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The Duchy of Berg, Berg, is a small constitutional monarchy in western Europe. It is border by Cleves, Luxembourg, Munster-Westphalia, Mark, Sayn-Berleberg, Sayn-Wittgenstein, Julich, Union of Cologne and the Imperial City of Deutz. It is a member of the Holy Roman Empire. The capital is Dusseldorf and the population is around 2.2 million.
The Head of State is Duke Philip II.
The official language is German.
The currency is the Berg Taler (BGT).
Once a part of the Kingdom of Lotharingia, Berg became an independent county in 1101 as central authority dissipated.
Divided inheritance led Mark to split off in 1160 and thereafter Berg fell under the sway of the Archbishops of Cologne. A long struggle to reassert independence was successful after the War of the Limburg Succession and alliances with Brabant, then Anglia, kept Berg in the forefront of the machinations of the Western Empire. However, equally the Kings of Anglia were keen to keep the counties and duchies to their east divided to ensure their own supremacy. In this way any potentially advantageous marriages and unions were usually hoovered up by Anglia rather than benefit the smaller counties. Indeed the potential union of Berg with Julich (which would have encircled Cologne and potentially changed the course of the Fifty Years War) fell apart after the death of the Bergish heir Konrad during the German Civil War of 1383-86. Anglia made sure his widow, Mary, was married off to a Guelders noble rather than allow Julich to fall to another state.
The rich lands and towns of Berg, as well as its position on the Rhine, made it a favoured destination for armies during the frequent wars of the Empire. The loss of Anglia as a firm ally after the War of Anglian Succession gave it more freedom but also made it vulnerable. It was a prominent combatant in the 'Electoral War' (1523) which attempted to curb Luxembourg's power but this was a failure and several towns in Berg were subsequently occupied by Luxembourg until it could raise a 'release fee'. Trying to rebalance its position led it into alliance with Calenburg for which it received the accusation it was simply the 'Welfs' errand boy'. When the Reformation began to spread it was a eager convert, Duke Johann I championing the Lutheran faith not only for personal conviction but also to get out from under the thumbs of Cologne and Luxembourg. However this stance made it a target for its Catholic neighbours and Johann I had to fight off from his staunchly Catholic brother, his own wife and would eventually disown his own son. The Duchy would pass to the Neuberg family via his pro-Lutheran sister Jakobea and it duly joined the Schmalkaldic League to protect itself against Catholic reprisals. Alongside Calenburg it fought across much of central Germany for the Protestant cause. It saw heavy fighting in both Schmalkaldic Wars and within the breakaway Schmalkaldic Empire it was promoted to an Electorate.
Finally during the Fifty Years War it was utterly devastated. Cologne and Luxembourg made short work of its army in the opening years while a succession of Imperial and Schmalkaldic/Kalmar armies used the land as a open bank to raid and pillage. Berg saw some of the worst revolts during the latter stages as the demoralised and oppressed population. Duke Johann IV Gustav sued for peace with the Emperor in 1659 and thereafter a policy of strict neutrality managed to hold. The early peace meant it received no benefits at the war's close but it soon regained a modicum of stability. Depopulated and impoverished it was slowly rebuilt by the dynamic Johann IV Gustav and his son Philip I and it soon became a beacon for Germans, Dutch and others escaping devastation and disease in other states.
Indeed, even by the middle of the 18th century when many other states in Germany were still deeply troubled by the lingering affects of the war the Dukes of Berg were renowned for their building projects and art collections. It would one of the first states in Germany to industrialise boosted by fine supplies of coal and metals. Dusseldorf is regarded as the pre-eminent centre for chemical production in Germany.
The rapid population growth of the 19th and 20th centuries have led the bloated cities of Berg to be regularly condemned as slums and a great deal of public, and private, money has been spent to reform and clean up the haphazardly built urban centres. Even so, civil disturbances have been a regular feature of Bergish politics as politicians attempt to deal with the challenges of competing interests.
Berg is governed as a constitutional monarchy (albeit with an unwritten constitution) and is often described as a lawyer's paradise thanks to its complex legal code which differs considerably with its neighbours. The Dukes retain executive power but it is rarely used. Elections for the bicameral Reichstag are held every five years.
The current Head of State is Duke Philip II and his Chancellor is Maximillian Pesch.