|The Twelve Commonwealths of Halsberg
Die Zwölf Gemeinwesen von Halsberg (German)
Kaksitoista Yhteiskuntia on Halsberg (Golgosan)
|Motto: "Strength through Unity, Unity through Strength"|
|Anthem: Halsberg, die Groß und Mächtig|
The Twelve Commonwealths of Halsberg.
Halsberg (dark green) within the European Union (light green).
|Official languages||English, German, Golgosan,|
|Recognised regional languages||Polish, Scots Gaelic|
|-||High President||Michael Solomon (UCP)|
|-||Vice President||Julia MacKinnon (UCP)|
|-||Upper house||Senate of the Commonwealths|
|-||Lower house||Parliamentary Council|
|-||Unification of the four core Commonwealths||1923|
|-||Incorporation of Advenschun, Roeburg, Golgosa and Romanvorg||1962|
|-||Veroni, Haligovina, St. Phillips and Traken granted Commonwealth Status||May 2014|
|GDP (nominal)||2014 estimate|
|Currency||Confederate Shilling (
|Time zone||Caspian Standard Time (CST) (UTC+04:00)|
|Date format||DD-MM-YYYY (AD)|
|Drives on the||left|
The Twelve Commonwealths of Halsberg is a presidential confederacy located in the European Union. It is bordered to the north-west by Poland-Lithuania and to the south-west by Vathopia. The territory of Halsberg has been inhabited for over 40,000 years, and is often considered to be the birthplace of animal domestication.
The area where the Confederacy currently resides was nothing more than a small collection of city states before 1922. These city state were established around the 12th Century A.D. These city states were the remnants of a feudal monarchy that split due to various ideological differences. This feudal monarchy was only recently discovered to have existed after years of research in both the archaeological field and written records. The city states enjoyed peace and stability for nearly a millennia. These city states were vastly different when it came to political and social ideaology, similar to the previous feudal monarchy. Fortunately, the city states realised a war would leave all parties severely weakened, and open to invasion by external enemies. It is believed that many outside powers in the region influenced the politics of the city states, preventing unification.
However, one man stood up for what he believed in. In 1919, a man by the name of William Crighton proposed a united nation, wherein many of the city states could keep their own political system and beliefs. During the early days of his proposal, it garnered a large amount of support from nearly every city state involved. But surprisingly, just as his idea was gaining momentum, William Crighton abandoned the idea without giving any reason. It was discovered later that his wife and children were being held by external powers. These external nations realised how powerful a unified Halsberg would be, and wanted to prevent it at all costs.
In 1922, William Crighton made an unannounced and sudden return to the public eye. His unification proposal was resurrected and had wide support. William Crighton received correspondence from the Governments of the 8 city states that were to be unified. This correspondence expressed support for the idea. The next day, William Crighton announced that a unified state had been created, with Thurston as its capital. Nearly immediately, three neighbouring nations declared war on the fledgling nation. This war lasted just 6 months. Thurston had been captured and the Halsbergian army was in retreat. It was then when a chance development in the leader of the three invader nations occurred. Their parliament building was destroyed in a terrorist attack. The debate over whether or not Halsberg had anything to do with it continues to this day. A snap election was called, due to the death of nearly every parliamentarian. An anti-war party won the election, and a peace treaty was drawn up. Invading forces would retreat so long as Halsberg would never become a unitary state.
A new constitution was created, which declared the nation a Confederacy. Each member state would retain its own legislature, but would surrender sovereignty on key isues, such as defence or currency. The new constitution was ratified, and on April 7th 1923 the Confederacy of Halsberg was born.
In August 1946, the far-right candidate Maxwell Gracie was elected to the High Presidency. However, he did not curb civil liberties and political freedoms, as many commentators at the time had predicted. In fact, he led Halsberg through what many call a "golden age". The economy was up, due to the "Made in Halsberg" campaign pursued by High President Gracie. This enabled the Government to implement wide-reaching reforms. The Gracie Administration invested heavily in infrastructure, an area in dire need of funds. Many new railways were constructed, creating tens of thousand of new jobs. The Confederacy was one of the first nations in Europe to achieve wide-spread implementation of electric locomotives. Air travel was also one of the High President's personal interests. He encouraged investment in Halsbergian aerospace companies. Various regionally known aerospace businesses flocked to Halsberg, taking advantage of the large tax breaks available.
Gracie realised that if Halsberg was going to become economically powerful, it would need extensive trade links. He built up relations with many nations, but refused to do so with Halsberg's nearest neighbours; the nations that initiated the 1922-23 war. These nations were uninterested in Halsberg, preferring to trade with each other. They were all unaware of what awaited them in July 1959.
Ever since he was elected to the High Presidency, Maxwell Gracie had been increasing defence spending significantly each year. Prior to his election, Halsberg's army had been little more than a police force. This was thanks to the pacifist agenda of the previous High President, Eugene Middleton. The Armed Forces were powerful, confident, and well equipped. On July 3rd 1959, High President Gracie officially declared war on its neighbours.
Halsberg's former, and now present, enemies were caught off guard. They had not been paying any attention to the small nation that bordered them. The first fell within a week. The second one month later. The third capitulated after 5 months of war. The fourth held out for 3 more years. By the time they surrendered, Halsberg was struggling. The "golden age" was over.
The War had taken its toll. Businesses and foreign investment had fled when the first shot was fired. Although the core area of Halsberg had remained untouched by fighting, the Confederacy now controlled four former nations, each filled with nationalism and resentment. Under Gracie's original plan, each of these territories would have become part of a new Halsbergian Empire. They would not have enjoyed the status of the four core Commonwealths of the Confederacy. However, these plans never came to fruition, thanks to the ousting of Gracie after a vote of no confidence in the Parliamentary Council and Senate.
A snap election was called, and Ronald Winship was chosen to become the new High President. He proposed a different plan for the newly acquired territory. He pursued reconciliation and equality. He knew that nationalist tendencies within the conquered lands threatened to tear the country apart. Therefore, he declared that the conquered lands will enjoy full equality with the original Commonwealths. This brought the number of Confederate Commonwealths to 8.
Winship's plan worked tremendously, and by 1974, opinion polls showed that citizens of the conquered lands preferred to live in the Confederacy.
By the 1980s, nationalism had all but died out. In its place, the left-wing agenda of Sean Duval took prominence. He proposed a national health service, welfare for the poor, and "tax and spend" economics. These ideas were welcomed, and his new Social Democrats won the following elections with ease. A Social Democrat age followed, but as with all ages, ended in 1998. The New Nationalist Party took control of the country from the Social Democrats, albeit temporarily. After 2 years, the party fell apart thanks to internal squabbles. The Social Democrats regained the High Presidency and majority control of the Legislature.
This, however, was not to last. As explained in an article of HCNA, the Social Democrats fell apart, in much the same way as the New Nationalists. The Left wing was fragmented, scattered. This allowed the centre-right Unionist and Conservative Party to take power.
Almost immediately, they began to dismantle the socialist work of the previous Government. This was met with high praise from the public, who had become weary of left-wing politics. One of the UCP's main achievements was taking Halsberg into the European Union. This has brought prosperity and stability to the Confederacy.
Guide to the Twelve Commonwealths
Thurston: Residents of Thurston live a very cosmopolitan lifestyle. Most citizens are modern and accepting of others’ life choices up to a point. Thurston is the leading commonwealth for civil rights, with marriage equality being achieved in mid-2013, for example. Centuries of living in a regional economic centre have allowed Thurstonites access to the latest technologies and services, such as free universal healthcare. The majority of the population have white collar occupations, leading to accusations of exploitation of the small blue-collar workforce. Thurston has been described as an architectural marvel, with its large, neo-classical public squares and buildings a testament to its position as the seat of politics, economics, culture and learning. According to some, being born in Thurston is prestigious in itself. The government of Thurston is a full democracy, with the Mayor heading the representative Palace of Assembly. Thurston is one of the most diverse societies in Halsberg, and some say the wider region. A melting pot of various cultures and peoples, the city is home to people from across the Confederacy and the wider world. The famous street markets are packed with people of all colours, creeds and tongues selling their wares.
Hellenburg: The Hellenburg Collective is a commonwealth hardened by war, especially in its northern regions. Due to its status as a frontline for much of its history, Hellenburg’s culture and identity is only now beginning to thrive. Originally an absolute monarchy, Hellenburg’s people grew tired of the constant failings of the King and turned to an extreme form of direct democracy in response. Everyone who resides in the Collective has equal voice and as such has an equal say in all legislation. There is no representation or elections, a citizen must simply turn up to the central hall in the capital of Celeste and debate and vote on issues. The advent of mass communication and the internet has extended political participation throughout the commonwealth. The Commonwealth has the largest coastline of the twelve, and as such its economy is primarily based on fishing and, more recently, oil exploration.
Advenschun: As the largest and most populous Commonwealth, the people of Advenschun enjoy a larger influence in Confederate affairs than their neighbours. However, this influence extends only to the wider confederacy, thanks to the Commonwealth’s lack of full democracy. Decisions are made by a group of twelve individuals, each representing the twelve traditional prefectures of the commonwealth. Appointments to this Quorum of Twelve are made by the Eternal Guardian, currently Gayna VII. Gayna is facing calls from her citizens for democratic reform, though little has been achieved. Those from Advenschun often face discrimination in the original four Commonwealths of Thurston, Hellenburg, Sandvolg and Schunland, thanks to Advenschun’s leading role in the war of 1923. Veroni is an area where those from Advenschun fare particularly badly in terms of prejudice. Advenschun’s people are close-knit and enjoy a low crime rate. The Commonwealth is known for its vast stretches of forest and undisturbed natural beauty.
Roeburg: The Grand Duchy of Roeburg, as it was known before its incorporation into the Confederacy, values tradition and family ties above all else. The people of Roeburg often enjoy the more cultural aspects of life, with Roeburg’s galleries and museums considered the best in the Confederacy, if not the entire region. Another favourite pastime is the tasting of fine, Schunland wine. The Commonwealth is also known for its excellent local cuisine. If a one finds work as a chef in Roeburg, one is often at the pinnacle of one’s career. Despite commanding a vast empire in the early 19th century, Roeburg’s influence and power began to decline in tandem with the rise of Advenschun. Though still an influential state before its absorption into the Confederacy, it was often said that the Duchy’s best days were behind it thanks to the power of its neighbours. Roeburg is a parliamentary democracy, headed by a Prime Minister with an elected House of Commons and appointed House of Peers. The Commonwealth retains its royal family, though they have little real power. The Duke of Roeburg, currently Edmund XI, is the youngest Duke in history and his well-liked by his subjects.
Golgosa: Golgosa is noted for being particularly devout in its Roman Catholic faith. The vast majority of Halsberg’s Catholics reside in this Commonwealth, where over 80% of the population attends mass regularly. Indeed, so devout are many within Golgosa that some are known to refuse medical treatment for anything from broken bones to cancer. Instead, the opt to trust in faith and prayer. Golgosa is often described as fiercely conservative, and as such the populace have few civil rights when compared to other neighbouring Commonwealths. The small gay community is often the focus for criticism. A makeshift camp protesting against rights for LGBT people outside the Confederate Government’s main offices is reaching its third year of operation. Other Christian faiths are tolerated by Golgosa’s populace; indeed other Abrahamic religions operate to a degree. However, there is little support for other faiths, such as Althanian Polytheism. The border with the Althanian Dominion has meant Golgosa is also home to the majority of Althanians in Halsberg, despite the less than hospitable response many Golgosans have displayed. The economy is not the strongest in the world, relying primarily on agriculture and manufacturing. The people are governed by the Committee for the Preservation of Moral Integrity, a government department which grew to become the government itself. It is unelected and has sweeping powers to detain those it deems ungodly. Such powers are rarely used, however, thanks to the watchful eye of other Commonwealths.
Romanvorg: The smallest Commonwealth by population, Romanvorg has a history of exploitation at the hands of its neighbours. By the time of its absorption into the Confederacy, Romanvorg had been under the control of Advenschun. This was a situation which had persisted for centuries previously, with control over Romanvorg regularly switching between Golgosa and Advenschun. As such, Romanvorg is the Confederacy’s poorest Commonwealth, with many of the 20,000 or so residents relying on subsistence farming to survive. Romanvorg was the first place settled in Halsberg by Roman Catholics, hence the name. As a result, the people are also particularly devout in their Catholic faith, although not quite to the same extent as their neighbours in Golgosa. It is not all doom and gloom, however. Romanvorg shares Advenschun’s natural beauty, with some of the largest waterfalls and forests residing in Romanvorg. Thanks to this, a tourist industry is developing with some success. There is little democracy in the Commonwealth. The government is headed by a Lord President, a hereditary position currently held by Jarvis Cochrane.
Schunland: The Commonwealth of Schunland is the smallest, non-metropolitan Commonwealth by land area. Despite this, it has grown to become a significant part of the Confederacy. Many of the country’s financial centres are based in the capital of Santa Marie, thanks to the Commonwealth’s low taxes and lax regulation. The Commonwealth has become particularly wealthy as a result, and offers free healthcare, education and affordable housing to all its inhabitants, asserting that they are a basic human right. The beaches of Schunland are said to be the best in the country, and are often packed during the summer months. A vibrant tourist industry has been established in the Commonwealth for decades, with hotels being some of Santa Marie’s largest buildings. The people of the Commonwealth are very defensive of their visiting guests, viewing them as a valuable source of income. Schunland is widely considered to be one of the most hospitable places in the Confederacy as a result. The Commonwealth is governed by an elected bicameral parliament, with a First Minister at its helm.
Sandvolg: The people of Sandvolg are highly liberal and tolerant, especially when compared to some of their neighbouring Commonwealths. They are also particularly well educated, with Halsberg’s top universities being within the Commonwealth. Until recently, the universities of Sandvolg were extremely exclusive, with only the richest and most academically able gaining entry. However, the ruling Presidium elected to abolish fees for higher education, and as such the Commonwealth has seen an explosion in its student community. The people of Sandvolg share Roeburg’s tendency to enjoy the finer things in life. They are a very peaceful people, and enjoy a low crime rate as a result. Indeed, they were extremely reluctant to contribute forces to the war of 1959, and only did so under immense pressure, and some would say threats, from William Gracie’s Confederate administration. Sandvolg is similar to Thurston in that the large majority of its population work in white-collar occupations and are very accepting of nearly all lifestyle choices. The Presidium is an elected body, although the franchise is only extended to employed homeowners with a university degree.
Veroni: This newly-created Commonwealth comprises the city of Veroni and its surrounding area. The city has maintained its own distinctive character and culture despite being governed from afar for nearly a century. The city is Halsberg’s largest port, and as such handles much of the incoming sea trade. Veroni is yet another area of the Confederacy which will benefit from the increasing levels of oil exploration in the coming years. Veroni is also considered an architectural masterpiece, having been almost entirely rebuilt since its near destruction from a rogue Advenschun atomic bomb in 1961. Its gleaming spires and towering skyscrapers mask a deep and bitter prejudice against Advenschun and her people. Indeed, violence against people from Advenschun reached such a critical point in the late 1970s that the Confederate government had to intervene to protect its citizens, in what has become known as the Night of Rage and Sorrows where 357 people of Advenschun descent were shot dead. Though progress has been made towards reconciliation, there is still much work to be done. Veroni is a much more family-oriented city than Thurston is. It is not uncommon for apartments to accommodate up to four generations of the same family. A person who lives alone is a rare sight in Veroni. The city’s public transport system is considered the best by far in all the twelve commonwealths, with delays of even mere minutes being unheard of. The maglev carriages carry commuters between the towering buildings at incredible speeds, high above the somewhat crowded streets below. The city’s government is headed by an elected Supreme Governor, a notable position thanks to the ineligibility of any man for the role. Only a woman may take the position of Supreme Governor.
St. Phillips: The city is one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the Confederacy. Originally nothing more than an early Catholic monastery, the settlement grew over the centuries until it reached its present size. The original monastery still stands in the exact centre of the city, with all other buildings radiating out from it. The construction of the city is interesting in that a building’s age can be determined usually by its position relative to the monastery. For centuries, this practice of building outwards in a circular fashion has persisted. Indeed, one can note the evolution of the architecture as one moves away from the city centre. The monastery itself is the tallest building in the Commonwealth, thanks to regulations prohibiting the building of structures larger than it. It can be seen from most points in the city and is a major tourist attraction. Indeed, tourism is one of the Commonwealths primary industries. Visitors come to the city to experience the authentic medieval atmosphere and culture which continues to this day. So ingrained is this sense of tradition that until the late 1990s there was not one supermarket in St. Philips: all grocery shopping was done in outdoor street markets. The Commonwealth currently has no local government. The City Chambers were destroyed in a fire in 2012, and have yet to be rebuilt. As a result, the city’s administration had been the responsibility of the Commonwealth Duchy of Roeburg until it received Commonwealth status. It is currently administered by the Commonwealth Affairs Office of the central Confederate government in Thurston.
Haligovina: The Commonwealth of Haligovina is the third largest city in Halsberg. Its cosmopolitan people are known for their social liberalism and tolerance, especially considering it is surrounded by the most socially conservative Commonwealth in the Confederacy. Indeed, the city’s local government, run by the Progressives for the last decade, have begun to encourage what they deem “refugees” from Golgosa to move to the city. The Commonwealth government provides subsidised housing for these “refugees”, many of which come from the LGBT community and other minorities. It has been argued that this has bred enmity between the two Commonwealths, with reports of brawls and, once, a full riot, commonplace. In fact, it has recently come to light that had Haligovina not been given Commonwealth status, Golgosa would have moved to expel the city and create a new Commonwealth by themselves. Despite its positioning, Haligovina was never a particularly religious place. It has been claimed that medieval King Julian II had a personal vendetta against the Prince Regent of neighbouring Golgosa, and refused to adopt Christianity in an attempt to slight him. As a result, religion never took off in the city as it did elsewhere. The city is noted for its annual Wellspring Gathering, which takes place on the spring equinox. Tens of thousands of people line the streets for a celebration of music, food and drink. The festival attracts visitors from both within and without the Confederacy’s borders, and is a major element of the local economy.
Traken: The Traken Union, as it is now known, is the smallest major city in the Confederacy. It is also the northernmost city, and was the capital of the Dominion of Advenschun until its absorption into the Confederacy. One of the main arguments for the granting of Commonwealth status was the Trakenites’ lack of democracy under the government of Advenschun, and as such the Commonwealth of the Traken Union is a full, representative democracy headed by a Lord Provost. The people of Traken, while not as liberal as their brothers and sisters in Thurston or Haligovina, continue the trend of being more socially accepting than rural areas. Traken is also home to the Confederacy’s burgeoning film industry. Classic films from the 20th and 21st century were made here, including the cult favourites “Quatermass and the Pit” and “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”. Wandering the streets of Traken for long enough will almost guarantee an encounter with a film star of some description. In addition, the Confederacy’s public service broadcaster, the Halsberg Broadcasting Initiative, was founded in Traken in 1965 and continues to be headquartered there to this day. The main offices of the Halsberg Central News Agency can also be found in the city, along with several other national news outlets. The people of Traken are generally friendly, but won’t hesitate to engage in a bit of healthy fisticuffs should you offend them. Indeed, there are some who favour nothing more than a good few pints of the locally produced mead and a good fight.