For the masses of the Empire the summer of 1900 was somber. In late July it was declared that the Zello-Osladian war was officially over and peace had been brokered. Soon after the announcement wives marched their youngest children to the docks and families waited among thrifty merchants and brawny sailors for the ships bearing their sons and husbands to return. For some they would soon meet the embrace of their returning husbands and sons, but for many others the wait would last a lifetime. Of the original one hundred thousand men that sailed north in the spring 1899, only twenty thousand returned alive. With casualties estimated as high as eighty seven thousand and low as sixty four thousand the Zello-Osladian war would be the first of many bloody conflicts that would mark the 20th century. However while many mourned their losses and the nation began the long process of healing, others celebrated. Shortly after the second Liubeth Conference concluded, Count Yegorov and his delegation departed for Oslograd aboard the Count's private vessel. Through personal journal accounts of the journey, the Count and his clique toasted at every meal and many hours of drinking and revelry were had. Unfortunately for the ever gregarious Yegorov, Oslograd was in a much more somber mood when he and his diplomatic corp arrived.
Many believed that the war's end would bring a new calm period for the Empire, and would allow the many bickering factions and cliques to rest and recuperate from the electoral season and politicking it brought with it. However, this would not be the case. Upon arriving back in Oslograd the prime minister was immediately shuffled into countless council meetings to discuss the post-war situation. To the north, the Zellonians turned on their recent Memoital allies and declared King James Conrad to be King of Zellonia and Monarch of the Memoital Commonwealth, needless to say this transgression enraged Yegorov. Though not stated publicly, the Count purportedly stated his intention to "return to that godforsaken hell and break the cripple king's other leg". However, in a statement released to the Duma shortly after the Count's return to Oslograd the new prime minister remained calm.
"It has come to the attention of the Duma and the royal admiralty of Oslad that the Zellonian Kingdom, our foes in the field of battle not long ago, have already begun both naval rearmament and the annexation of the Memoital Commonwealth. It goes without saying that the Osladian Empire will not allow such transgressions to go ignored. While perhaps the Radenan papers might decry me as 'democracy gone wrong' I rebuke those vulturous statements and venomous slanders. I did indeed call King James Conrad of Zellonia a mad king, and today I do so again without remorse for my statement. The Zellonian monarch is not fit to rule his nation, nor is he fit to sit the throne of Memoital. His people suffered through a year's long war that saw their nation torn asunder, and less than a month after the signing of the treaty that ended that bloody conflict Conrad stomps his boot on that treaty. The Mad King of Zellonia does not care for peace! He does not care for prosperity! No my friends, this man is a menace to his nation and to all peace loving peoples of the continent! If I am democracy gone wrong, then James Conrad is interbreeding gone wrong! Thank you for your attention, and hail Oslad."
The statement was unsubstantiated and crude, but the thunder and scandal of it broke headlines across the Empire and the Continent. Indeed, it seemed to solidify Yegorov's appearance as a crude yet bold and unabashed leader who said exactly what he thought. For those already against the Count, it only showed him as unhinged and unfit for his position.
Behind the scenes, and away from the press, Yegorov continued making his moves across the Empire. In a closed Duma session Yegorov successfully passed legislation giving Minister of the Admiralty, Renzo Luchi Carrano, what amounted to be a 'blank check' to begin Oslad's own naval rearmament campaign. Carrano went immediately to work, and dockyards across the nation were expanded to better accommodate the sheer size and tonnage of new military-grade vessels which were now being planned for the Imperial Navy. If it was a new fight the Zellonians wanted, the Osladians would give it to them.
Elsewhere, in a bold move, the border stations that separated Boletaria from the Kalpian heartland now fell under military control and armed soldiers began holding posts across the Osladian-Kalpian border. In a statement released to the press, war hero and leader of the Voskreya Army Group that fought in Zellonia, General Gregory Yakovich, stated this was simply a measure to ensure border protections for both Osladians and Kalpians with the coming influx of more and more Kalpians attempting to make new lives in the hill-lands of Boletaria. However, many feared this was the first step in a much more undesirable plan.
Kalpian refugees in Dukovsta, Boletaria carrying all of their possessions on their backs. Of what was once only a mere thirty thousand, by 1901 nearly a quarter million Kalpians would be living in Boletaria.
Smoke in the South & Ships in the Harbor
While the guns fell silent in the north, they only started again in the south. It is rumored the initial barrages of the Tyrian-Redanian field guns could be heard so far north it startled Tangarian cattle herds and woke steppe-farmers. Regardless, as a long-time friend of the Empire it was expected by all nations that Oslad would make a statement on the war. In the hours following the first shelling of Itheraen land the prime minister's council convened and discussed their next move. It was a tricky situation, with the Tyria-Redanian embassy requesting the allowance of Kalpian goods to go through the Tangarian steppe and to the front to aide the fighting Tyria-Redanian army. Of course this issue alone was a fierce topic, could the government in good conscious allow Kalpian supply convoys to trample through Tangary, the homeland of the prime minister none the less. However, at the same time Tyria-Redania was an important ally to the Empire and their continued survival was paramount to the survival of Oslad as well. It seemed Yegorov's hands were tied, and he permitted the Kalpian requests to advance from the border and begin a supply line to Tyria-Redania. The following morning, on the the 6th of September, Yegorov made a statement outside the Duma to the Osladian and international press.
"Gentlemen I'll make this quick. No, any rumors of an Osladian intervention into this war between our brothers in the Tyrian-Redanian Empire and the Republic of Itherae are just that, rumors. My government, which has only recently ended a war against Zellonia, will not in good conscious march our war-weary men south to fight in a new conflict. However, the Osladian Empire stands in fierce solidarity with the Tyrian-Redanian Empire. I have been an outspoken critic for many years of the dangers of republicanism and liberal thinking, and this only further proves my beliefs. You see, the war now starting between our southern allies and the Itheraens is not merely a war of land and titles, it is a war of ideology. It is simple dialectics you see, the two great contradictions, the thesis of monarchy against the antithesis of liberalism. This great conflict of ideas has been brewing since the days of the revolutions in the 1830s, which saw great dynasties fall and these fledgling republics rise in the first place! The end of the 19th century has only brought us a new era, but the conflicts of the era before us remain. The sins of our fathers remain unrepentant, and it is the duty of all god-fearing good people such as those now fighting in Tyria-Redania to slay the demonic serpent of liberalism and republicanism and bring forth a golden age for tradition and all that is right about our tried and tested way of life. So I urge all good Osladian, Boletarian, Loreni, and Tangarian men who wish to be apart of the great counter-revolution to stand up now and join as volunteers to the Tyrian-Redanian army! They need good men such as you to fight for what is right!"
The statement caused uproar among the Liberal-Democrats, Agrarians, and even the Kadets. While no official military order had been given, the Prime Minister had made his point clear, the Empire would do whatever it could to assist Tyria-Redania without a direct declaration of war or an alliance. However, it was yet to be seen the results of the statement or if anyone would truly join a 'Osladian volunteer corp'.
Meanwhile, a request came to the desk of Minister of the Admiralty Carrano. The Seljuk Empire, a sick man of the continent who was but a hollow shell of it's former self, had come requesting the Empire construct light cruisers for the Sultan's small navy. While it wouldn't directly aid the Empire in this 'arms race' against the Zellonians that was now brewing, it would, in the long term, form a bond between the Osladians and the Seljuks, who had been at odds with the Radenans for some time. Thus it was decided to accept the design request and by mid-October Kirov-class cruisers would begin the slow push to the assembly process.
A Kirov-Class Light Cruiser, circa 1901.
1. Construction of 3 Kirov Class Light Cruisers for the Seljuk Sultanate. (To be attained by 1901)
2. Construction of 3 Kirov Class Light Cruisers for the Osladian Empire (To be attained by 1902)
3. The construction of 5 Kashin Class Destroyers for the Osladian Empire (To be attained by 1902)
On the 16th of May the Zellonian government agreed to a ceasefire. For the first time since the Osladian Imperial Army landed on the shores of Nervinton, the guns had fallen silent over Zellonia. The Osladian government immediately went to work preparing a diplomatic delegation to send to Liubeth, Kalpia to push the Osladian agenda. Among those chosen was the aging Niko 'Old Silver' Shklovsky, who served as both the Empire's Minister of Finance and Head of the National Bank of Oslad. He was accompanied by his apprentice, the young up-and-coming Secretary of the Treasury Stojan Brodszky, who much took after Old Silver. Joining the pair was Lieutenant Admiral Kazimir Benda, the personal assistant and trusted advisor of one Renzo Carrano, the Minister of the Navy, who could not be present himself. Osladian Minister of Security, the serious and astute Srdjan Orlov, was also there, as was Zhivko Litvak, Orlov's chief underling as the head of the Security Bureau. Minister of Supply & Production Lubos Yankovic—a close friend and political ally of the 'Count of Black' Vasilyev Yegorov—was there too, as was Yegorov himself, proudly leading the group. Finally, Oslad's ambassador to Kalpia, Nicholai Dolgorukov, rounded out the delegation.
Citizens of Liubeth gathering outside the Municipal Assembly to observe the arriving delegates.
By the 20th of May the delegation departed for Liubeth, arriving two days later shortly ahead of the Zellonian delegation. After a lunch-in and small-talk among the attending diplomats, opening statements were made and the agenda of the Conference was decided upon. The Osladian delegation immediately went to work pushing the issue of the Oslo-Zellonian strait and the fate of the powerful Zellonian navy. However, the Kalpian delegation in a strange move debated against the issue in favor of a return to the pre-war status quo, a move that left many within the Osladian delegation bitter towards their war-time 'allies'. By the end of the first conference, the Osladian delegation had been entirely shoved to the side in favor of Zellonian and Kalpian demands. Speaking for the first time since he arrived, Count Yegorov decried the entire conference as a sham saying "These half-witted cravens would demand us to sign a treaty that would bring shame to every Slad from Oslograd to Seosong!" and stated that his delegation would not dare sign the treaty under the agreed upon terms. On June 5th the delegation left the conference and a telegram was sent back to Oslograd informing the military high command to make preparations for a new offensive effort against Vorl. However, 3 days later on the 8th the Zellonian delegation came forward and announced their intention to allow the Empire and the Kalpian Republic to put forward new terms for a Zellonian capitulation.
The Osladian delegation returned to Oslograd with the results of the second conference shrouded in mystery, with many today believing this lack of information being intentional for Count Yegorov's 'grand reveal' to the Duma on the 10th.
"Esteemed members of the Duma. When I left our beautiful capital nearly a month ago, many doubted what my administration could accomplish. Perhaps these doubts were not misplaced, as I am sorry to say that no agreement was made. No my friends, I do not bring a treaty of equals to the Duma today. I bring nothing but absolute victory! When I proclaimed the first Liubeth conference to be a farce, and the Kalpians as mere opportunist traitors to our united front, the Zellonians crumbled! They saw our fiery both on the battlefield and at the diplomatic table, and now they bow to our superiority! The terms of the second conference shall be made public within the coming days, and I am proud to have been able to lead such a diligent and honorable group of men to bring this glorious nation the victory she deserved. Hail our glorious nation, and hail Oslad!"
3 days after the Prime Minister's speech the results of the second Liubeth conference were released, with diplomat to Kalpia, Nicholai Dolgorukov, signing the treaty and ratifying the Osladian approval of the results. Finally, after over a year, the war was over.
Kalpian, and Osladian diplomats signing the demands sent to Zeel on June 13th, 1900.
To explain the rise of Holtzism in Radena and Oslad, one most look to Tyria-Redania and Tara. Erwin Holtz was born in May of 1818 to Emil Holtz, a middle-class lawyer, and Jana Fein, the heiress to a successful vineyard on the coast of Tyria-Redania. Growing up with little unfulfilled needs or unachieved desires, Erwin was the poster-boy for the average upper middle-class Tyria-Redanian during the economic boom of the Empire in the early 19th century. Attending the university of Tannerburg at the age of 17, the young Holtz disobeyed his father's wishes and began studying philosophy and literature as opposed to law as his father had demanded. Within months of beginning at the University, Erwin found himself associating with small yet radical cliques of young poets and upstart philosophers known as 'The Tannerburg Tavern Society'. The Tavern Society was a group monitored heavily by the local constabulary for their ideological leanings against the overtly conservative and monarchical state, and tensions were high whenever the constables and Tavern members encountered one another. After a incident in which a drunk Erwin outright challenged an officer to a duel and was subsequently arrested, his father had Erwin transferred to the University of Aetoria in 1835.
Within a year of study in Aetoria Erwin had fallen in love with the young Baroness Emma Bernauer and the two became engaged in 1837. Between his love-struck heart and endless curiosity, Erwin delved deeply into his studies and by 1839 had published two fiction novelettes and by 1840 finished his doctoral thesis. Over the next three years the young upstart writer and journalist would begin publishing opinion pieces within radical leftist newspapers in Aetoria and associating with the growing leftist philosophical clique in Violette. After a legal battle over his publishing house with the Tyria-Redanian government in 1843, Holtz would move himself, his wife, and his first son west to Confluence, Violette, to start a new life.
Upon arrival in Confluence, Holtz utilized his connections within the city's cultural elite and settled with decent furnishings within the city proper. Soon afterward he immediately began continuing his previous work and cooperating with the 'mutualists', a group of radical Veletian thinkers and journalists. Among these mutualist thinkers was a fellow Tyria-Redanian by the name of Alfred Bischoff, whom Holtz would immediately attach with and the two would eventually begin cooperating on the pamphlet that would create a new era of political thinking.
Artist's depiction of Erwin Holtz and Alfred Bischoff printing 'The Communalist Theory', circa 1862.
In 1848, Erwin Holtz and Alfred Bischoff began printing en-mass 'The Communalist Theory'. The radical piece detailed a post-monarchical society in which social and economic classes did not exist and the world worked together communally for the benefit of all. The piece was groundbreaking, radical, and horrifying to the traditional academia and elite within Violette, and by 1850 both Holtz and Bischoff would be forced to leave the country, fleeing to the Empire of Tara. However, what had been done was done, and the new theory of Communalism had spread like wildfire through the philosophical and political circles across the Continent, cementing it's place as a new ideological contingent in the ever-growing anti-monarchist movement.
Among their other works, Holtz would publish 'The Capital' in 1854 and Bischoff's 'Socialism: Utopian and Scientific' in 1860 would continue to detail the communalist, now known as Holtzist, theory. In 1885, at the age of 67, Erwin Holtz would die of a severe case of the flu, leaving behind four children and his wife. In 1892, Bischoff would follow his life-long friend into the afterlife.
Despite their deaths, the ideas of Holtz and Bischoff lived on. Read aloud quietly by literate workers to their illiterate 'comrades', and debated among the scholars and thinkers, Communalism was discussed and preached. However, like all radical ideologies unable to work with the established governments of the Continent, communalist political parties were banned in most countries and their theories, alongside those of mutualism and socialism, were actively fought by 'the reactionaries' wherever they were found. The first party to advocate communalist thinking that was legally allowed to work started in the Tsardom of Radena in March of 1901; the Socialist Party split from a small minority of social democratic and agrarian thinkers and formed their own minor party within the nation with only a paltry 317 members.
While the movement remained minor within Radena, the more philosophically inclined western Sladics had quickly begun to embrace communalist theory, and it was a consistently debated issue within the Agrarian Front as to how far would their leftist rhetoric truly go. With threats of splitting the Front as early as 1893, the Agrarians were consistently under threat of falling to pieces. Finally, the ax came down in 1901, shortly after the rise of Yegorov and the stealing of seats from the Liberal-Democrats. Seeing a chance to finally gain breathing space from their 'quasi-socialist' Agrarian comrades, the Social Democratic Worker's Party split from the Agrarian Front in May of 1901 and officially became the second party on the Continent to adopt socialism and Holtzism as official ideological tendencies.
Leo Dubinski's 'Strike' depicts a leftist agitator rousing laborers to strike. Circa 1895