Britannia

PLATE NO. 1

England, Cumbreland, Devland, Scotland, Ireland, Munkland, and Sark with surrounding countries.

Adjacent to the European mainland, Britain, otherwise known as the British Isles, or poetically by its Latinized name, Britannia, is an archipelago of three major islands and several minor islands. The insularity of the islands afforded the peoples there a high degree of protection from foreign invasions and guaranteed political autonomy even in the most testing times in history, while proximity to the rest of western Europea benefited local merchants and allowed astute rulers to interfere in foreign politics with relative impunity. Despite the favourable geography of the British Isles, however, the political history of Britain is still marked, ironically, by mass migrations and invasions, perhaps even more so, than the clash of local kings and queens.

I. Land

Though often pegged for overcast skies and dreary fog, the climate of Britain is remarkably unique. Referred to as maritime west coast, or temperate oceanic, it is one of the rarer climates found on earth. The islands experience mild temperatures year-round. The air is generally humid and cool. In summer, rain gives way to fair and dry weather. Snow falls in winter, but it is usually light and does not accumulate on the ground. There are similarities with the climates of western or coastal places in other continents of similar latitudes, but the ecology here is not as divergent from continental Europea as those places are from their adjacent lands. Forests are characterized by a mixture of pine with deciduous species like oak, birch, beech and willow. Almost all of the islands, however, have been completely altered by millennia upon millennia of agricultural activity, relegating much of the native forests to rugged highlands and parklands in the estates of the nobility. Today, the British Isles are characterized by canals, riverine lands, meadows, heaths, and undulating fields outlined by trees.

The most fertile part of Britain is the eastern half of the largest island, Albion. The land here sprawls low and is intersected by a great density of waterways, both natural and human-made. The north of Albion is dominated by the Scottish Highlands, which are now mostly bare of trees due to intensive animal husbandry. The west is under the regime of low mountains and hills of the Pennines, the limits of which, for centuries, acted as the first bulwark against invaders coming from the east, and crucially, became the last refuge of the Celtic Britons on Albion during a period of mass migration and cultural shifts in both mainland Europea and the British Isles. Other Britons migrated to France, settling in the modern land of Wales, and to the Cantabria of northern Iberia, for which the colony of Cantabria in the southern hemisphere was named. These peoples spoke a language similar to modern Devnish. The Devnish were able to maintain autonomy while under the suzerainty of the Anglo-Jutish kingdoms in Albion in part because they were protected by the Devnish Channel, which separates Albion from the island of Cernion. To the south of the main islands lie the Lenures and the Isles of Tot and Wight, sometimes referred as the Channel Islands, or just Sark. Sark is famous for its fortified tidal islets, many of which rival the grandeur of Mont Saint-Michel in neighbouring France, as well as natural features like The Needles between the Isles of Tot and Wight. Between Albion and the next largest island, Eirion, is the strategic Isle of Mann, which together with the wind-swept islands of the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, forms Munkland. Much of Eirion is low-lying like Albion, but considerably more boggy.

Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands.

Derived from the photo by Blisco, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

II. Folk


The people of Britain are said to be a melting pot of Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Jutish, Norwegian, and Norman blood, with a tint of ancestry from peoples who may have been similar to the proto-Iberian and Aquitanian peoples, and a new addition of bloodlines from distant regions like Indea and Guinea. Though it is certainly true that similar phenotypes of light hair and eyes sprout up across this part of the world, higher concentrations of such traits in northern England, Scotland, and Ireland suggest population replacement and absorption happened in only some areas, whereas cultural assimilation may very well have been the rule, as in Hungaria, Turcia, and other parts of Europea that saw major linguistic and cultural shifts. Empire from the 18th century to the 20th has also introduced people from abroad to parts of England, especially London, York, Bristol, and Brighton. It is said that a common novelty for visitors from mainland Europea is to sight the peoples with ancestries from the "Indies" and mixed-race people walking about the affluent districts of English cities in fine shirts and tweed, for, especially since the outlawing of slavery in Britain and its colonies, nowhere else in the region of Europea is there a more liberal approach to the co-habitation of peoples than in Britain, where, perhaps because of the more disruptive evolution of society that occurred in the Industrial Revolution, wealth could buy status more so than bloodline and lineage. It is ironic, then, that Britain should be one of the last bastions in the European region for the aristocracy and the belief in monarchism.

Linguistically, the native languages of Britain are Celtic, and Britain, along with Wales across the Norman Channel, is often remarked as the last refuge in Europea for the Celtic branch of the Indo-Europic language family. In antiquity, Celtic languages ranged from the Sperian Sea all the way to the Bay of Aquitaine, nearly spanning the entire central length of Europea. Due to major migrations and cultural shifts on the continent, Celtic languages receded at the expense of the Theodic, Slavic, and Ausonic branches. Moreover, nearly all remaining Celtic languages in the world are of the Insular Celtic subordinate branch, with languages in the other branches having gone extinct. The only exception to this is the Galatian language in Anatoliain western Asea—which has itself diverged due to the steady influence of neighbouring Hellenic, Turkic, Kurdic, and even Hittite languages. The Insular Celtic languages can be further divided into Goidelic and Brittonic, with the former languages stemming from the Isle of Eirion and the latter languages having their native core in southern Albion. The language of the Picts—the indigineous inhabitants of northern Scotland—is still not conclusively identifiable with either branches and could have formed its own subordinate branch. After the Roman Period, the range of the languages in these two branches shifted dramatically, with a Goidelic dialect continuum spanning frome modern-day Ireland to modern-day Scotland and the Brittonic languages experiencing heavy decline in the more fertile eastern portions of Albion due to contact with the Theodic settlers from the Anglo-Jutish Migration, which began in the 5th century and lasted up until the 11th century.

Ludlow Castle is a remnant of the border fortifications that once spanned the Cumbrish Marches.

Derived from the photo by Ed Webster, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Despite Eirion offering less productive lands, the island experienced rapid population growth in the 18th and 19th centuries with the introduction of new and higher-yielding crops introduced from Gemina. Crucially, the slow-to-mature pewen—sometimes referred to as the monkey-puzzle tree—from Chile came to be provide famine relief during the worst of the Irish Potato Blight Crisis, as the trees that were originally grown decades prior for timber plantations came to bear fruit all across the countryside just as the potato blight struck. Likewise, the initial stigma surrounding the new crop of quinoa, and its ease in being cultivated in marginal lands in the cool climate of Ireland, allowed the Irish peasantry to fall back on some food reserves while the rest of their crops either failed or were taken to be exported out of the country. The cities on both sides of the Cumbrish Marches also saw a massive population explosion around this time, but more so because of its coal deposits, making the entire area the centre of the British Industrial Revolution. Thus, although the British populated much of Hanunea and parts of the Southern Hemisphere, it was also the first to industrialize, and therefore, undergo rapid population growth. Northern Ireland, northern Cumbreland, and central England were the most industrialized regions in the world for the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite massive waves of emigration, Britain continued to be one of the most densely populated parts of the world. Emigration helped check problems of pollution and overpopulation, something that settlers of British descent in racially conservative countries of the Commonwealth ignore when lamenting the peril of immigration from non-European regions.

As eastern Albion has some of the most fertile land in the isles, England's population is comparable to that of France and Spain. It is nearly four times as large as the next most populated country in Britain, Ireland. Cumbreland and Scotland are of comparable sizes to Ireland, while Devland, Munkland, and Sark are dwarfed by their larger neighbours. Most of Britain's population is concentrated in lowland areas with access to the sea, either near safe harbours or a deep river, at a point upstream that would have been historically navigable by ships coming from sea. London, the political and cultural capital of England, as well as major economic hub in all of Britain, is at such a point of the Thames River. The next largest cities, being major centres of production, are Lerpwl, Bealfarst, Glaschu, Birmingham, Bristol, and York, followed by smaller cities with histories of intensive manufacturing, like Manceinion, Eideann, Doire, Calgary, and Cornwall. The capital cities of Dublin, Cardiff, and Perth are also quite populated, while cities like Icart, Rushen, and Ventnor are some of the most densely populated areas in the world.

III. Yore


Though relatively protected from most forms of invasions, Britain's coasts offered easy game whenever foreigners held the advantage at sea. Much of Britain's history, therefore, can be delineated by invasions, occupation, and settlement from across the English Sea and Norman Channel, each time followed by drastic social and cultural restructurings in local societies. After war, languages shifted or evolved with each new wave of migrants and settlers. The first of the major invasions came from the Romans, who penetrated only the southern parts of the islands. Then came the Theodic seafarers from Saxony and western Danemark, and later, Norwegian vikings. The most recent and far-reaching of these invasions was that by the Normans from France—themselves also of Theodic origins—who were able to incorporate all of the isles into one kingdom after finally conquering the kingdoms of Ireland.

Since the times of the Anglo-Jutish kingdoms to recent times, however, the cultures of Britain changed considerably less drastically than in previous periods of conquest. Though the Norman Conquest put the political states that came afterward into personal union, where different peoples shared the same ruling monarchy, the cultural boundaries between the realm of the Celts and the realm of the Anglo-Jutes have remained conservatively unchanged for nearly a millennium. Moreover, encroachments of the English language made in the early Norman period were slowly reversed in subsequent centuries. At one point, there was a English-Lallans dialect continuum area that spanned from Northumbria in England to the Scottish Lothians to Ulster and the Pale in Ireland, and then back across the Cumbrish Sea to the Brigant Pale in Cumbreland. The English language, however, never made it into all rungs of society in these areas, and the inertia of a greater native populace, combined with fewer policies of cultural imperialism by early Norman gentry—who were more interested in resource extraction than assimilation—led to native languages bouncing back.

In northern Ireland, just as Anglo-Jutish settlers coming from northern England and southern Scotland were fragmenting the native culture there, the older Anglo-Norman area of the Pale of Dublin was already well on its way in shifting towards the Irish language as English elites in the Pale became more and more "nativized." A similar history can be found in the part of Cumbreland known as the Brigant. The cities of Manchester and Liverpool, beyond the Cumbrish March, were for a long time outliers in that they were dominated by Anglo-Jutes despite being surrounded by Cumbrish-speaking Rheged and Gwyned. Urbanization and the filling of factories with illiterate Celtic peoples from the rural areas reversed the language dominance of the burghs in the 19th century, and the Brigant slowly became a Cumbrish-speaking region like the rest of Cumbreland. In Scotland, especially the burghs in the area known as the Lothian, as well as coastal areas settled by Norwegian vikings, were slowly encroached upon by rural to urban migrations from the Gaelic highlands in the 15th and 16th centuries. This, coupled with romanticist notions of the Scottish Highlands, which strongly informed Scottish nationalism through contrasts with Anglo-Jutish England, led to a social movement that saw burghers align their England-defying politics with the culturally defiant highlands. Highlanders came to dominate Scottish politics also through the political maneuverings of the Jacobites, who were later paid off by with titles to the Lothian to prevent continued warfare and rebellions in Scotland, fragmenting the Lallans-speaking area further.

Industrialization caused mass migration from the Celtic countryside to Lallans-speaking Doire.

Derived from the photo by Alexey Komarov, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The islands that makeup Sark and Munkland are cultural outliers in Britain. Sark consists of the only linguistically Norman sections of Britain despite Norman dominance in all the British Isles for centuries. Sark's unique history is tied to the beginning of the Norman Conquest, when the Isle of Wight was granted as a separate Norman fiefdom. The fiefdom eventually included all of the Channel Islands as well as La Manche in mainland France, which was later relinquished at the end of the Hundred Years War. In a parallel way, Munkland, which was previously known as the Lordship of the Isles, is a holdover from the days of Viking dominance in Britain and the last remnant of Norwegian culture in the British Isles. The Celtic-Norwegian kingdom became politically united with Britain when the deemster of Mann accepted vassalage to the Scottish monarchs. Though the Norn language of earlier viking settlers did also melt into the language of the native majority—evolving into one of the three Celtic Goidelic languages, the other two being Irish and Scottish—Norwegian customs, foodways, and, as often noted by British peoples themselves, phenotypes are still quite apparent in this part of Britain.

Beginning in the Norman Period, the prestige of the Anglo-Jutish dialects went into decline, and interesting cultural shifts happened not only in Theodic England, but in the Celtic lands as well. For one thing, the Normans are indirectly responsible for re-introducing interest in the lore of King Arthur back to his supposed native land, and more importantly, brought with them a sizeable amount of Welsh nobility to resettle lands their forebears had abandoned during the expansionary period of the Anglo-Jutish Migration centuries before. The geographical shifts back towards Celtic languages in Britain, however, occurred relatively undetected by Anglo-Jutish political elites as by that time the shift had become more remarkable, religious strife had begun to capture British politics. Christian since the time of Roman rule, the Protestant Turn in Britain saw the country become embroiled in sectarian violence, with most of it taking place in England and Ireland. In these times, religious sect, not language, was the main cause of friction and source of prejudice. Many powerful Irish families, for instance, became Protestant to retain power, just as many Anglo-Norman families with little Irish ancestry embraced the Irish language while later shunning the papism of the masses. Political turmoil ended with the successful push towards the emancipation and securing of rights for Catholics near the end of the 18th century.

Despite better rights after emancipation, however, Catholics still faced oppression. Persecuted Catholics, deemed as political extremists, were commonly sent to convict colonies in the 19th century. Many free Catholics also emigrated to the United States, and many also migrated to Brazil, Angol, and the nascent lands of Argentina at one point. The Irish Famine, though tempered by other marginal savior crops like pewen nuts and quinoa, also resulted in an exodus of Irish Catholics as they were the ones most affected from the plantation economy. Ireland was spared from population collapse only through some astute political intervention by parliament in Westminster, in which relief combined with local savior crops saved the majority of the populace from starvation. Today, Catholics are a minority in Britain, but Ireland has a majority and the largest share, with two thirds of the population being Catholic, and England is next with nearly a third, and many areas in the north of England are still Catholic-dominant. More than a quarter of Scotland is Catholic too, thanks to Jacobite measures of tolerance. Protestant Britain is further split in religious identity by the Presbyterian-Anglican split, with Ireland, Munkland, and Scotland following the Presbyterian Church, and England, Cumbreland, Devland, and Sark following the Anglican Church.

During the Home Rule Movement in the 1870s, the British Crown in England caved to the demands of Gaelic Nationalism in Ireland and Scotland, ending centuries of religious strife and leading to the devolution of the British parliament to separate parliaments in sovereign states known as “home countries,” which were still to be united under one monarchy as head of state. Thus, Britain devolved from being a political union back to a personal union between England, Scotland, and Ireland, which also entailed the separation of Devland and Cumbreland from England, as both had endured unions with England for far longer. The move to Home Rule also led to the evolution of Sark from fiefdom to country, as well as the re-ascendancy of Munkland to arrangements of self-rule not seen since the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles came under the suzerainty of the monarchs of Scotland.

Luckily for the United Kingdom, the peaceful transitions of power in devolution led to a united front in the wartime years to come at the onset of the 20th century. The British High Command was able to safely harbour two of its three home fleets in non-English regions, in Scappaflow in Scotland, and in Camysree in Mann, with the main fleet in Portsmouth. And yet, despite victory, pro-sovereignty movements still arose due to disagreements between the different parliaments in the immediate post-war period. The idea of countries within a country became awkward in a legal and political sense, and policies of devolution began to stall due to bureaucratic overload. Negotiations were thus made in which each home country would be allowed full sovereignty, while still retaining the same shared head of state, the British monarch, as well as shared recognition of noble titles like the Prince of Kent and those guaranteed in the peerages of each home country.

Much like the evolution of the countries of Norway, the transition from absolute rule to home rule to separate sovereign states was largely peaceful and gradual in Britain. Today, the United Kingdom refers to the economic union that exists between the seven states of England, Scotland, Ireland, Munkland, Cumbreland, Devland, and Sark, which enjoy the same political rights as the other commonwealth countries overseas, except they also retain ceremonial privileges and economic provisions carried over from the home rule period. In Britain, the status of these states is often referred to as being dominions, but unlike the dominions in multinational federated states such as Nicaragua, California, Arizona, or even within the context of the United States, these British dominions are fully sovereign and not just autonomous territories within a larger state. Each British country is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The head of government is the prime minister, and the head of state is the reigning monarch.

IV. Scape


The cultures of Britain share similar foodways and practices, and the human imprint on the land has rendered landscapes that look both quite European and yet standalone. Life in England can be summed up with popular imagery, of the thatched roofs of Norfolk and Suffolk, the seaside towns of Sussex, the gently rolling parishes of Kent, the spires and Gothic stone facades of Yorkshire and Oxford, and the modern motorways and underground stations of London. Though the glories of the British Industrial Revolution are long past, Cumbreland remains one of the most industrialized parts of Britain, and Munkland's cannery towns continue to rake in unyielding profits in direct competition with their counterparts in Portugal. In Scotland and Ireland, where it is commonly said that sheep are just as common as humans, forests of the introduced pewen tree and fields of quinoa, once alien to the land, are now romanticized as essences of local landscapes. And Sark continues to be a world apart, iconic for its horse-carriages on its car-free islands juxtaposed by the use of hovercrafts for inter-island ferry services across the Norman Channel.

Traditionally, the corn of Britain was wheat, barley, and oats, the latter being especially important staples in the cooler parts of Scotland, Munkland, and Ireland. A major addition to the crop package was the introduction of the potato from Crucea, specifically cold tolerant varieties from Chile. At first shunned due to a general European fear of nightshades, the potato was finally cultivated in quantity in Ireland, parts of England, and Scotland in the early 19th century, greatly increasing the caloric intake available to British peasants, especially so in Ireland. The countryside at harvest time soon became littered with upturned potatoes, the fields having been cultivated easily by poorer peasants and tenant farmers.

The main pulse of the region, like much of Europea, was the pea, and most people continue to eat peas as a major source of protein. In Scotland, heathpea, a kind of bitter vetch plant known not so much for its pulse grain but for its edible starchy root, was a major food crop, and after steady domestication efforts, the root is now a crop of some cultural importance. Today, numerous varieties of the common bean, introduced from Columbea, are also cultivated here, as in western and southern Europea. Shellfish and tidal life like cockles, periwinkles, whelks, clams, mussels, and oysters, were also readily affordable even after the onset of marine pollution during the Industrial Revolution. Like in Normandy in France and in Wales, people also harvested seaweed, particularly laver, and the British people are also lovers of mushrooms. Cheese-making has been a tradition since antiquity, a millennia before dairy began to be regularly consumed fresh by people in the cities. Preserved fish like herring, and later salmon and cod, were also relatively inexpensive, especially when factory tinning began. Munkland's economy is still largely based off of herring and cod stocks, partly due to the abundance of the Offer Grounds and the country's near-exclusive access to that part of the Irish Sea. The prized meats in the region are beef, lamb, and pork, though chevon is also eaten. Poultry like chicken, duck, and quail is commonly eaten among people of all social standings, as is rabbit, and venison and game fowl like pheasant, grouse, and partridge continues to be popular among the nobility and in rural areas.

Jellied eel with pie and mash was one of the first urban fast foods to appear in England.

Derived from the photo by AP Monblat, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Food in Britain traditionally relied upon herbs like mustard, mint, sorrel, parsley, chives, and dill for flavouring, though the capture of most of the Emporic Rim trade by the East Indea Company drastically shifted foodways in the area. For one, the British high society became largely reliant on tea to order much of their social lives, with meals and social gatherings often centred around the consumption of tea. With the success of the East Indea Company's plantations in Indea and Azanea, tea quickly became the main steep of choice for all classes. The liberal use of Indean and Sumatrean spices like black peppercorn, nutmeg, and cinnamon, as well as curries reliant on imported spices, is now also common. The development of gip, a type of fish sauce, and the fish-based mushroom ketchup through cultural diffusion with the people of Sumatrea and Serica also led to new ways to titillate the British palate. Historically, berry jams and honey were the only sweets available, but the wide availability of sugar, too, has opened a new frontier of cookery, making British cuisine renowned for sweet pies, tarts, biscuits, and cakes. Meat pies, meat loaf, jellied eel, mashed peas and mashed potatoes, and ham and sausages, are common processed foods found in markets.

Beer is the common beverage in this part of the world, with the exception of Cumbreland, Devland, and Sark. In those areas, wine is commonly consumed due to historic trade and periods of warming that allowed viticulture to gain a foothold on the British Isles, but even more commonly consumed is cider, with pommy being dominant in Cumbreland, and perry or pear cider being the preferred drink in Devland and on the isles of Sark. As for beer, the brewing traditions of Britain are quite varied, though almost all of them with the exception of certain porters are types of ale. Unlike in continental Europea, which switched to primarily using hops to make beer, old herbs and gruit are still commonly used in Britain to make various types of ales. The tradition of serving milds and old ale is still common at local pubs. Though unlike in Norway, the tradition of drinking small beer has disappeared. Hopped ales distinguished as stingo and bitter, the most famous of these varieties being the Extra Special Bitter, October ale, and the Indea Special Bitter, which was exported throughout the Emporic and Britain's colonies. Sour beers are also uncommon here, unlike in California, the United States, and western Europea. Excess corn is often brewed and distilled into gin in England and Sark and whiskey in the other countries. Whiskey is traditionally sold with regional distinction due to differences in production and type of corn used. The barley liquor from Scotland is known as Scotch, the barley liquor from Ireland as Eire, the buckwheat liquor of Cumbreland as Cambie, the oat liquor of Munkland as Manx, and the wheat liquor of Devland as Dewe.

Traditionally, like the rest of Europea, people raised sheep for wool and grew flax for linen, but cotton has been a major textile material ever since the exploits of the British East Indea Company in the Emporic Rim. Key innovations made during the Industrial Revolution put England, Cumbreland, and Ireland at the forefront of global textile manufacturing, and spurred the accumulation of wealth and capital in Britain. Combined with the East Indea Company's take-over and tight control of Bengal's famed textile factories, Britain became the chief supplier of cotton textiles in both the Atlantic Rim and the Emporic by the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Thus, nowhere in Europea is there so much cotton fabric available, and cheap as well.

Despite British people seeing themselves as distinct from their "continental" neighbours, generally, the fashion and aesthetics of Britain share a similar sensibility and mode as that of the rest of western Europea, especially France and Wales, and the countries of Netherlands. Women continue to wear shorter skirts by the generation, and men continue to wear suits and don on top hats for almost all occasions. Frilled fabric is no longer as common here as it is in Iberia, though ties, ribbons, scarves, and sashes continue to be common. Homes in the country continue to use thatch, wood, and cob, contrasting with the highly ornamental and decadent styles found in cities and the stately buildings of estates, government, empire, where stone, brick, iron, copper, and glass come together to form grand structures in the Neogothic and Imperial Classicism styles.



Footnotes

Support this project through PATREON to access extensive explanations, etymologies, and key sources.


Links

Irish (gle) or the Irish language:

"Wake Me Up / Lig mé saor" - TG Lurgan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1A6__HssHW8.

"Monolingual Irish Speaker" - AH Ghaeilge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP4nXlKJx_4.

Welsh (cym) or the Cumbrish language:

"Ysbryd y Nos" - Edward H. Dafis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCDtCXN-EH4.

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvtbdq3WiyU.

Scottish Gaelic (gla) or the Scottish language:

"Comedy about Native vs New Speakers..." - COST Action New Speakers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btg-aEPNiRg.

"Kate Forbes MSP Speaking Scottish Gaelic..." - FMLPanda123. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElosetpyVJ0.

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xVxOJCBPSw.

Cornish (cor) or the Devnish language:

"Kelly's Cornish Ice Cream..." - Kelly's of Cornwall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlNaz_zm2nM.

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UaAyI-uI30.

Manx (glv) or the Munkish language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZGyISJ3djo.

"Taggloo: Conversational Manx..." - Manx Language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4_OuAHW434.

Jerriais Norman French (nrf) or the Sarkish language:

"Jèrriais (Jersey French) speaker interviewed..." - SandF Underwood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87wVql8Bmw0.

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