it is dominated by the presence of the Great Akkadiyan Cold Current, which together with trade winds shelter mainland Arthurista from the climate effects of its latitude and creating temperate climate conditions. The exception is in the southernmost islands, as well as the Dominion of Ibernia, whose coastlines are internationally known as the "Celtic Riviera" for their typically sunny and warm conditions through most parts of the year.

The coastal regions of the island consists mainly of semi-arid grasslands or shrublands. The mountainous interior, due to the far higher rates of precipitation, is dominated by rainforests. The highest peaks receive snowfall during the wet season, with permanent snow and glaciers appearing above 4,500m.

Economy

Main Article: Arthurista's Economy

Arthurista is a developed nation with a diverse social-market economy, with an emphasis on building a robust 'public-private partnership' in order to ensure steady, sustainable growth, smoothing out of economic cycles and mitigation of external shocks. The island has, since the advent of large scale maritime trade, enjoyed a strong economic position due to its location astride important shipping lanes in the northern Tempesta. Since the late-70s, the government has adopted an export-led, pro-growth policy, aimed at building the #Commonwealth as a centre for high tech manufacturing. Rich sources of rare earth minerals and off-shore oil and gas were discovered in the 1960s. Due to its strong trade ties with numerous friendly developed nations, as well as persistently low levels of national debt, Arthurista has not experienced a major, structural depression since the late-80s. The consistently strong economy allows the government to construct a relatively extensive welfare state within the structure of a market economy, aiming to spread the nation’s gains widely among the populace and provide a significant measure of social security to citizens, thereby laying the foundation for even greater future growth and prosperity.

Through careful management by the Bank of Arthurista, the Commonwealth Pound maintains a competitive exchange rate. Government borrowing is minimal compared to other similarly-sized developed states, with state-spending largely covered through taxation, the proceeds of enterprises owned in full or in part by the state and the earnings of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The government's aspiration has always been to encourage sustainable high economic growth through carefully nurturing the domestic manufacturing and financial sectors, supplemented by the exploitation of various natural resources, with the end goal of maintaining a high standard of living for the vast majority of the population.

See also: Seubyeni Hunterford Banking Corporation

Currency

Main Article: Commonwealth Pounds

Arthurista's official currency is the Commonwealth Pounds. One pound is worth 100 pennies. As of the early-2010s, the Commonwealth Pound maintains a stable, roughly 1:1.65 rate with the Universal Standard Dollar. It is stabilised within a flexible band by the Bank of Arthurista against a diverse basket of currencies.

Foreign Relations

As of February 2014, Arthurista is a member of the following international organisations:

See also: PPU Domestic Ethos Chart

Science and Technology

Main article: Joint Space Agency

Society and culture

Main Article: Arthuristan Culture
Main Article: Dueling in Arthurista

Overview

Arthuristan social attitudes and government policy are highly libertarian and 'progressive'. Strong anti-discrimination laws exist to protect a diverse range of minorities, whether ethnic, religious, sexual orientation or others. This is helped by the fact that, due to the island's chronic underpopulation, the government aggressively courts immigration from other countries. While these immigrants all bring their own unique cultures to enrich the Arthuristan way of life, overall the level of integration into Arthurista's secular, liberal and progressive society is high, producing a citizenry with strong civic pride and identity with the nation, regardless of ethnicity, culture or origin.

Literature

Philosophy

Music

Visual arts

Cinema and theatre

Sports

The most popular sport among Arthuristans is football (association, with rugby (union) a close second and cricket a distant third. Arthurista is also known for its tennis players and fencers.

Food

Religions

Main Article: Religion in Arthurista

The Commonwealth of Arthurista is a highly secular country, both in terms of official policy and popular sentiment. Religious affiliations are associated mostly with ethnic festivities on the multicultural island, such as Diwali or Eid. Even though many Arthuristans are nominally members of a religion, serious believers are a distinct minority.

Despite widespread irreligiosity, the freedom of religion is considered a fundamental right and Arthuristans look very unfavourably upon restrictions imposed on the freedom of conscience in non-democratic nations abroad.





Commonwealth Defence Forces

Main Article: Commonwealth Defence Forces


Boudicca Mk 1 tanks during a live fire exercise

The Commonwealth Defence Forces are the joint-service military forces of the Arthurista. Arthurista is well-known for its Universal National Service system and citizen-soldier ethos. In the event of an invasion, they would be mobilised en masse to repel the aggressor alongside standing and regular forces. The Commonwealth Navy is considered the most important element of the CDF and receives more funding than the other two services.

Arthuristan Intelligence Agencies

The Arthuristan government has at its disposal a complex, multilayered intelligence-gathering edifice, comprised of a network of agencies which are distinct in their areas of responsibility, but often operate together where the situation dictates. The five main intelligence agencies answer to a certain department of the government. Two are subordinate to the Foreign Office, one to the Home Office, one each to the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury. Police Special Branches are subordinate to the various metropolitan police departments, in turn responsible to the Home Office.

Below is a list of Arthuristan intelligence organisations:

Sea also