THE YEAR IS 1429. It is the height of the Hundred Years War. England has the upper hand.
The French city of Orléans has been under siege for close to a year. It remains the last major stronghold of the Kingdom of France. It took the reportedly holy miracles of a young woman by the name of Joan to lift the siege and inspire the French armies to drive the English out of France. The martyred Joan became immortalised as Joan of Arc.
But what if this Maiden of Orléans did not appear? What if there was no Joan to save the French from the siege?
Points of Divergence
Joan of What? has more than one Point of Divergence (PoD), despite this timeline's name. The first, however, and the most critical, is as follows.
During Joan's early life, it is known that her village was ravaged by several raids, being a French loyalist community surrounded by hostile Burgundian lands. On one occasion, the village was even burnt to the ground. It may well have been possible that Joan was killed in one of these raids, before she ever could have become the legendary figure she is today.
As a result of Joan's early death, she would have been unable to come to the aid of the French city of Orléans, and it is probable that without Joan of Arc, the city would have fallen to the English. England would have achieved total victory over France, the final stronghold of French resistance vanquished. England and France is unified into the Kingdom of England and France.
1606: Janszoon's arrival
The next significant point of divergence from the original timeline occurs in 1606, when Dutch explorers led by Willem Janszoon landed on the shores of Cape York in what is today Queensland. He proceeded to chart the whole northern and western coasts of the new continent, but made no attempt at settlement. But what if they made landfall instead on the fertile shores of what is today the city of Perth?
Impressed by the river and sprawling bushlands of the area, the Dutch chart the western and northern coasts of the continent, before sailing back to the Netherlands, encouraging their leaders to settle on what they have named New Holland.
And so they do.
In 1614, the colony of New Holland, with its base on Port Nassau, is proclaimed, and the continent is claimed for the Netherlands.
- Joan of What? is now open to proposals! Submit yours now!
- STATEHOOD REFERENDUMS
- Statehood approved – 8 July 2017
After the referendums held yesterday in all five internal territories, it has been confirmed that Bali, Flores, Moluccas, Sumba, Sumbawa will all be admitted into the Federation as new States. The Senate Committee on the Territories has confirmed a schedule of admissions. The five new States will hold admission ceremonies in alphabetical order. Ellingham Palace has also announced that the Emperor will be travelling with the Imperial Family to each new State's capital for the festivities.
- RESULTS CONFIRMED
- Marriage Act Amended! – 17 June 2017
After several days of uncertainty, it has been confirmed that a double majority has been achieved for the referendum held on 14 June. 61.6% of all valid votes approved of the changes to the Marriage Act. The Cygnian Electoral Commission announced that non-heterosexual marriage is now legal!
- INAUGURATION DAY: Special Report – 5 May 2017
Today is a big day for both the Imperial Family and the Empire itself, for this is the day when Emperor Theodore V is due to abdicate in favour of his eldest son, who is currently the Duke of Augusta. At 11am today, the Emperor will sign the official abdication documents, and at noon the Duke of Augusta will be administered the Oath of Office by the President of the Senate on the west front of Ellingham Palace. Preparations have been underway at Federation Hall for several weeks on the lead-up to the inauguration, and it will be a first in Imperial swearing-in ceremonies — both coronations and inaugurations — because this inauguration will be the first time the incoming Emperor's predecessor will be present, for obvious reasons.
- UPDATE — 11:00am
- Theodore V has signed the abdication documents. He is thus no longer Emperor of the Cygnians. By law, the Duke of Augusta automatically accedes to the throne; however, the Duke has refused to accept the title until he is actually inaugurated.
- UPDATE — 12:00pm
- The Duke of Augusta at 12:00pm WST accepted the Oath of Office. Immediately afterward, the President of the Senate, Senator Sue Lines, proclaimed him Emperor Alexander III of Cygnia to rapturous and thunderous cheering and applause. The new Emperor immediately thereafter made his consort, Catherine, his Empress, and then invested his eldest son, the young Prince Ellory, with the Dukedom of Augusta, a title previously held by the Emperor himself. Long live the Emperor!
- The Rush for Statehood: Territories invoke Third Amendment – 10 Apr 2017
As of today, the Territory Committee has approved the requests of all the territories – Bali, Flores, Moluccas, Sumba and Sumbawa – to set a referendum on statehood. The governments of Flores, Moluccas, Sumba and Sumbawa have all declared that they will have their referenda on the same day as Bali's – 7 July. It is projected that the referenda will pass in all five territories, meaning that come the end of July, Cygnia will be a federation of 23 states.
- Territory Committee approves statehood referendum – 2 Apr 2017
Bali officially began the journey to statehood yesterday when the two Balinese Senators delivered an official letter from the office of the Governor of Bali to the Senate Committee on Territorial Affairs requesting that the Senate grant a statehood referendum to the people of Bali. At 2pm WST today, the Committee issued its response, declaring that Bali had met all prerequisites for statehood, and that the Federal Government would permit the Governor of Bali to set the date for a referendum.
The Governor of Bali, in response, broadcast an announcement to the Balinese people, setting 7 July as the date for the referendum. It is expected that Balinese will vote overwhelmingly for statehood, as there has been a significant movement in the territories in recent years for federation with the rest of the Empire. It is speculated that the inertia that will result from this referendum will encourage the other territories to formally seek statehood.
- Bali to launch statehood bids – 27 Mar 2017
Bali's Governor, I Made Mangku Pastika this morning announced that the Balinese Government will on 1 April invoke Section 5 of the Third Amendment to the Imperial Constitution. This will begin a process that will culminate in a referendum, the success of which will result in Bali's entrance into the Federation as the 19th State.
- LGBT Referendum announced – 29 Jan 2017
At a press conference this morning, the Chancellor announced that he had finally succeeded in pushing the Marriage Act Amendment Referendum Act through Congress. This new law has resulted in the calling of a national referendum, to be held later this year. The Chancellor said that the referendum is currently scheduled for 14 June 2017, and confirmed that the referendum would include the question on altering the words "Marriage means the union of a man and a woman" to "Marriage means the union of two people", thereby allowing LGBT couples to marry.
The response to the announcement has been varied. Pride and Pro-LGBT groups support the referendum; some conservative, right-wing groups oppose the referendum, saying that it "violates Constitutional proceedings and precedent" – referring to the unorthodox way in which the legislation is being changed – while others support it, declaring that the "will of the people to finally put this question to rest – that tradition stands – will be heard."
- Tragedy on Australasia Day – 26 Jan 2017
Two airmen are dead after an Air Force light plane crashed into the Swan River in I.C. during the annual Australasia Day airshow. This tragedy has compounded the deep emotion of today, which commemorates the 72nd anniversary since the armistice between Cygnia and Australie, ending World War III in Australasia.
- May signs Exit letter; delivered to President Tusk – 29 Mar 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May's letter to European Council President Donald Tusk at 12:00 BST today invoked Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, beginning the process which will ultimately withdraw England from the European Union.
- Deadly rampage on Bussell Hwy – 21 February 2017
A driver has gone on a deadly rampage on the Bussell Highway in The Capes, a major artery connecting the cities of Bunbury and the state capital of Augusta. A video capturing the horrific event shows the Land Cruiser swerving violently before veering onto the right side of the highway – directly into oncoming traffic. It ran dozens of vehicles off the road as they desperately attempted to avoid it, before the driver plowed into a white SUV, killing a 61-year-old woman. A 54-year-old female passenger was pulled from the SUV; she remains in a critical condition. The rampaging driver – a 45-year-old man, somehow survived the incident, but he too is critical.
- RUSSIA VOTES 2017 – PRESIDENT ZYUGANOV – 15 February 2017
The Federal Electoral Commission officially announced early this morning in Saint Petersburg that Deputy Gennady Zyuganov of the New Socialist Party had secured the majority of states required to win the presidential election. It was a tense and extremely close race, with both Zyuganov and incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev constantly one-upping each other on the state count.
There was some speculation that the national popular vote may have had to be used in a rare attempt to break a possible tie in the state count, but as it turns out it was not necessary, as Chechnya's votes were shown to be in favour of President-elect Zyuganov.
President Medvedev broadcast his concession speech at around 3:30 AM Petersburg Time. President-elect Zyuganov will be making history when he takes office in May, as he will be the first non-UR president in almost half a century.
Mass demonstrations of support for the new President-elect began shortly after the announcement in cities where support for him runs strongest, such as in Saint Petersburg itself, as well as in Helsinki, Warsaw and Riga. Exit polls in the western states suggest great optimism and excitement for the Zyuganov presidency. In contrast, some of the more conservative Asian and eastern states have expressed desires to maintain the current government under President Medvedev.
- RUSSIA VOTES 2017 – Polling day – 14 February 2017
The polls have closed, and the Federal Electoral Commission has started work on counting the votes for the presidential election.
Based on the latest polls conducted yesterday, it appears that Gennady Zyuganov will narrowly emerge as the victor in the presidential election, which will result in a historic event, as no other party other than UR has managed to secure the Peterhof in recent history. Support for Zyuganov is strongest in major urban areas, such as St Petersburg and Moscow, and also in the western states, such as Ukraine, Finland and Poland.
The outcome of the election will be determined by the number of states each candidate manages to secure a majority in. Should none of them achieve victory this way, the popular vote will then come into play.
- It has been confirmed in Finland that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in St Petersburg that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Krasnoyarsk that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Poland that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Moscow that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Kazakhstan that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Transcaucasia that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in East Siberia that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Latvia that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Estonia that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Lithuania that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Ukraine that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Moldova that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- New Socialist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov currently has a three-state lead on President Dmitry Medvedev.
- It has been confirmed in Yakutia that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Astrakhan that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Tajikistan that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- Currently, both Zyuganov and Medvedev are tied in the number of states they have won. It's neck and neck!
- It has been confirmed in Kyrgyzstan that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Turkmenistan that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Belarus that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Uzbekistan that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in North Caucasus that Medvedev has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Volga that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Uralia that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Karelia that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- It has been confirmed in Chechnya that Zyuganov has achieved victory.
- At 3:00 AM Petersburg Time on 15 February, it was confirmed that Chechen, the last state to be counted, went to Zyuganov. The Federal Electoral Commission has declared that Gennady Zyuganov will become our 12th President!
- RUSSIA VOTES 2017 – Debates – 12 February 2017
After two presidential debates between President Medvedev and Deputy Zyuganov, it appears that the electorate is beginning to swing in the Socialists' favour. Speaking confidently at Moscow University during yesterday night's debate, Deputy Zyuganov pledged that taxes on the working class will be dropped at the expense of the rich should he be elected, insisting that "a much-needed mow of the overgrown lawn that is Russian corporatism" is in order. Political scientists have come to a consensus that Zyuganov seems to be employing left-wing populist strategies to garner the vote. He has consistently denounced the UR for its alleged "lack of interest in the common people" and its "reliance on capitalism".
On the other side of the stage, incumbent President Medvedev pushed his opposing agenda of developing the economy through lower business taxes. He said yesterday night when asked about how he would compete with Deputy Zyuganov's plan to fund hospitals and schools using the revenue from his proposed corporate tax hike, the President responded by suggesting cutting funding from the defence and science budget. This was met with harsh criticism from Deputy Zyuganov, saying that that was "no way to treat the Russian people" and that the President would "do Russia a disservice if re-elected".
- RUSSIA VOTES 2017 – Split down the middle – 6 Feb 2017
With almost a week to go until election day, polls suggest that the Russian electorate is still evenly divided on who should become our next president. However, it appears that President Medvedev's plan to develop the economy has slightly more appeal than Deputy Zyuganov's tax increase strategies. The President has gained a one-point edge over his main opponent, but it won't be enough to get him across the line just yet.
- RUSSIA VOTES 2017 – It's neck and neck – 4 Feb 2017
Russians are evenly poised as the country prepares for the sexennial presidential election. President Dmitry Medvedev's campaign was officially launched early this morning as he asked voters to back his plan for lower business taxes to fuel growth over Deputy Gennady Zyuganov's alternative of higher taxes on the rich and business to fund vast new spending on hospitals and schools.
The president goes into the two-week campaign proper level pegging with competition that as recently as a few months ago was not even in the hunt. With a wafer-thin lead of 51-49 in the latest poll – or 50-50 if voter preferences are taken into account – the result cannot be predicted.