Part 31: XXX. Queen Ioulanda II 1881-1891 A.D.
1883 opened with the budget in great shape. The Kingdom was rolling in cash from industry and taxes. Queen Ioulanda II decided to put the Kingdom's profits to good and immediate use.
The Scottish Union had been blatantly breaking the terms signed after the last Antipodean War, and was aggressively expanding their colonies on the northern coast of the continent. Moreover, they had built trading posts up and down the eastern half of New Guinea and Borneo, both islands that Jerusalem had nominally claimed. Enough was enough.
On September 11th, 1883, the Kingdom of Jerusalem declared colonial war on Scots possessions in the Pacific. From the deserts of Antipodea to the jungles of New Guinea, a brilliant leader was needed to lead the fight in the diverse theaters of the Scottish Pacific empire. Fortunately, Jerusalem had such a leader, in the dashing General Rogier, and Queen Ioulanda II put him at the head of her Pacific armies.
It was well, perhaps, that the other members of Jerusalem's military kept General Rogiers strange and perverse proclivities quiet from their Queen. A victory in Antipodea was much more important then what a man might do with… ahem… yes, best kept quiet.
By late November Antipodea and New Guinea had been claimed and folded into the Kingdom. The task force was rested up for a strike on Borneo.
Generaly Rogier seized Borneo in December, without resistance, and promptly set sail for Bonin. Here, however, the Scots had prepared better for the war. When the Kingdom's gunships arrived off the coast in late January, they found 10,000 men heavily dug in. Not feeling confident in his forces abilities to take the island, General Rogier sailed on to Okinawa, but found even more troops dug in there.
General Rogier ordered the task force to move north, invading the undefended southern tip of Scottish Sakhalin, landing in early February of 1884.
After taking the southern half of the island, he moved north and became locked in a fierce battle with the Scottish defenders.
It looked as though General Rogier's troops would win, as they gradually pushed the Scots back, but then disaster struck. The Scots landed troops in southern Sakhalin, imperiling the Kingdoms' forces from behind. Reluctantly, General Rogier disengaged, loading his troops back onto his ships before he could be flanked. Theatre command back in Antipodea sent orders for him to return for refitting.
But instead of turning south, General Rogier ordered the fleet to head north. His scouts and spies had told him something incredible. Aside from a tiny, symbolic garrison, Scottish Siberia was nearly undefended. He landed his troops immediately.
It was a campaign quite unlike any the world had seen before. General Rogier's troops quickly spread out, overwhelming the tiny Scots garrisons and sweeping across Siberia. As the weather grew colder they improvised cold weather gear and repulsed the few desperate attempts at Scottish counter landings. By January of 1885 nearly all of Siberia had fallen and the victorious soldiers were now known as Rogier's Wolves.
Meanwhile, another small task force steamed west from Alexandria to seize a Scottish fort in West Africa, just south of Leonese Morocco. Perhaps more importantly, factories in Baghdad began turning out an entirely new kind of weapon…
The success in Siberia couldn't last forever. By mid-summer of 1885 the Scots landed a large force, nearly double that of General Rogier. But they were still reluctant to go on the offensive against his Wolves, and Rogier didn't have enough men to launch his own attack. So the stalemate in the tundra dragged on into the fall.
Finally, in October, the Scots agreed to a peace treaty, ceding Antipodea, New Guinea, and Borneo in exchange for General Rogier evacuating Siberia. It was a great victory for Jerusalem, and Rogier and his Wolves were feted in the capital. His campaign staff made certain that any unsavory rumors about his private life and the new 'friends' he had made in Siberia remained quiet.
Over the next few years, Jerusalem continued to expand its colonial presence in the Pacific, as well as expanding its new West African holdings. In the summer of 1886, Queen Ioulanda II purchased the islands of Tasmania and New Caledonia from Orleans.
1887 saw the Amazonian Commonwealth defeat the Flemish Argentine in yet another war, and Orleans trounce the C.S.N. forcing them to cede land, including a treaty port in Nova Scotia.
After defeating the Nicholian Confederates, the King of Orleans asked Jerusalem to sign a defense alliance. Queen Ioulanda II agreed. Jerusalem would not, after all be called upon to support any colonial adventures by Orleans, and a defensive pact between the two nations would make the rest of the world think twice about unprovoked aggression. It would help guarantee peace, while the Kingdom worked on expanding in the Pacific.
In the end, of course, things didn't work out quite as planned.
The Queen's most immediate concern, however, was growing separatism and nationalism amongst the Kingdom's minorities. Persians, Indians, and other colonial inhabitants were all agitating for more rights. The Queen increased the size of the army instead.
The Russians, sensing weakness after the successes of Rogier's Wolves, moved into Scottish Siberia in force and annexed it in a very short war. Scottish possessions in the Pacific had been reduced to a few islands ringing Japan and one off the Nicholian coast. The other big player in the Pacific was the Federal Republic of Nicholia, which was rapidly eclipsing their formerly more powerful Confederate rivals on the world stage. The Flemish Argentine had also lost much of their Pacific holdings to Leon, retaining only New Zealand and part of the Philippines.
The Pacific, January 1888
It looked increasingly clear that continuing to expand Jerusalem's power in Pacific would likely bring the Kingdom into conflict with either Leon or the F.R.N. Possibly both. Neither war seemed appealing. The Kingdom's navy wasn't big enough to carry out an extended island campaign and, in any case, the proud young Nicholian republic was unlikely to cede any land unless crushingly defeated. A battle against Leon might be easier, but a colonial conflict in Antipodea would likely spill over to Africa and possibly become a general Mediterranean war.
The need to make the choice was taken away almost immediately. On March 9th, 1888, the Russian Parliament declared war on Poland. Orleans and the F.R.N., both of whom had sworn to protect the shattered Polish rump state, declared war on Russia. Bohemia declared war on Orleans and the F.R.N. A strange string of alliances and pacts were activated and, within a few days nations across the globe had joined together in a quixotic battle to defend the tiny free Polish territories. Even the Byzantine Emperor threw his hat in the ring.
The dreaded cable came from Orleans, asking Queen Ioulanda II to honor her agreement and join in the battle against Russia. Reluctantly, she agreed.
(click me for thumbnail)
The Great World War Against Russia had begun.
The Queen had long planned a war against Russia to take back the border territories stolen from her father, but she had certainly not planned it so soon. The Russian army was huge, nearly twice the size of Jerusalem's forces and nearly ten times that of Byzantium. Seeing as how the Nicholian nations would likely fight in name only, and the other European nations couldn't reach Russia via land, Byzantium and Jerusalem would likely face the Russian bear largely alone.
The first few months were surprisingly peaceful on Jerusalem's front. Neither nation had been prepared for war and it took time to mobilize divisions and rush them to the front. Queen Ioulanda II first felt confident enough to order an offensive in mid-May, and the Kingdom's armies moved cautiously across the border in several Russian provinces. The first thing that was noticed was that, numerous as they were, the Russian army was extremely poorly trained, led, and equipped compared to Jerusalem.
The Byzantine border was stripped of troops, most of who were sent east to shore up the massive armies that were now clashing in Persia and Afghanistan. Given the surprisingly anemic state of the Byzantine army, several detachments of the Kingdom's troops were sent to secure the Greek border provinces.
While Russia rolled into Poland, they clashed with the Byzantines along the wide open plains of the Western Front. Things didn't look great for the Byzantines, with an anti-war socialist rebellion breaking out near Kiev and Russians crossing the border in force at several points.
The next six months saw a slow, grinding advance against the Russians. The casualties were tremendous, but the superior training and equipment of Jerusalem's armies began to take their toll. In later histories, the battle of Mazar i Sharif would often be quoted as one of the pivotal moments of the war. In early January of 1889, General Nicolau surrounded and annihilated nearly a quarter of a million Russians in the snowy wastes around the city.
The Byzantines had fiercely resisted the Russian advance on the Western front, but the Russians had advanced to Jerusalem's borders in the Caucasuses. A small detachment of the Kingdom's troops, cut off by the Russians instead moved south-east around the shore of the Caspian sea, supplied by Jerusalem's tiny Caspian navy.
Mazar i Sharif had seemingly broken the Russian morale. Jerusalem began to advance more steadily, and even the Byzantines threw the Russians out of their land and counterattacked.
Even better news came that summer, as the Federal Republic of Nicholia and Orleans coordinated a naval invasion of Russia. The F.R.N. crashed ashore in Siberia, and Orleans, supported by Scandinavia, landed east of the Prussian holdings in Finland. Panic began to set in amongst the Russian soldiers.
By the end of summer the Russian retreat had become a rout.
By October, Russia had been split in two and the writing was on the wall.
1889 had been important for more than just military matters. That spring had seen the introduction of crude and early automobiles to the streets of Orleans, an invention that rapidly spread around the world. A Scottish naturalist had also put forth a theory of 'Evolution by Natural Selection'. His filthy tome of lies was added to the Kingdom's increasingly disobeyed and irrelevant Index of Banned Books.
In the spring of 1890, Moscow fell to Jerusalem's advancing forces. The Kingdom's soldiers met those of Orleans and held an impromptu victory celebration.
Plans were drawn up for a march on the Russian capital of Pskov. The military assured the Queen that the city would be theirs by mid-summer. But it was not to be. The Russian government collapsed and the new parliament begged the King of Orleans to broker a peace. Jerusalem pushed for harsher terms, but the other members of the Allies chose to be maganamous.
The treaty was signed on March 16, 1890, almost two years to the day after the war had started. Except for Mazar i Sharif, the border between Russian and Jerusalem was restored to its old boundaries. Eastern Siberia was ceded to the F.R.N. in a separate agreement. Russia was furthermore forced to make a series of humiliating war indemnity payments to the Allies and further disarm their military. Not that there was much left to disarm.
But, despite her victory, all was not well in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. New ideologies were taking strong hold amongst the poor and downtrodden. Socialists grew in number and preached not just the removal of the Monarchy, but the dissolution of the religious foundations of the very state.
Weary of war and 'medieval' methods of government, the people of Jerusalem were beginning to grow rebellious…