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Hanseatic RepublicTimeline: The Once and Never Kings
OTL equivalent: Lüneburg, Hamburg, Mecklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein
Location of the Hanseatic Republic in green.
|Regional Languages||Danish, Frisian|
|-||Establishment of the unified Hansa||1462|
The capital, Hamburg, is the fifth most populous city in Europe, and the second largest port in the Holy Roman Empire (behind Amsterdam, Luxembourg).
The Hanseatic Republic began as a trade and defensive alliance known as the Hanseatic League. Member cities ranged from Amsterdam in Brabant, to Colgone, to Riga in Livonia. But the undisputed core of the League were the Free Imperial Cities of Hamburg, Lübeck, and Bremen. Several regional wars helped cement their alliance, as well as expanding their influence to the surrounding states.
Unfortunately, their strong incomes attracted the eyes of the ever expansionist Denmark, now ruling both Lade and the Svealandic Crown. But two wars saw the Danish armies throw themselves against the walls of the Hanseatic cities. Defeats on the battle field, with the Hansa supported by various Imperial states. After Denmarks was fended off for a second time, the three cities decided that their interests would be best served as a united state. The act of unification was ratified by all three city councils and approved by their prominent merchants in 1462, thanking the name "Hanseatic Republic".
The union would be tested only a few decades later, when the Reformation began sweeping through Germany, and eventually Europe as a whole. Street clashes between Catholic and Lutheran groups became common, but the state would become a majority Lutheran state by a large margin. Joining the Schmalkaldic League with fellow Protestant states, it would clash with the Catholic, and then-Catholic, Habsburg and Luxembourg Emperors in the Schmalkaldic Wars.
In 1555, it was decided, when the Empire as a whole agreed to tolerate Lutheranism, to grant freedom of worship to all their citizens. Despite this, the Hansa remained closer with fellow Protestant states than the Catholic ones.
That relationship came to fruition when Brandenburg-Prussia entered a previously regional war, spreading it to a Europe-wide conflict. When Denmark joined the Catholic side, Hanseatic armies swiftly invaded its southern territories. Linking up with Swedish armies near Schleswig, it supported the Protestant residents of Holstein declaring independence from Denmark, who they saw as "betraying" their co-religionists by joing the Catholics.
The short-lived "Republic of Holstein" was annexed by the Hanseatic Republic in 1644, an act that would be confirmed when The Forty Years War finally ended. As the warring states fought themselves to bankruptcy, a peace conference was called in Hamburg, so far the only capital not ravaged by the war. Various other issues were also resolved, and both the Holy Roman Empire and Francia agreed to accept Calvinism, in addition to Lutheranism.
The Hansa were quick to expand their reach beyond Europe. When the existence of the New World was revealed in the late fourteenth century, the Hanseatic cities were among the first to send explorers. After the unification, more serious attempts at establishing a presence could be made. A fort was constructed on the east coast of Eriksbjod, called New Hamburg. That fort would be expanded significantly as neighboring native tribes were subjugated. Several islands in the Caribbean were taken by the Hansa in the following years as it looked to keep up with other powers.
Forts in Africa also expanded over the decades, coalescing into the colony of New Flensburg on the Nigerian coast. The Hansa also found land in the scramble for Australia, taking the right cape on the north Australian coast, calling it New Bremen.
When word of Luxembourg's discovery of the New Zeeland islands reached the administration in New Bremen, the local governor sent a force to establish a presence on the yet-unclaimed north island. A battle between Luxembourgish and Hanseatic warships put tensions between the two countries at the highest they've been in their histories. Luxembourg, now also ruling the Kingdom of Jorvik, seemingly welcomed the oppritunity to forcefully take the entirety of the New Zeeland islands. War was a very real possibility, until the Auvergnian Emperor of Francia, Henry V, placed an imperial ban on Luxembourg in 1745, looking to take advantage of the stand off and take Luxembourgs Francian territories. Giving the vacant County (and electorate) of Toulouse to Aragon in return for it assistance, Francia declared war.
The Wittelsbach Emperor Louis VII demanded the two settle their dispute later and fight together. Secondary delegates from both met in Bremen, where they agreed to divide the islands between them: the North Island to the Hansa, the South Island to Luxembourg. The War with Francia saw heavy fighting in the Low Countries and Germany. A Hanseatic army was credited with halting a Francian push towards Antwerp, before advancing into northeastern Francia.
Though both would be overshadowed by Duke Stephan III of Milan, who almost single-handily pushed the Francia-Aragonese armies west of the Rhone and south of the city of Naples. Both Luxembourg and the Hansa would cast votes for Stephan when Louis VII died several years later.
Since the dawn of the new millennium, the Hanseatic Republic has undergone a massive naval modernization program, often drawing criticism. The Hansa has explored building a canal across the Jutland Peninsula, thus breaking the Danish stranglehold on Baltic trade. Denmark, however, has stated it would consider this an act of aggression against it.