Ruled by the great Victoria, Britain's is the largest Empire in the world. At home, technical innovation is thriving, bringing about increased power for the self-styled Nouveau Wealthy Order of innovative industrialists. Political power has alternated between Mr William Gladstone's Liberals and Mr Benjamin Disraeli's Conservatives: the foreign and domestic policies of the two parties are often difficult to distinguish. Truly radical politics has virtually no voice in the United Kingdom, despite the impassioned writings of Mr Karl Marx from his desk in the British Museum's Reading Room.
Currently ruled by the mighty Emperor Napoleon III, France has been quiet in recent years. It is a military power to be reckoned with, mostly thanks to the remarkable fortifications that defend its borders. The 'Maginot line' means that any potential aggressor would have to be very sure of himself before he took on this country – as Prussia found out, to its cost, a few years ago, when a misguided attack on France resulted in a swift counter and the bombardment of Berlin.
The recent expansion of this country has been mostly due to the military genius of the late General von Moltke – it now rules many African colonies, much of what was once the Ottoman Empire, and has spread its influence over much of Europe (although at the expense of gaining several political enemies). Unfortunately, these foreign success not been matched at home, where the country has been in turmoil for many years – a Communist uprising caused a bloody civil war, whose wounds have yet to heal, and the death of the famous Bismarck left a political vacuum that saw General von Moltke and Baron Brodenbach vying for power. With the death of von Moltke, Brodenbach – the self-styled 'Velvet Chancellor' – is completely in power – but at what cost? The country is unstable, and without von Moltke's military genius the future looks uncertain.
Renamed after conquest by Prussia, Wilhelmsland remains an occupied country. However, the people are unhappy, and numerous revolts have broken out – previously violently crushed by the Prussian army. With Amsterdam recently having been burned 'to smoke out rebels', fuelling the people's feeling of humiliation and abuse, it seems that this country needs a leader prepared to step forward and take on the might of the Prussian occupiers.
This small, but significant, country has been recently troubled by political upheaval – King Ludwig III is a sickly man, and will be succeeded by his brother Prince Otto, who is mentally unstable. The fear now around Europe is that the ruling house will come under the influence of unscrupulous foreign interests who do not have the goodwill of Bavarians at heart.
Previously ruled by the Austrian Empire, Hungary recently came alight with a peasant rebellion – led by the fanatical demagogue Miklos Toldi. Despite Austria's many attempts to crush the revolt, much of Hungary is still occupied by the rebels. However, the country's economy and infrastructure has been smashed by the recent wars, and with the death of the rebels' previous ally von Moltke, the future of the rebellion looks doubtful.
Recently humiliated on the battlefield by Prussia, and by the rebellion in Hungary, Austria has lost much pride. Its army is still large, but technologically out-dated. A change of direction is required if this country is to thrive in the future: or will the sleeping giant of Europe be allowed to continue to fester under the Hapsburgs' introspective self-indulgence?
Ruled by Tsar Alexander II, Russia has been a dormant force on the international scene for some years. The Tsar seems reluctant to commit himself militarily to any offensive actions, despite recent provocation by both France and Prussia. A recent peace treaty signed with France looks unlikely to last, and a number of military squabbles with Prussia are known to have irritated the Tsar.
Italy is a patchwork of principalities and city-states, most notable among them being the Papal States and the city of Florence, owned by the de' Medici family. If the Italian people could ever be persuaded to see themselves as one nation, they would be among the strongest and wealthiest powers in Europe.
Decadent and effete, the Spanish monarchy has ruled its people with a firm hand for many centuries, and the nation often gives the impression of still being stuck in the Middle Ages. Since losing its extensive colonies in South America, Spain has played little part on the European political stage.
A large and curently peaceful power on the northern fringe of Europe, Sweden controls all of modern-day Norway and Finalnd, although it has historically warred with Russia over the latter territory.
The infant nation across the Atlantic has been paid little attention by the powers of Europe in recent years, and indeed tensions between States and Federal government have kept its rulers self-absorbed. Is new President Abraham Lincoln the man to hold the Union together, and turn the USA into a true world power? Only time will tell.
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Ixion's Wheel | Pieces of Eight! | UNEXPLAINED