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The United Counties of Hohenzollern, Hohenzollern, the Zollern Crescent, is small federated constitutional monarchy in Central Europe and part of the Holy Roman Empire. It is made up of the Counties of Hohenzollen-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen. It is bordered by Wurttemberg, three separate Hohenberg territories, an exclave of Austria to the north (as well as Austria-Bohemia proper to the south-east), Scheer, Zwiefalten and Rotteil. Across Lake Konstanz to the south is the Swiss Confederation. The de facto capital is Hechingen and the population around 354,000.
The heads of state are Count Karl VI of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Count Joseph Leopold of Hohenzollern-Hechingen.
The official language is German.
There is no official currency however both the Austrian Mark (AUM) and the Wurttemberg Gulden (WRG) are used.
Once a part of the Duchy of Swabia, the area fragmented following the disintegration of the Hohenstaufen lands in the late 13th century. The counts had already secured their authority over the sub-Alpine passes that form Hohenzollern, long important as an Imperial road between the Neckar and the Alpine passes but slowly lost ground to the Dukes of Wurttemburg thanks to continued financial issues. The family had already divided its properties once with the elder son of Count Frederick I taking the Burgraviate of Nuremberg (Bayreuth and Ansbach) and the Zollern branch slowly became indebted and unstable.
Vassalised by Wurttemberg the county stabilised somewhat and was a integral member of the Swabian League which defended Wurttemberg's sphere against the Swiss, Burgundy and the Bavarian duchies. In 1533 the county was divided into three by Jobst Nicholas II for his three sons. All three remained firmly Catholic during the reformation.
During the Fifty Years War there was a brief period in early 1634 when it was invaded by Hesse-Darmstadt troops from the Protestant side, however the counties suffered more from the constant movement of armies and enforced billeting on the Imperial side than actual war. Plague and starvation carried off approximately half the population in 1649 and allied Wurttemberg soldiers ransacked Hechingen castle in 1660, Sigmaringen suffering the same fate the year after. The counties never really recovered from the blow. The counts attempted to follow the trends of southern Germany by promoting culture and building fanciful castles but constantly short of funds it lagged considerably behind its neighbours. A growing steel and light manufacturing industry in the late 19th century helped buoy the counties up once more and rapidly improved living standards.
In 1904 the Landstags of the three counties built on previous personal agreements between the counts and voted to unify the states. In 1955 as agreed Hohenzollern-Haigerloch was absorbed and divided between Hechingen and Sigmaringen after its last count's death. This opportunity was used to rationalise the borders between the remaining two and integrate the counties' governmental institutions.
The internal combustion engine was designed and built in Hechingen by the inventor Maximillian Schärer in 1977. As the 'home' of automobiles various manufacturers including Schärer-Stüler have their headquarters and main factories in the state. The friendly rivalry between the factories is maintained in the annual 'Trials' held in the second week of October which test the speed, endurance and maneuverability of the newest models. Many other manufacturers from around the Empire, especially the automobile-mad Italians also send competitors. The state tends therefore to be very sensitive to any pro or anti-automobile legislation in the Imperial Diet.
Thanks to successive agreements between the counts and the Landstag(s) the single chambered Landstag holds most of the legislative power. Laws can be held up or delayed by a joint motion from the counts. Elections are held every four years.
The Heads of State are Count Karl VI of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Count Joseph Leopold of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The unifed Chancellor is Karl Lehner.
Each of the counties has a separate vote in the Imperial Diet.