Alternate History

Cornwall (Celtic Rules)

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Kernow (Cornwall, OTL) is a natural political entity, located in the South Western peninsula of Britain. It is bordered on three sides by sea and on the fourth side by the River Tamar.

System Of Government

Kernow's system of government has persisted largely uninterrupted from the late iron age to the present day, with the exception of the "Years of Tyranny" (late 16th to mid 17th century O.K., see History below).

Kernow is ruled by an elected Council of 33 Druids and a Monarch. The Monarch is subject to the Council in all matters.

Although the position of Monarch is hereditary, a Monarch who is considered to be unsuitable can be replaced with a non-hereditary successor if a majority of the Council vote to take this step. In practice, only four monarchs in recorded history have been replaced in this way (see History below).

Kernow is a constituent part of Dumnonia (Cornwall and Devon, OTL). The Monarch of Kernow is an equal partner with the Monarch of Dewnens (Devon, OTL). (The system of government in Dewnens is similar to that in Kernow). Dumnonia therefore is ruled by two Councils and two Monarchs. On occasions, Druids have been members of both Councils at the same time, most notably Lowenna Anwynn (7th century O.K., see History below).


In the late Iron Age (2nd to 1st centuries O.K.), Kernow and Dewnens appear to have been locked in incessant low level border warfare. The growth of Roman power at this period, and the consequent threat to Celtic Gaul, led to the convention of the Great Council of British Druids (1 O.K.). One welcome consequence of this convention was a settlement between Kernow and Dewnens establishing the Kingdom of Dumnonia, jointly ruled by the Monarchs of the two territories (see System of Government above) which ended the conflict between the two states.

Shielded from the Roman attempts at invasion (1st and 2nd centuries O.K.) and from the Angle and Saxon attempts at invasion (6th and 7the centuries O.K.) by the successful defence mounted by the eastern British tribes, Kernow was relatively secure from hostile incursions until the advent of the Morladron (Vikings, 10th to 12th centuries O.K.).

The first recorded Morladron raid on Kernow occurred at Pennsans (Penzance, 948 O.K.). Dissatisfaction with the response of the then Monarch, Gwylym, to this and subsequent raids resulted in the replacement of the Monarch by the Council for the first time (955 O.K.). The new monarch, Mark I, was selected unanimously by the Council. Gwylym was banished and was afforded guest status by the ruling dynasty in the Catuvellaunian region (South Eastern Britain), to whom he was related by marriage.

One of the first acts of the new Monarch was to establish a standing army in Kernow, the Lu. At the battle of Truru (999 O.K.), the Lu led by Prince Mark (later Mark II) and Druid Penntir Anfur defeated a large Morladron invasion force which had sailed up the River Fal. The Lu has assisted in the defence of Britain and of other Celtic lands on various occasions since its formation, in alliance with the armies of other Celtic states.

Although she lived some 350 years before Mark I came to power, Lowenna Anwynn is credited with establishing the mechanism by which he was elected. Tasked with revising the Brehon Laws of Kernow, she foresaw a situation in which a power struggle could arise between the Council and the Monarch, and she thus enshrined within the revised Laws the precedence of the Council over the Monarch. Since Anwynn completed her revisions (606 O.K.) each Monarch has sworn adherence to the Laws and the Council on accession to rule.

During the Middle Ages, Kernow prospered and was largely peaceful. It exported tin and copper to the flourishing Celtic regions and beyond. This golden age came to an abrupt end in the 16th century O.K..

The House of Anfur which had begun with Mark I lasted until June 1598 O.K. in which month the 17 year old Monarch Petroc VII died in battle. At this time the eastern Celtic States were at war with hostile Russian forces and Petroc had led the Lu in support of the Celtic allies. Petroc left no heir and, fearing a power vacuum, the Lu withdrew from the war to return to Kernow. Although the Council was convened, Henry of England (Denmark, OTL), son of the English (Danish, OTL) King Henry VIII, claimed that he was the next legitimate Monarch of Kernow, as he and Petroc shared the same maternal grandmother (this claim is still disputed).

Henry arrived in Kernow in August 1598 O.K. with a heavily armed "bodyguard" of some 10,000 English (Danish, OTL) soldiers. With the Lu not yet returned from the east, the Council had no option but to accept Henry's accession.

Henry's reign from 1598 O.K. to1649 O.K. is usually referred to as the "Years of Tyranny". Upon its return, the Lu was promptly disbanded, and Henry proceeded to install officials from the English (Danish, OTL) court to high office in Kernow. The authority of the Council and adherence to the Laws was gradually eroded, so that when Henry passed a bill disbanding the Council in 1630 O.K. there was no overt resistance from the Council itself.

Henry also moved to make English (Middle Danish, OTL) the language of the Court in Kernow, in place of the traditional Kernewek (Cornish, OTL).

Resistance to Henry's rule was gradually increasing however, and in 1633 O.K. the disbanded Council met in secret. Many towns in Kernow still claim to be the place where the outlawed Council was convened, although most historians believe that the Council met in Dewnens (which was still under Celtic rule), possibly in Tavi (Tavistock, OTL).

In order to minimise civil conflict, the Council determined to bide their time until Henry's death. Henry had determined that he should be succeeded by his son, also called Henry. The Monarch Henry died at 2.15 a.m. on 21st January 1649 O.K.. When the Court awoke, they found the Castle at Lanhydrock, Henry's power base, surrounded by the Lu which had reformed and trained in secret. All over Kernow, officials installed by Henry were awoken by soldiers of the Lu sent to arrest them. The Castle guard prepared to give battle against the Lu, but discovered that most of their weapons had been sabotaged. A small skirmish ensued, but the guard could offer little effective resistance.

Later that day the Council met openly for the first time in over half a century. They decreed that all those who had supported Henry should be banished from Kernow, along with his son who returned to the English (Danish, OTL) court.

A key to the success of the restoration of Celtic rule in Kernow was the fact that many of the soldiers in Henry's original "bodyguard" had become integrated into society in Kernow, many of them taking Cornish wives. Henry had not treated his "bodyguard" much better than the native Celtic population, and consequently many of them readily accepted the overthrow of the English (Danish, OTL) regime and the restoration of the Celtic state.

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