Alternate History

Leifian Crisis (The Kalmar Union)

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The Leifian Crisis was a socio-economic event which caused misery across Leifia, though its effects were mostly felt in the eastern half. In essence a group of natural disasters conspired to create havoc on the continent with famine and disease killed many hundreds of thousands. Revolutionary ideas spread throughout the major cities and toppled governments, dragging many states into a prolonged period of warfare, both with each other and internally..

The beginning of the Crisis is usually dated to 16th December 1811 when a pair of earthquakes flattened the prosperous Aniyunwiyan city of Eskippakithiki on the Mississippi. Two further earthquakes in early 1812 devastated other towns to the north, cumulatively wrecking much of Aniyunwiya's river fleet. The earthquakes were felt over much of Eastern Leifia (the chimney pots rattled in St. Hafdiss). Produce from the area was effectively left to rot in the fields and food prices across Leifia rose as a result causing the inevitable social unrest that always followed.

In Álengiamark a scheme to help expand the farmland in the previously neglected Nanticokeland had underpinned the economy for several years. Money raised from share sales was used to set up new farms and the shareholders repaid with the farm's profits. At first this worked swimmingly, the farmland was good and the new farmers, at first Svealanders and Finns fleeing the effects of the Great Baltic War, of good standard. The profits were so astounding (much of Kristjanaborg was built on the profits) that Álengiamark's neighbours were also soon investing. Shares in 'the Cheasapeake Company' had been trading at extremely high prices throughout 1815, partly as a result of the Eskippakithiki earthquakes and the high food prices they had created. However many were sounding warnings; the land now being developed was not of good quality and could hardly be relied upon to produce the same profits, even at high prices. Moreover the new farmers were not experienced farmers from Scandinavia but poor labourers from the Álengsk city slums.

On 10th April 1815 in Sunda on the other side of the world the Tambora volcano erupted, one of the most powerful eruptions ever recorded. The sheer volume of rock blasted into the atmosphere lowered temperatures across the globe leading many to dub 1816 as the 'year without summer' with snow falling in lowland Álengiamark in June. The Cheasapeake bubble burst in late summer as the full scale of the harvest failure became apparent. The shares soon became worth as much as the paper they were printed on. This almost immediately ruined Álengiamark's finances as well as several of their neighbours. Meanwhile the failure of the harvests on top of several bad years rocketed food prices. An ankar of wheat went from 12 ór to 97 ór. This caused famine and possibly helped stoke a severe typhus epidemic along the Atlantic seaboard.

Álengiamark began a fire-sale of all its non-essential expenses cutting away much of the rudimentary poor-relief and handing its half of Quisqueyanos its independence: probably the only instance of a country having been forcibly made independent. Meanwhile to stop being overrun by imports and support their own farmers most states raised import duties further pushing each other to financial ruin.

  • Six Nations was the first to suffer as the Onayotekaono and the Guyohkohnyoh nations attempted to cede from the union. A three year civil war followed wiping out what remained of the treasuries.
  • Passamaquoddia, which had previously been split into three autonomous kingdoms, had to recentralise to deal with the debts of the northern kingdom acerbating tensions. Civil War would rage between the central monarchy and republicans and regionalists from (1824-1827).
  • Abernakriga attempting to hide the horrific collapse of its finances under a wave of patrotism, invaded the Six Nations in 1824. The Elm War (1824-1826) did nothing but expose the weakness of the Abernaki crown and from 1826-1835 it experienced widespread revolt scaling back royal power. It would eventually abolish the monarchy in 1857.
  • Vinland much unnerved by the initial food price shocks, suffered a severe potato blight in 1821 which ruined the fortunes of Kyreyjan and Eikland farmers. Thousands would migrate to the western Hafsvaedaland provinces upsetting the long-established power-balance in the tribal areas. This triggered the Sauk Revolt (1824-1825) which was bloodily put down. However the unrest remained local rather than national.
  • Erie was hit by repeated famines, a product of its long-sought self-sufficiency and ingrained practices of serfdom. The government attempted to alleviate the burden of the serfs in 1835 but it backfired leading to a republican revolution and exile of the king. Vinland was goaded into restoring the monarchy in a short but successful war. This cultivated a feeling in Vinland that it had the moral right to intervene in neighbouring states' internal conflicts and embarked on several subsequent wars. While these wars did restore mild monarchical rule to the states the conduct of them caused outrage in Vinland.
  • Ochangaramark avoided the horrors of the crisis and instead tried to capitalise on it, invading Isanyathimark in 1829 to try and regain its old access to the Missouri. The war brought the Ochangara little benefit but helped tip the Isanyathi state into chaos.
  • Isanyathimark struggled on through the initial crisis and its war with Ochangaramark, mainly through taking loans from Vinland. Paying for these loans meant raising taxes and in 1839 the whole edifice collapsed. Vinland would eventually invade to restore order (and recoup its losses)
  • Yesanland overthrew its king in 1818 before the republican government was rocked by internal battles in 1821., The result was an ultra-nationalistic army-led regime which invaded the weakened but stable Susquehanockland. The Yesan-Susquehanock War (1821-1826) pulled in its neighbours. A later Revolutionary War (1847-1850) was started to restrain the increasingly volatile state, but its progress utterly sapped Vinland's, and to a lesser degree Álengiamark's, appetite for future anti-republican ventures.
  • Neshabek had suffered from political instability for several decades before the Crisis but in 1838 Vinland stepped in, turning the country into a protectorate.
  • Keewatin Territory, once a proudly independent state, finally succumbed to financial pressure in 1852 and became a Vinlandic protectorate.
  • Mexica spent the entire crisis merrily undermining and then annexing various small states on its borders. Vinland, alongside Kalmar and other Leifian states, eventually delivered an ultimatum warning that no further annexation would be tolerated.

By the 1840s the economic effects of the crisis had run their course as better connections to the wheat producing Plains states had lessened the cycles of famine and evened-out food prices. A growing industrial sector also improved the outlook of many states. However the political balance in many states continued to provoke unrest and revolt. The end of the Crisis is usually dated to 3rd January, 1856, when Vinland sent its ultimatum to Mexica.

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