Part 29: XXVIII. Laurence V 1855-1867 A.D.
In early 1855, the colonial ambitions of the Byzantines continued apace, and they won a hard fought victory against Hybrasil, forcing them to cede several ports and a long strip of the Amazonian coast.
Jerusalem's navy had remained small and very little effort had been put into modernizing it. That summer, however, capitalists began constructing a factory for clipper ships on the Red Sea coast of Egypt. Jerusalem would build more of her own ships from now on.
King Laurence's frustration with the Chinese holdings around Baroda came to a head that year. Confident that the Kingdom's more organized and technologically advanced armies could defeat the Chinese, he declared war in June.
The Chinese navy was not likely to be much of a threat, and the Baroda area was largely unguarded, so the main front would be along the corridor leading towards Jamshedpor and the Himalayas.
The war was not popular with everyone, however. The expatriate author Guy d'Lambert published his novel A Light in India, which was a fierce critique of Jerusalem's policies towards Hindu population and the wars with China. Although officially banned in the Kingdom, the novel found many readers.
On the bright side, the Kingdom's successes against the Chinese armies led to several new methods of field training, which improved the performance of the army even more.
By November, the Baroda area had been fully occupied, and the Kingdom was moving to capture China's holdings in northern India. It was hoped that would be enough to force the Han Emperor to concede the war.
The other major change in 1855 was King Laurence signing a bill to move the Kingdom's currency to a silver base, hopefully stabilizing finances and centralizing more control over the monetary system.
By early 1856, northern India had been wrested away from the numerous but weak and disorganized forces of China. Unfortunately, that did not seem to be enough to make China sign concessions. King Laurence ordered a further advance, but the terrain was all endless mountains and jungles and poorly suited for warfare.
The biggest problem was that Jerusalem simply didn't have enough troops to open a broad front against the Chinese. The vast majority of the Kingdom's army remained on the border with Russia and Byzantium. A dozen divisions had been thought sufficient to trounce the Chinese in such a narrow arena. The war dragged on until October, until China finally offered to settle for surrendering a strip along the coast, including the ports, while leaving them in nominal control of the interior.
King Laurence reluctantly settled, unwilling to have the war go on any further. The remaining territory could be wrested away later.
In April of 1857, Jerusalem officially claimed sovereignty over a broad swath of land in southern Atipodea. No doubt tensions with Leon would continue to increase over the territory.
Shortly thereafter, the Kingdom's alliance with Orleans expired and was not able to be renegotiated.
The hodge-podge system of various localized currencies that had endured in the region since the First Crusade was finally swept away that fall, as the monetary system was rationalized and decimalized. 10 bits to round. 10 rounds to a nile. 10 niles to a sword. 10 swords to a silver crown. 10 crowns to a golden cross.
For many years, the Kingdom's holdings near Benghazi and Tripoli had faced raids from the nomadic peoples of the interior Sahara. In 1858, King Laurence ordered an invasion to put an end to the problem.
It was a short and almost effortless war. A tiny enclave of free nomads was left as a sop to Leon, who had long had a profitable trade agreement with the raiders.
In April of 1859, the Chinese general Guang Yu, who had fought against Jerusalem in the recent war defected to the Kingdom, crossing the border into India and asking for asylum. He accepted Christ into his heart and was baptized as Gaston de Saint-Charles. Much was made of this defection, and it was seen as a sign that the Chinese craved Christian civilization.
Gaston de Saint-Charles, photographed on his visit to the court of King Laurence V in Jerusalem, July 1859.
The next few years were very good for the Confederate States of Nicholia, as they defeated both the Russians and Scots, taking both Russian south Africa and a swath of Nicholian territories.
It was ironic, perhaps, that such a movement should start in Jerusalem, of all places, but in 1861 there was a great flowering in realist art in the Kingdom. The world that God had made was painted and portrayed as it really was, as homage, rather then in the highly stylized and symbolic quasi-medieval way it had been before. This new movement in art caught on in Europe and the prestige of the Kingdom flourished. Those who had seen Jerusalem as a backwards religious dictatorship were forced to eat crow when faced with the artistic flourishing that took the west by storm.
(We went from a mere 20 prestige to nearly 500 in a couple months, temporarily making us the number one nation in the world.)
In August of 1861 the Russians declared war on China. Jerusalem followed suite a few months later, hoping to gain more of China's holdings in India. This war followed roughly the same pattern as the last, with the added benefit of the Russians crushing China in the north and drawing away their armies.
In early 1863 the Russians signed a peace treaty, only taking single province, and King Laurence accepted China's offer of peace, greatly improving their holdings in India.
Crusader India, 1863.
In 1864, news came that an alliance of Orleans, the FRN, and the CSA had won a war against Prussia. Orleans took several provinces on the Baltic, but more surprisingly, the Confederate President forced the Prussian King to cede Vindava to him as a 'treaty port'. The Nicholians had come to Europe.
A philosopher, David d'Sini, although unpopular with the King and court, flourished in Alexandria, and published influential books on Empiricist thought that were popular abroad.
By 1867, Jerusalem had continued to improve its standing in the world, and was increasingly turning its ambitions outside its borders, towards China, Antipodea, Indonesia, and Africa. The dark and savage peoples of the world were waiting for someone to take up the Christian's Burden.
King Laurence V in 1867.