'Our Liberties We Prize And Our Rights We Will Maintain' was a text commissioned by Queen Jellia of Iowa in the year 2662 A.D. It presented what was then the official, state sanctioned history of Iowa. Other contemporary historians and chroniclers from elsewhere in the midwest, and particularly the Duchy of the Quad Cities disagreed vehemently with this text for a number of reasons. However, it remains a well-regarded tertiary source in the Kingdoms of Iowa and Platte for historical research.
Possibly its largest criticism as a historical source is that is glosses over large periods of history and simplifies complex dynastic and civil struggles so they could be understood by the children it was written for.
Due to its copyright long since having lapsed, it is presented in its entirety, organized into a wiki structure with minor tweaks to the archaic, obsolete language used so it can be comprehended by the modern Grangelander.
List of Dynasties
On the first page of the primer, a list of Iowa's dynasties are made. These are understood to be a simplification of Iowa's history, and ignore regencies and name changes.
- Emergency Rule (Department of Transportation)
- Second Republic
- House of Branstad-Grassley/First Kingdom of Iowa
- House of Williams/Second Kingdom of Iowa
- House of Rodman/Third Kingdom of Iowa/Kingdom of Iowa-Platte/Empire of Grangeland
- House of Rodman/Third Kingdom of Iowa/Empire of the Heartland
- Third Republic
- House of Ellisdaughter/Fourth Kingdom of Iowa/First Queendom of Iowa
- House of Branstad-Grassley/A.K.A House of the pretender/ Fifth Kingdom of Iowa
- The dynasty which is struck from history/Sixth Kingdom of Iowa/Empire of Transmississipiania
- The Decades of Strife
- House of Greysnow/Seventh Kingdom of Iowa
Over its long history, Iowa has stayed largely the same size and approximately the same shape. To those of learning, this is nothing short of astounding, because in the period between the Event and the modern day, Iowa has experienced seven dynasties, two republics, three empires, and a dictatorship, without ever being truly sundered.
Most regions suffer from fragmentary and poorly preserved knowledge of the times surrounding the event, and the two centuries following it. The midwest, however, has been an uninterrupted bastion of civilization and culture. Even as the coastal regions collapsed, we lived much the same lives as always, and took care to preserve all manner of historically valuable items. Even when Aimes was sacked by the forces of the king-without-epithet and the vast archives of the Cyclonic University was put to the torch, scholars risked their lives to save tens of thousands of works, some of which dated to centuries before the Event.
So, perhaps ironically, the problem with record keeping in the midwest is that we have an overabundance of information. The royal archives in Des Moines once more hold hundreds of thousands of works, and the papal archives in St. Louis reportedly hold millions. But many of these works contradict each other, and some proportion are known to be outright fabrications, written to entertain rather than inform. Combined with the bizarre decline of the written word in the decades preceding the event, the difficulty of understanding ancient dialects, and the tendency of our predecessors to use a stylistic literary device known as “sarcasm,” our understanding of the Event and pre-event life is likely just as inaccurate as everyone else's.
However, we have had significantly more luck with historical documentation. The midwestern tendency towards virtuous honesty and against sinful exaggeration has left us a reliable and generally complete view of the history of Iowa both before and after the event. The aim of this primer is to provide a condensed version of some of the most important events in the history of Iowa, so that its readers can understand the rich, glorious history of our kingdom and its people.
Pre-event Iowa/The American Era
Before anything else, The author wishes to inform the reader of what we have confirmed about pre-Event Iowa from sources considered to be highly reliable, including the Drake Chronicles and the surviving inaugural speeches given by State Governors during the Second Republic.
Iowa first comes into the historical record in the early days of the great American Empire, as part of the vast parcel of land Emperor Napoleon sold to President-Emperor Washington. As the name of our capital city indicates, Iowa was a land of Des Moines-- “The Monks” in Old French. Staunch Catholic men, who pledged fealty to the Protestant American Empire with a threat-- “Our Liberties We Prize and our Rights We Will Maintain.” And while these monks were soon inundated by feeble minded Protestants, they nevertheless instilled the seed of Catholicism, which bloomed into the modern, Catholic Iowa in the centuries following the Event.
We know that the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are the natural eastern and western borders of Iowa, with the exception of those lands in the Quad Cities which are historically ours and will eventually be ours again. And so when congress undertook to draw Iowa on a map, these were easy borders to establish. So too was our northern border easy to distinguish-- Iowa was to encompass the northern reaches of where it was reasonable to grow corn. (Which is why today, we no longer claim a northern border that is straight; like how rivers change their course, and we change our borders with the rivers, so to does the area where corn grows easily. Without the weather manipulating archtools of the ancient Americans, growing areas can no longer be delimited by straight lines.)
Our southern border was more troublesome, however, as corn grows well across much of the Mississippi river. The details grow unclear at this part of the tale, but we know that Iowa fought the “Honey War” against the ancient state of Missouri. Except for the fact that we won, and that our victory expanded our southern border, he details of this ancient conflict are lost to time, and even the name remains a mystery. (One popular theory is that we expanded our southern border to the maximal area where it was impossible for beekeepers to ply their trade. Another popular theory says it was named after the ferocity of Iowa’s soldiers, who “ignored the impotent stings of Missouri's soldiers, and fought like bears seeking honey.”
Afterwards, we fought on the side of the Union in the Civil War, and sacrificed so many of our native sons the grey crosses of their gravestones are still easy to find in our cemeteries today. Such was our rivalry with the states of the Old Confederacy that we still fear and despise the Holy Columbian Confederacy today.
The might of our military and the wisdom of our people gave us pride of place when it came time to select the President-Emperors of the American Empire, and we became the first stop all would-be President-Emperors paid homage to when they went on their election pilgrimages. This ancient tradition is why each king of Iowa boasts the epithet “first in the nation,” and why the Americanist heathens respect us despite our religious differences.
We participated alongside the rest of the states whenever the Union called us to war, and our valor in the terrible Great Wars is spoken of at length in other authoritative books and pamphlets that seek to reconstruct the ancient era, so the author will not belabor the point.
The Second Republican Era
Of course, while the pre-Event history of Iowa is important, it is the duty of the author to inform the reader of the events following it. Records of what happened immediately after the event are scarce, but we do know that a pre-Event organization called the “Department of Transportation” had restored order to Iowa. We know extremely little about this organization, and what it transported, but we do know it had a reputation for efficient brutality, during what was termed the “Emergency Rule” of the Department of Transportation. Contemporary reports speak of starvation and disease on a massive scale, but perhaps less starvation that the areas surrounding Iowa suffered. We know the name of our first post-Event leader-- Charles Galloway, and effectively nothing else.
Our second leader is only slightly less legendary. Perhaps every child in Iowa has heard some variant of this story, but it bears repeating:
Nathan Bone stood with his head in a noose, looked Charles Galloway right in the eye, and talked for an hour without stopping. Every time the executioner reached for the lever that would drop him to his death, he started another anecdote, and Charles Galloway told the executioner, “wait, wait, I want to see where this is going.”
When Nathan was forced to stop and take a breath, the executioner took the chance to pull the lever that would drop Nathan to his doom. Except Nathan had already slipped out of the noose, so as the trapdoor opened, nothing more exciting happened than the clank of wood on wood. For perhaps the first time in years, Charles Galloway laughed. He gave Nathan a stay of execution, and began to visit his prisoner daily to hear his stories, and listen to his advice.
Now, while his subjects tolerated the tyrannical rule of Charles as a necessity when times were bad, immediately following the Event, but eventually the land and people began to recover. And so a virtual army of common folk marched on Des Moines, where Charles had made his capital. They would be no match for his soldiers if they attacked, because in those times the ancient weapons of the American Empire were not quite so ancient, and Charles had many of them. But they did not attack; they simply sat in front of our gold-domed capitol and sang hymns. This drove Charles to distraction. What could he possibly do? Even he was not so tyrannical as to slaughter people who had committed no greater crime than singing hymns. So he went and asked his prisoner and friend Nathan for advice.
Nathan answered him with a phrase he could use to immediately disperse the mob. Charles frowned, then half-frowned, then looked blank. And eventually, even something resembling a smile appeared on his weathered, cynical old face. Without another word to Nathan, he left the prison, and took a carriage to the Capitol building.
He walked to the soldiers who held the top of the hill, rested a hand on their shoulders, and told them to disperse. Then, walking in front of the confused, silent crowd, he said the phrase Nathan had given him.
"Autocracy is no longer necessary. I will be holding elections immediately for my replacement."
We don’t know if this exact sequence of events happened, but something like it must have occurred sometime shortly after the turn of the 22nd century, because the Emergency Rule of the Department of Transportation ended without violence in what we now call the Bloodless Revolution. Charles Galloway disappears from the historical record shortly afterwards. In the first set of elections, Nathan Bone is elected Governor for a single term, and from future events we know he must have had several children, but he too disappears from the historical record.
These two men give their name to the historically dominant political factions in the kingdom of Iowa: the “Gallys” who favor centralization, militarism, and enlightened autocracy, and the “Boneys” who favor decentralization, diplomacy, and the devolvement of power.
After the Bloodless Revolution, Iowa entered its second republican era. Adopting a modified version of the pre-event constitution of Iowa as the law of the land, Iowa undertook to follow the traditions of the old American Empire. While some works will speak of the rather schismatic nature of the early republic, and the inherent inefficiencies it suffered due to the fact that democracy is only truly effective on the scale of villages and cities, it is nevertheless worthwhile to acknowledge its accomplishments.
The republic restored order across most of the length and breadth of Iowa. It revived treasured rituals like RAGBRAI, the yearly pilgrimage and coming of age ceremony where our young men and women travel west to east across Iowa (and hopefully find love while doing so.) It even made a few abortive attempts to reunify the American Empire through diplomacy, which succeeded in establishing friendly diplomatic relations with our neighbors even if they failed in their stated goal of once more uniting the continent under the stars and stripes.
The First Kingdom of Iowa
Of course the second republican era eventually ended. Political dynasties that could trace their lineage to pre-event leaders had occupied the bulk of the highest offices available in the Iowan Republic since the start of the second republican era, and intermarriage and favor trading between them had solidified their grasp over their offices. By 2176 A.D., the office of governor had been held by the same person for twenty-eight consecutive years, and by the same family for close to forty years. The people of Iowa had grown well and truly used to the house of Branstad-Grassley. And so, rather than waste money holding an election with a sure outcome, Iowa’s congress amended their constitution to proclaim Ethan Branstad-Grassley King Ethan I, the first king of Iowa.
While it seems natural to us to proclaim a king, The author should emphasize that this was something of a radical step, at the time. Feudalism had already taken root along the east coast, inspired by ancient histories and the petty kingdoms of Brazil, but it was still alien to the largely republican midwest. Indeed, the Republic of Boonslick, whose history is almost as continuous as our own, was seen as having an ‘ordinary’ system of government, rather than an exotic one. Still, the people of Iowa saw the wisdom in having a ruler that could keep a long view of the nation’s future, rather than one that was beholden to populism and electioneering. Furthermore, we know that this era heralded the gradual rise of Norse and Lakotah activity on the outskirts of Iowa’s territory, and Iowa needed a strong executive capable or repelling their raids.
We can deduce that the Branstad-Grassley Kings were at least somewhat competent at defending their domain, as we have no records of any great sacks or massacres occurring during their reign. However, the greatest factor in repelling the barbarian raids would be the religious transformation taking place in the midwest.
The Catholic church had a long relationship with the lands across the Mississippi, harking all the way back to the ancient Empire of France. However, owing to the history of the American Empire as a largely protestant nation, the midwest was host to all manner of schism and heresy. But the people of the midwest could not afford division in the face of tribal raids. If a tiny Protestant community was raided, they would have only themselves to rely on. But a Catholic community could call on the entire church and all of its adherents to provide them succor. So it was that Catholicism spread like wildfire across the midwest, beginning in the early decades of the twenty third century.
The lands bordering the Mississippi river especially were open to hearing the true word of god, due to trade and the Catholic church’s riverine missionaries. This lead to something of a divide in Iowa. The Duchy of Moingona, which held the King’s crownlands, remained majority protestant under the influence of their protestant king. The Duchy of Iowa, however, which at that time included also the Duchy of Driftless and the Duchy of the Quad Cities, converted en-masse to Catholicism following increasingly brutal Norse raids from the northlands and superior.
This lead to a quiet tension between east and west Iowa, and indeed is responsible for many of the cultural differences we hold to this day. Our external enemies kept the feud between the King of Iowa and the Duke of Iowa from breaking out into violence, but we still refer to the period compromising the second half of the twenty third century and the first decade of the twenty fourth century as the “silent war,” as the halves of Iowa grew increasingly distant from and hostile to each other. This era was not our darkest hour, but it is perhaps the era where the kingdom of Iowa came the closest to permanently spitting apart.
The Second Kingdom of Iowa
However, events would conspire to keep the Kingdom together. The three long winters of 2313-2316 A.D. lead to a succession of bad harvests as well as increased raiding by the Lakotah, whose agriculture suffered similarly. While the Duchy of Iowa maintained stability by asking for assistance from the church and its fellow Catholic rulers, the people of the Duchy of Moingona suffered greatly. An explanation was proposed that swiftly gained traction: God was punishing the people of Moingona for stubbornly maintaining their Protestant ways.
Villages converted en masse, their entire populations kneeling before God and repenting of their sins as one. But for all that the people of Iowa begged King Louis II of the house of Branstad-Grassley to see the error of his ways, his heart remained hard. Eventually, things came to a breaking point.
Commoner unrest bubbled over, and an uprising from northern Iowa (hardest hit by the winters, and now the most zealous converts) marched on Des Moines. With each village it passed, it gained new converts and new marchers. While the standing army of Iowa was more than strong enough to wipe the starving common folk out, they righteously refused to attack their countrymen, and indeed some even joined the uprising themselves. A strong king might have stopped the uprising, but King Louis II was not a strong king. In fact, he suffered from ill temper due to centuries of inbreeding between the nobility of Moingona who were largely descended from a small number of pre-Event political dynasties. Indeed, this ill temper had made him hated far and wide in the kingdom, due to his arbitrary nature and incredible rudeness. So, true to form, he locked himself in his castle and tried to ignore the world outside instead of responding to the uprising.
Meanwhile, Duke Napoleon Williams of Iowa, a second-generation Catholic after his father’s conversion, resolved to march on Des Moines and restore order. But as he observed mass before beginning to march, he received a vision. Saint Jean of Arc descended from the skies before his eyes, and told him this: that loyalty to a king is right and just, but only so long as the King is loyal to his people. So instructed, he resolved not to put the revolution down, but to incite it even further.
He stopped by each town and village between Iowa City and Des Moines to gather recruits. Named for a legendary pre-Event figure, he invoked the history of the Iowan flag and his own namesake, and of the need to return to a more republican form of governance where Dukes were allowed to choose the king in an elective monarchy. By the time he reached Des Moines, his host had swelled to six thousand men.
By the time he had reached the walls of the castle, it had doubled in size. Backed by an army of the righteous, he stood in front of the castle gates. He did not start the day in bloodshed, promising the king his safety if he would only come out and negotiate. But when the king, in his cowardice, refused to leave his room, Duke Napoleon was forced to end the day in violence.
By the end of the day, the kingdom was without a king, Executed in front of a baying crowd, King Louis had his head buried under an unknown road in Des Moines, so even the lowest prisoner could walk over him without paying any mind. Our histories make no mention of what happened to King Louis’s daughter and claimant to his throne Fenn, and we conclude that she likely died in the assault of the castle.
For some time, certainly, the Kingdom of Iowa must have been racked by turmoil, although our histories make only passing reference to it. But with the help of his vassals, Duke Napoleon kept order in the kingdom, avoiding a ruinous fall into civil war.
Keeping his word, Duke Napoleon refrained from declaring himself king. He temporarily seized the Duchy of Moingona, yes, but in 2317 A.D. also began an election process not seen in almost a hundred years.
While Duke Napoleon was a clear frontrunner for the position of king, he faced two other serious contenders, both distant relations of the Branstad-Grassleys and therefore relatively legitimate claimants to the throne. One faction was led by Count Robert Smith of Dubuque, in his own name. The other was lead by Countess Mary Rodman of the Quad Cities, on behalf of her dashing son Prince Leonard.
While Napoleon felt reasonably certain in his position due to his massive popularity among the common folk, the Protestant lords of Moingona were unlikely to vote for him. Furthermore, the Countess Mary hinted that she might be willing to merge her faction into Count Robert’s, unless she were compensated for the support she provided during Napoleon’s revolution. Luckily for Duke Napoleon, he was playing with a stacked deck. He sat down with the two faction leaders and promised that the Duchy of Iowa would be split up on his ascension to king.
With the agreement of both vassals, the election went off without a hitch. Duke Napoleon received a supermajority of the votes, and was crowned King Napoleon I. He followed through with his promise, in a fashion. Count Robert was crowned Duke Robert and granted suzerainty over much of the northern part of the Duchy of Iowa. But he saw the poison and greed in Countess Mary, and undertook to limiting her power, even while keeping the letter and spirit of his promise. Rather than granting her any new lands to rule over, he merely declared that the quad cities were now a tiny duchy of two provinces. This infuriated Duchess Mary, but with Duke Robert still loyal to Napoleon, Duchess Mary was powerless to act. She would remember this slight, however.
Shortly after he was crowned in 2318 A.D., the climate of the midwest improved. Meanwhile, the murder of a Norse princess by a Lakotah brave lead to decades of feuding between Iowa’s northern neighbors. Taking advantage of Iowa’s strength and the weakness of his neighbors, King Napoleon declared Iowa’s first war of expansion.
In a massively successful campaign, he occupied what would become the province of Cannon, driving out its Norse inhabitants and settling the sons and daughters of the population boom Iowa had been blessed with under his reign. King Napoleon ruled long and well over a prosperous kingdom, and is acclaimed as Iowa’s greatest leader since the legendary Nathan Bone of the First Republic.
In 2346 A.D., on his deathbed, King Napoleon declared Catholicism to be the state religion of Iowa, overturning Iowa’s vestigial and nonsensical policy of religious plurality it had inherited from the American Empire. Shortly after his death, a child in Dowling Orphanage had her tuberculosis miraculously disappear, after reported the sight of King Napoleon I in a vision. The pope, already grateful to King Napoleon I, quickly beautified him. Other miracles were swiftly attributed to the King, although the pope was more hesitant about canonizing King Napoleon so quickly after his death.
Napoleon’s son and grandson were each elected with near-unanimity to wear the crown, and in return were equinaminous and pious leaders who lived long, natural lives in peace and harmony with their land and people. We recognize this time as the golden age of Iowa, where our borders were at their greatest natural extent and when our people prospered, unworried by the prospects of raids and heathens. Indeed, Iowa grew so used to living under a King Napoleon that the election was viewed as a pointless formality, and skipped entirely after the death of Napoleon III in the year 2397 A.D. Instead, the nobles of Iowa simply agreed to crown Napoleon IV without the insult of demanding from him an election campaign, and sent word to the pope that they humbly requested his presence at King Napoleon IV’s coronation.
The Liberation of New Rome
Now, Catholicism had once held sway from the waters of the Mississippi to the bottom of the world, the Land of Fire. The popes had taken the fall of Rome as a sign that the faith had grown stagnant, and in the new world, had disdained the establishment of a new Vatican. Instead, the travelling popes had administered to their flock from a fleet of boats, sailing up and down the Mississippi, the Rio Grande, and the Rio Bravo. Traversing the Caribbean and visiting the coasts of Mexico, Central America, and even far-away Brazil. But as the southern lands fell to heresy, polytheism, and devil worship, it became more and more dangerous for the pope to travel, and more and more rulers turned him away from their ports. Things came to a head in the year 2390, when the heretical Protestant ruler of St. Louis, Count Sampson, denied the pope passage northwards to Iowa.
Obviously, this was an intolerable slight against the Catholic peoples of the midwest, and to the god-fearing people of Iowa in particular. Without hesitation, the nobles of Iowa raised their levies and marched on St. Louis. With one exception-- Duchess Rodman.
At almost a hundred and six years of age, Duchess Emeritus Rodman was barely more than a skeleton with skin. She had outlived her son and his son, and her courtiers spoke in whispers about how the old crone has made some dark bargain to maintain her life until her revenge against the long-dead King Napoleon was complete. But her mind was as sharp as her body was decrepit, and she schemed to bring her family power and glory. And at her side was the not yet legendary Duke Leonard Rodman, named after his grandfather.
As dashing as his grandfather, and as cunning as his great-grandmother, he had administered his tiny duchy with absolute efficiency. His roads were clean, his people rich, and his cowboys rode with gold-plated stirrups. And yet, he was not loved. Even his own subjects could see the deceit that lied behind his gaze. With the help of his grandmother, he came up with a devious plan.
He mustered his army, and then did nothing. His army simply sat, quiescent, on the banks of the Mississippi. His people were infuriated, and the other counts of the land laughed at his cowardice. How could he be so timid as to avoid marching against a single count?
And so, while Duke Leonard hid behind his walls, the holy armies marched. Cowboys from the Kingdoms of Iowa and Platte (then known as Nebraska), clad in their leather armor. Minutemen from the Boonslick Republic with their crossbows, carrying on a long tradition of citizen-soldiers that could trace its descent all the way back to the ancient American Empire. Braves from the few Comanche tribes who had already embraced Catholicism, united in spirit even if not yet under the same crown. All to teach a single count a lesson neither he, nor any other Protestant heretic, would ever forget.
And on a sunny day in June, that host of twenty thousand men would lay sight on the City of St. Louis. And, immediately after, they would notice its fifteen thousand defenders, each and every one armed to the teeth. Shock beset the armies of the Lord. How could a single count gather so large an army? But as they drew closer, their questions were answered by the red-white-and blue banners flapping in the wind. The Holy Columbian Confederacy had come to the aid of their coreligionists.
Of course, with their greater numbers and the grace of God behind them, even the feared legions of the Emperor would have fallen like wheat to a thresher. But the commander of the army, Mayor Alvin of Nebrasky City, was reputed far wide across Grangeland for his tactical and strategic genius for a reason. He’d smelt something off about this entire situation from the very beginning. So instead of launching an attack of the city of St. Louis, he began a siege. While the Holy Columbian Confederacy is famous for its seafaring ships, no one makes riverine craft quite like midwesterners. He staged galleys across the breadth of the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri rivers, completely cutting off St. Louis from resupply.
Then, it was simply a matter of waiting. Days stretched into weeks stretched into months, and yet the forces of the confederacy gave no sign that they were running out of supplies, Attempts to negotiate were rebuffed, one after another. But it made no sense-- the confederates had simply not enough time in between Count Sampson declining the pope passage north and the mustering of Catholic troops to ship both troops and enough provisions to last out a siege.
And then, a message came from the counties of Illinois. Confederates, five thousand of them! Each and every one of them engaged in murder, rapine, and plunder not seen in Catholic lands since the Americanists had rode from Mount Rushmore with their primeval engines of war.
That left Mayor Alvin in a no-win situation. If he sallied forth to seize St. Louis, he might be too weak to face the confedates terrorizing Illinois. But if he broke the siege, he would fail to capture Saint Louis, defeating the entire point of the expedition.
Seeking direction, he gathered together the high nobility that had accompanied the army. The High Proprietor of Boonslick, the King of Iowa, the King of Platte, and others besides. Even as a lowly mayor, he stood among them as an equal.
They debated for the rest of the night, and eventually an accord was reached. Saint Louis had to be taken, and retribution inflicted on the protestants for the crimes they had committed.
And, King Napoleon IV privately confessed to Mayor Alvin, he feared for his own death. Not in the battle to come, because God would be with him, but from a far worse enemy-- disease. Conditions in siege camps were never ideal, and Napoleon IV had contracted a wasting disease his physician could not cure. If he could ask nothing more from life, he at least wished to be crowned in St. Louis by the pope before his death.
So resolved, the Grand Army of the Lord assembled. Cowboys donned their armor, militiamen oiled their crossbows, and braves sharpened their axes. The next morning, they prepared to attack. A vast line of metal, leather, and flesh faced down Saint Louis. Galleys prepared for naval landings floated just out of range of the shore-based artillery.
And then, to Mayor Alvin’s total surprise, the confederates struck a flag of parley. Suspecting some trick, he and six others rode to meet the single confederate emissary armed to the teeth. But there was no trick, only an offer of surrender, in return for the confederate troops being allowed to leave the city unmolested to return back to the Holy Columbian Confederacy.
Four hundred men in the Catholic army, three hundred men in confederate army, and one thousand, three hundred residents of St. Louis had died to sickness or starvation. Not one person had died in battle.
The armies of the Lord executed the hapless Count Sampson that evening, abandoned by his allies at the last moment. The morning after, King Napoleon IV was crowned king of Iowa under the Gateway Arch by the pope. By that evening, he had fallen into a sleep that he would never wake up from.
Other histories relate the particulars of the Pope’s return to his original parish, and the formation of New Rome as the permanent home of the Catholic church in 2398 A.D. This history’s concern, however, is the events immediately following the siege of St. Louis.
Many warriors immediately abandoned the army of Mayor Alvin, sore at the denial of the loot and bounty they’d been promised for taking St. Louis. Still, roughly seven thousand remained with him as he ventured north towards the Duchy of Illinois. Marching double time, his soldiers traveled swifty to the position of the confederate soldiers, righteous anger fueling their every step.
Only to be denied battle again. They found a battlefield, yes. They found torn banners and buried corpses and broken swords. But they only found one army, not two, and that was the army of Duke Leonard of the Quad cities.
The author is sure you have heard, dear reader, stories of the incredible valor and foresight of house Rodman, how they foresaw the two pronged attack, and how they prepared for it in secret because to reveal their knowledge of it would jeopardize the capture of Saint Louis, as the Confederacy would have simply placed all twenty thousand men to defend it. The author is sure you have heard stories of how the badly outnumbered forces of the Duchy of the Quad Cities, three thousand men to five thousand, nevertheless routed their enemy due to superior tactics, morale, and faith in their God. The author would like to, without equivocation or hesitation, call these stories false.
The course of events was not obvious then, but it is obvious now: Duchess Rodman had collaborated with the Confederacy. She had engineered a situation where King Napoleon IV would die, while her son would gain enough prestige to win the election to replace King Napoleon IV, and in the bargain get her indirect revenge on King Napoleon I. She had set up her pieces so no matter what, she ended up on top.
The basics of her plan were as follows. First she would goad the Catholic realms into mustering their forces at a prepared, defensible location. St. Louis, surrounded by water, was an ideal one. The Catholic army would march, and yet be surprised by a far larger defensive force than anticipated. This would give them the choice between sieging or attacking St. Louis. Except, it wouldn’t really be a choice. With local control of the waterways, the Catholic army would feel extremely safe simply sieging and blockading St. Louis until it starved.
Except, it wouldn’t. With knowledge of where the Catholic army would attack, the confederates could provision it well in advance. And the Duchess Rodman had eight decades to plan a defensible location.
In the meantime, a confederate force could be sent up the Mississippi to the Tenesi River and then to Illinois without drawing the attention of the Catholics, because of course their naval forces would be distracted with the blockade of St. Louis. This force would then plunder and sack its way westward to the Mississippi, causing mass panic and instilling fear into the hearts of Iowans. This would force the decision Mayor Alvin had to make, except it wasn’t really a decision at all. As can be seen with the immediate surrender of Confederate forces, whether or not St. Louis was taken mattered little. With the confederates and Duchess Mary cooperating, the armies could meet and a battle could be staged well before the Catholic army reached them. Meanwhile, either a seige or a battle could provide cover for the assassination of King Napoleon IV via an insidious campaign of slow poisoning.
Thus, the people of Iowa would be made to feel intense gratitude and relief for their protector Duke Leonard, who lead the army of the Quad Cities that so heroically fought off the Protestants and sent them packing. (Who, this author must remind the leader, were never seen by an authoritative force to determine the extent to which they suffered battle injuries.)
And, predictably, Iowa’s next king was the first king of house Rodman, King Leonard I. Exactly as his great grandmother had planned for his grandfather, so many decades ago. Shortly after his own coronation in 2399 A.D., also in St. Louis, and also under the Gateway Arch, his great-grandmother passed away, fulfilled at last.
Of course, one question remains. How did the duchess convince the confederates to help her? And to that question, this author unfortunately has no concrete answer. But the Duchess Rodman lived a very long life, and gathered many favors, and even more blackmail material. Such a favor would have to be very large indeed, or such blackmail utterly ruinous, to convince Emperor Leonidas II to sacrifice vast amounts of treasure and a not insignificant amount of lives to give Duchess Rodman her kingdom. But she was old and powerful when the Holy Columbian Empire was formed, and the remnants of house Royall are suspiciously fond of her for a Catholic monarch who defeated their armies in battle.
House Rodman/The Imperial Era
But her story, for better or worse, is over. Instead, her son took center stage. King Leonard’s subjects in the Quad Cities had known him since he was a boy, and therefore his fake veneer of gallantry and affability was transparent to them. But the remainder of Iowa, he fooled. The Napoleons were great kings, people said, but perhaps Leonard could be too. So with hope, they welcomed King Leonard with open arms.
And for a time, it seemed as if he was an ideal king, and the people loved him like they had loved the Napoleons before him. He built roads and bridges, educated orphans and gave alms to beggars. When he spoke, he did so with eloquence. When he sang, we are told, the songbirds themselves cried.
But to a man like King Leonard, one crown was simply not enough.
The feud between the Norse and Lakotah and long since cooled off. Yet for decades after, their raids had been suppressed as the heathens rebuilt their cities and population. But in the years preceding King Leonard’s assumption to the throne, the frequency of their raids had increased. However, Iowa had, by then, acquired something of a reputation for violence. The Napoleons had little desire to expand Iowa into the frozen north or pagan west. But they saw that the most effective way of dealing with the pagan was a sort of even-handed brutality. For each Iowan farmer killed, ten pagans burnt at stake. For each Iowan village sacked, three pagan tribes were put to the torch, man, woman and child.
So instead, the pagans targeted the far weaker Kingdom of Nebraska. Raid after raid battered the faithful Catholic citizenry, while poor Queen Benedictine fretted, impotent to help them. While Queen Benedictine was wise, pious, and kind, as queens are wont to be, the constraints of her gender unfortunately kept her from developing the martial spirit necessary to repel the pagan raids herself. Perhaps, if she had found a good, stout husband from amongst the ranks of Nebraska’s opinion, history would be much different.
But instead, she found Leonard. Dashing, indisputably. And at least the veneer of bravery covered him, from the false glory he had found in Illinois. He seduced her with such finesse and skill that to this day, the bards still speak of their so-called romance. And in 2400 A.D., just as the twenty fourth century became the twenty fifth, they were wed in impious extravagance on a bridge straddling the Missouri river between Omaha and Council Bluffs.
While King Leonard was technically nothing more than Queen Benedictine’s consort, he wasted little time assuming the mantle of Nebraska’s rule. Queen Benedictine became gravid within the year, and King Leonard took over more and more of her duties over the course of her troubled pregnancy. And perhaps by luck, but more likely according to a devious plan, the Queen fell ill shortly after bearing him a son, Prince Tigris, and died shortly thereafter. Already so entrenched in the politics of Nebraska, he therefore convinced the would-be regency council to instead crown him King of Nebraska until his son reached his majority at sixteen, whereupon King Leonard would give up the crown of Nebraska.
Of course, the regency council initially resisted his attempts to seize power, but he seduced them with what seemed to be a reasonable compromise: that he would hold both crowns simultaneously, but separately. Thus, in 2402 A.D., King Leonard was crowned King of Iowa-Nebraska.
Shortly afterwards, he declared that the capital of Iowa would become Council Bluffs. This was presented as simple administrative pragmatism-- the twin capitals of Omaha and Council Bluffs were roughly in the middle of the Kingdom of Iowa-Nebraska, and this way, he could visit both cities simply by walking across a bridge. But for the first time, the people of Iowa caught a glimpse at the avarice for power that lay within him. Iowa and Nebraska were two separate kingdoms, who merely happened to share the same king. Why did they effectively also have to share a capital?
The common folk of Des Moines seethed with discontent at the insult. The capital had been temporarily relocated before, yes. But only ever to Iowa City, which all knew had been a peer and rival to Des Moines since long before the Event. Indeed, while the scholars and bureaucrats of Des Moines had largely been trained by the Cyclonic Order in Aimes, which had dueled the Hawkeye Order of Iowa City for power and influence since time immemorial, the rivalry was one of mutual respect. Council Bluffs, meanwhile, was a relative backwater, lacking all the urban sophistication of Des Moines.
But even from the far western edge of Iowa, King Leonard managed to keep the Kingdom stable. Several years of good harvest dulled the suspicion of the people, and perhaps, if Leonard had restricted his ambitions to merely ruling Iowa and Nebraska, the two Kingdoms could have eventually been unified as a single crown. But instead, he looked south, to the Duchy of Kansas.
Now, there are rumors that in times long past, Kansas had once been a Kingdom in its own right, a peer to Iowa and Nebraska. But while its people had initially seemed to follow the course of the larger midwest, its proximity to the coloradans would prove to be disastrous. As you may perhaps know, the location of Colorado next to the heretical Mormons, the terrifying, devil-worshipping Atomicists, and the all-but-godless Cetics had led to a mishmash of doctrines and religions that would eventually birth the Neo-Gnostics. Between them were the Revelationists in their hidden places, the Protestants who had yet to return to the true faith, and of course the righteous Catholic rulers who also occupied the region, Only the east of Kansas remained unified, and then only as a duchy.
Now, the Duke of Kansas had an unwed daughter, who was neither a great beauty nor at any risk of ever assuming the throne of Kansas. Nevertheless, a mere decade after Queen Benedictine’s death, barely long enough for her to cool in the ground, King Leonard began courting the Duke’s daughter. And with such a prestigious suitor, the Duke simply couldn’t say no. In 2412 A.D., King Leonard was wed to the princess Matilde with great pomp, again in between Omaha and Council bluffs. Yet another slight to the good people of Des Moines. Meanwhile, King Leonard and the Duke swiftly formalized a military alliance.
As the ink dried on the page, an oddly fortuitous crisis forced its invocation.
A vassal of the duke of Kansas, the count of Wichita, declared that henceforth he would be independent. His reasons are lost to history, but King Leonard's response isn’t. At his ally’s request, he rallied his troops. And yet, in a repeat of his actions so long ago, he refused to march with them. Instead, citing a need to train his men and gather supplies, he simply sat in Omaha, inactive, as the Duke of Kansas was defeated, over and over, by a resistance that gradually grew in power.
As the rebel forces besieged Topeka, the duke of Kansas sailed north on the Missouri river to beg for King Leonard’s help. And King Leonard, with his hard heart, responded that his troops would sally forth only under one condition-- that the duke of Kansas would pledge allegiance to his own son in law, becoming his vassal. Left with no other choice, the duke knelt before King Leonard and proclaimed his fealty.
And just like so many years before, King Leonard’s troops roused from their stupor, and with their massive numerical superiority, crushed the rebellion like a boot crushes an ant, the hooves of King Leonard’s cowboys mulching them underfoot.
Then, with the Duchy of Kansas under his control, King Leonard looked west. Kansas had been a kingdom before, and it would be again. But not by its own merits, but in conjunction with Nebraska. King Leonard declared himself to be the king not of Nebraska, but the King of Platte, and of all the prairie land stretching from the catholic counts of Missouri to the Neo-Gnostic Kingdom of Colorado. Thus began the subjugation wars
Acting quickly, he marched on the lords surrounding the Duchy of Kansas, both Catholic and pagan. With the strength of two kingdoms at his back, each army of hastily assembled levies was torn apart like chicken by coyotes. Once every bordering county had been subjugated, he stopped to consolidate his gains. For six years, his priests eradicated heresy from the recently Revalationist lands of Kansas, and his tax collectors grew familiar with the people he now ruled.
But in 2418 A.D., the promise he had made reared its head-- it was time for him to renounce the crown of Nebraska, and crown his son King in his place.
Except! He argued to the nobles of Platte, Nebraska was no more. He wore no such crown, and therefore his son would have to wait until his death to be a king. This of course infuriated not just Prince Tigris, but also his close friend and half-brother, the four-year-old Prince Wilson.
But they, and their supporters, were unwilling to act. For, after all, King Leonard had the armies of two kingdoms at his beck and call, and besides was renowned across christendom for his grand victory against the Protestants during the seizure of New Rome, for his campaigns against the barbarians raiding Platte, and for his more recent conquests in the land surrounding Kansas.
But King Leonard knew his position had grown precarious, so he resolved to win further glory on the field of battle, therefore silencing his detractors.
So once more, he raised a grand army, of the likes not seen since the seizure of New Rome. Eighteen thousand men, all told, well equipped, well trained, and well commanded. And at the head of this host, King Leonard planned to ride south. To his generals and his men, he spoke at length of how they would forge not just a unified kingdom of Iowa-Platte, but a glorious empire of all the catholics north and west of the papacy. He dreamed of nothing less than to crown himself Emperor of all of Grangeland.
Except, just as the army had been mustered, just as the baggage train had been packed and the logisticians satisfied, news came from the north of Platte-- the Lakotah had come. And not as individual braves or raiding bands, but as a great and terrible army, eight thousand men strong.
Now this primer must take a step back and examine the situation of the Lakotah. While in the modern day, the concept of the “Sioux” and the “Lakotah” are identical, it was not so in the time of King Leonard and his predecessors. Instead, the “Lakotah” were a specific subset of the Sioux. Specifically, the subset that followed the old-world cult of Americanism.
Initially, the great plains Americanists were just as tribal as their Nanissaánah neighbors. But over a span of time, Mountainer Americanists from the rocky mountains had subjugated and unified the disparate sioux tribes to form the feudal, Americanist, and Sioux kingdom of Lakotah under Ned Pitchstone in 2321 A.D. However, in the years after unification, the Americanists had been primarily concerned with events on the east coast, and in particular a number of wars with their Anabaptist and Protestant neighbors.
As a result, the kingdom of Lakotah as a whole had been distracted by wars with the Norse and Ojibwe to secure passage through the great lakes and therefore aid their allies in Columbia, the Old Dominion, and Gotham by launching attacks on Hudsonia and Dietschrei. And in the meantime, they had also suffered many attacks by the Nanissaánah Sioux, who desired to free their tribesmen from the grasp of the Americanists, and from their Mountainer ruling class.
But while these wars had resulted in setback after setback for the kingdom of Lakotah, they had also resulted in an increased level of centralization as tribe after tribe began to settle down and identify themselves with not merely their immediate neighbors, but their nation as a whole.
Thus, by 2418, they were a battle tested, fiercely nationalistic people. Respecting that, King Leonard appointed his best commander, the lowborn woman Delia (who is the subject of other histories, and will not have her background elaborated here) to drive back the Lakotah army. With her went nine thousand men, fully half of King Leonard’s host. It was a setback, to be sure, but not an unsurpassable one, he thought. After all, he expected to face nothing more challenging than a few uppity counts. He would simply need to take his conquests a little slower, and be more thorough in eliminating rebellious elements in occupied land.
The armies of the Counts of Dodge and Smoky Hill succumbed with even more ease than King Leonard expected, and they provided little more than token forces to impede King Leonard’s conquest. But when he reached the county of Liberal, an unpleasant surprise awaited him. Instead of a few hundred poorly trained enemies, he faced an army thousands strong, and equipped with gleaming armor and newly smithed weapons. And above them flew the ancient banner of the Kingdom of Colorado.
And not just Colorado’s banner flew, but the banners of Dodge and Smoky Hill too. Even Sioux emblems could be spotted amongst the host, the bald eagle and stars and stripes of the Americanists syncretized with the thunderbird and medicine arrows native to this land since long before the light of God had fallen upon it.
King Leonard realized, now, why his conquests had been so easy. The levies he had fought so far had been nothing more than a holding action to give the main armies of each count time to retreat towards Colorado. The armies of Lakotah had attacked to draw off his forces, creating a chance to defeat him in detail. But here in Liberal, the unholy alliance between the Revalationists, the Neo-gnostics, and the Americanists would make its stand as the First Plains Coalition.
With no unified system to keep track of their warriors, we will never have a complete count of the forces under the control of the King of Colorado. But by all contemporary accounts, the numbers were quite even, with similar numbers of infantry and horse on each side.
The armies of Iowa-Platte rested for the remainder of the day, outside the range of the Coalition’s bowmen. The next morning, they attacked. The King of Iowa-Platte sent forth his infantry in a broad spearhead, seeking to divide the Coalition’s line in two. Initially, his plan seemed to work, as the Coalition’s line of battle bent and bowed. Believing that the men of the Coalition would need merely a little more prodding to break entirely, he committed his cavalry to the center, and personally lead a charge against the Coalition’s lines.
He believed wrong. The Coalition had been merely feigning weakness. They’d had days to prepare the terrain, and what had seemed like demoralized soldiers preparing to route had instead been a carefully coordinated retreat behind lines of wooden stakes, embedded into the ground and hidden behind the Coalition’s soldiers. King Leonard’s cowboys trampled over their own men for nothing, and many died impaled on the Coalition’s hidden defenses. King Leonard’s offensive faltered, and the jaws of the Coalition’s trap sprung closed.
The Coalition's lines thinned and flattened, as the Coalition’s soldiers marched around the soldiers of Iowa-Platte, encircling them on three sides. Confusion gave way to panic, and King Leonard’s forces routed. The King escaped the battle, but at the head of an army of only three thousand, two hundred men, little more than a third of what he’d came south with. The remaining soldiers were slain or taken prisoner.
King Leonard fled north at a breakneck pace, expecting to hear that Commander Delia had suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Lakotah. Except when he reached Omaha, he found her at the head of a victorious army. One bloodied, but still eight thousand men strong.
The kingdoms were stunned. Yes, Delia’s fame as a commander was great, and it was no surprise that she had vanquished her enemy. But how could she have done so much better than King Leonard, also a famous commander, despite facing largely the same odds?
The answer is simple. Delia and her men had God on their side, and therefore easily vanquished the pagan Americanists. But while King Leonard’s men walked with God, King Leonard very much did not. And in addition, his previous fame had been against the Confederates, who his mother had collaborated with, and against counts with armies too pitiful to resist his numerical superiority.
And so King Leonard was humiliated in front of both the kingdoms-- Iowa and Platte. His son, Prince Tigris, called the nobles who supported him together, and demanded that his father abdicate his crowns and live out his life in seclusion. King Leonard was infuriated of course, and tried to flee east into Iowa and raise fresh troops from the crownlands in Moingona and his personal demesne of the Quad Cities to fight the Prince, even as the army of the Coalition marched deeper into Platte. But the commoners and lords of Des Moines had not forgotten his insult, and a mob rose up and captured him when he entered the city. Combined with virtuous Delia's refusal to command her army to fight against the common folk, this sealed his fate. Thus was he forced to abdicate his crown and live the rest of his life in seclusion, as his son demanded.
As a gesture of thanks to the people of Des Moines, King Tigris was swiftly crowned King of Iowa by the bishop of Des Moines in front of the golden Capitol dome, still splendid after all these years of use as the palace of the Iowan Kings. Before the assembled people, he declared that Des Moines would once more be the capital of Iowa, and that until his brother grew old enough to assume the throne of Platte, he would ride between Omaha and Des Moines regularly to administer to his kingdoms. Following his promise, he rode to Omaha and was crowned King of Platte by the archbishop of Omaha. Gathering both Commander Dalia’s army and the army formerly commanded by King Leonard, and bolstered by reinforcements recruited from Des Moines, he rode south, accompanied by Dalia, to confront the army of the coalition.
But instead of engaging them in battle, he chose to parley with the King of Colorado. He had the superior army and the superior commander, yes, but to weaken himself when the Lakotah could still reform their army and once more march south would be suicide. Instead, the two kings agreed that King Tigris would grant independence to the counts of Dodge and Smoky Hill, and declare that the rightful lands of the Kingdom of Platte were those of the Kingdom of Nebraska, the Duchy of Kansas and the counties of Hays and Wichita.
In return, the King of Colorado pledged to not attempt to spread his religion into the midwest, to break his alliance with the Kingdom of Lakotah, and to mutually guarantee the independence of the independent counts of the Duchy of Chisholm as a buffer between the Kingdom of Platte and Colorado.
The two rulers signed the peace of Dodge City, and with it an end to the First Coalition of the Plains and King Leonard’s ambition to create an Empire of the Grangelanders. Other histories focus on the accomplishments of King Tigris and his brother King Williams following the War of the First Plains Coalition. This primer will merely state that King Tigris granted his brother the Kingdom of Platte when Prince Williams reached his majority, and in turn the good King Williams ruled his lands with dignity and honor. Famously, King Tigris crowned his brother personally, in a unique ceremony not quite like any other coronation before or since. Suffice to say, the rule of King Tigris was long and prosperous, and he is often thought of as Iowa’s third greatest leader after King Napoleon I. Similarly, King Williams is remembered as one of Platte’s most beloved rulers for his evenhanded rule and Christianization of much of Platte’s Revelationist west and south.
(Incidentally, while King Leonard was distracted in Platte by his wars of subjugation, a daring band of Norse raiders pillaged as far south as the province of Des Moines, and destroyed a suburb of Des Moines-- the tiny hamlet known as “Windsor Heights.” We are told this was no great loss, as Windsor Heights was hated around the kingdom for an archaic custom practiced by its Knight-sheriffs known as the “speed trap,” where any man found riding their horse faster than a modest trot would be harshly fined.
The author mentions this only because someone uninformed might otherwise believe Windsor Heights had some relevance to the Transmississippiania period and its tragedies due to the modern tradition of ritually salting the fields covering what was once Windsor Heights. This ritual exists merely so no one is tempted to go back and reinstate its onerous tradition, rather than any recent atrocity committed there.)
King Tigris would go on to marry Commander Dalia, avoiding a scandal largely by dint of her fame and the respect it earned her. The successive kings of house Rodman, both in Platte and Iowa, lacked the legendary qualities of Kings Tigris and Williams, but nevertheless were largely competent administrators who were content to keep their kingdoms in peace, save for some minor border skirmishes and adjustments with their northern neighbors. Indeed, historians of the time wondered if Queen Benedictine had perhaps cuckolded King Leonard, as the Rodman kings were far more likely to embody her wisdom and kindness than King Leonard’s base ambition and cunning.
But as the decades passed, the Rodman blood, wherever it was derived from, thinned. No truly evil or tyrannical kings arose, but the rulers of Iowa grew progressively more mediocre, content to live their lives in luxury while leaving the administration of the nation to bureaucrats taught by the Cyclonic and Hawkeye orders. And in addition, the constant instability of Chicagoland and Iowa’s participation in events that rocked the whole of christendom during this period fermented unrest and unhappiness across Iowa.
Then, three consecutive princes of Iowa, Lysander, Bellard, and Neil, died in short succession to a hunting accident, sickness, and duel for a maiden’s hand respectively.
Unexpectedly elevated to the position of heir was Prince Daniel. And unlike his dullard brothers, this was a prince cut from the same cloth as his ancestor King Leonard. As the prince fourth in line to the throne, he had no expectation of ever being crowned king. So when Prince Neil died, the kingdom was thrown into turmoil because Prince Daniel was not in Iowa, but instead touring far-away California and Cascadia, debating Cetic gurus and Gaian monks and sampling the sights, food, women, and (if the rumors are true, which this primer is forced to admit may be plausible) men.
The journey to the west made by Commander Barnes to fetch Prince Daniel is legendary in its own right, and his journey back to the east even more so. So by the time Prince Daniel reached Iowa for his coronation, he was already a dashing, near-mythical personage. Far and wide, he was lauded as the man who would bring Iowa back into a golden age. In 2523 A.D., he was crowned King of Iowa under the Gateway arch in St. Louis.
And in the first years of his reign, the hopes of Iowans seemed well founded. From his journeys west of the Rockies, King Daniel brought not only the cultural advances he’d observed in California, but also a deep-seated faith in God and the holy Catholic church tempered into fine steel through debate with countless pagan holy men, some of whom he even reportedly converted to Christianity. The people prospered once more.
However, he was not without his enemies. As the first king in decades to pay close attention to the Kingdom’s bureaucracy, he found and dismissed a number of corrupt officials and instituted far-reaching reforms to the Cyclonic and Hawkeye orders. But these enemies were largely impotent; bureaucrats, after all, can not call upon levies or wage armies. (At least, not in rational, feudal states like our own.)
While Iowa prospered, however, the remainder of Christendom did not. Incompetent rulers, Rust Cultist activity, Revelationist revivals, Nanissaánah and Norse raids, Voodoo witchcraft, and invasions by the followers of the Atom and the Sagrado Corazón all contributed to a general malaise and feeling that Catholicism was falling apart at its seams. Only King Daniel seemed to be a bright spot in the darkness, as Iowa is ever a beacon of hope for the midwest.
Taking advantage of the situation, King Daniel replicated the actions of his ancestor and moved the capital of Iowa. But not to Council Bluffs. Instead, the capital moved to house Rodman’s ancient Demesne-- the Duchy of the Quad Cities. As before, this infuriated the citizenry of Des Moines. But ultimately, King Daniel’s subjects stayed quiescent. Because while he was ambitious, unlike King Leonard, he was not also treacherous.
The reason for his move soon became clear. Traveling up and down the Mississippi and its tributaries, King Daniel engaged in an extended campaign of diplomacy. Using every bit of eloquence and every bit of rhetoric he had learned from the gurus of the west coast, he made his case before the catholic rulers of the midwest: that disunity was death, and only under a single ruler could the heartland survive to spread the light of God and the true faith.
And he succeeded. One by one, the rulers of the midwest were swayed by his arguments. Even the pope agreed to his plan. A vast empire, with its rulers chosen by the same criteria as the elected Kings of Iowa.
And, like Duke Napoleon so long ago, King Daniel was playing with a stacked deck. With the implicit support of all the nobility of Iowa and Platte, no other candidate had anywhere near King Daniel’s level of support. The election was merely a formality to confirm his position.
And so he proceeded with great pomp to Saint Louis, where the pope prepared to crown him Emperor of the entire heartland-- the lords of Iowa, Platte, Missouri, and the Ozarks, all agreeing to pledge fealty to a single man.
And yet, we don’t live under the Empire of the heartland today. And that is attributable to a single, bizarre event. Walking up the path to his coronation under the Gateway Arch, King Daniel tripped over his own robe, fell face down onto an exposed rock, and died instantly as his nose was shoved into his brain.
How Christendom would have been different without this accident is the subject of myriad fanciful tales. Indeed, perhaps no subject is more popular for the bards than to speculate on than what could have been if King Daniel’s tailor had fit his robe to be even an inch higher.
But regardless, the past is the past, and the prevailing opinion now, as it was then, is that King Daniel’s accident was a message from God that the catholic nations should stay united, but independent.
Of course, the aftershocks of King Daniels death affected perhaps the entire rest of the Americas, but we must keep our attention on the part of history that pertains to Iowa. And specifically, the events of 2529 immediately following King Daniel’s failed coronation.
King Daniel’s only sister, now Duchess Annabelle of the Quad Cities, desired to see her infant nephew placed on the throne, with her acting as regent. And while the lords of Iowa were reluctant to name him king, they nevertheless had no better option. Thus, Duchess Annabelle effectively seized the reigns of the kingdom.
But while she had all the ambition of King Leonard, she had none of his cunning. In fact, her mismanagement of the country grew to almost legendary proportions. A popular tale relates how she responded to a shortage of horses for the annual tradition of RAGRAI by proposing that instead, the young men and women of Iowa should be provided carts, so that a single horse could transport multiple people. When informed that the idea of RAGBRAI being performed on a wheeled conveyance was utterly ridiculous, she proposed that the carts simply have their wheels removed, if that was such a problem.
And so by the year 2568 A.D., she was well and truly hated by the people of Iowa. Thus, when Duchess Annabelle returned to the Quad Cities after a disastrous visit to Des Moines (for she had not reversed King Daniel’s declaration that the Quad Cities would serve as Iowa’s capital), the common folk of Des Moines rose up. Lead not by a charismatic leader, but by a network of autonomous “peoples’ councils,” Des Moines proclaimed itself a republic, and thenceforth elected a president-count to rule it. The bureaucrats and technocrats that had grown fat and rich during the latter years of the Rodman dynasty, before being abruptly dismissed by King Daniel, rejoiced.
Infuriated, Duchess Annabelle, in the name of her nephew, demanded that the nobles of Iowa raise their troops to crush the rebellion. But her vassals were no more fond of her than her people, and instead they chose to negotiate with the republic, rather than destroy it. Eventually, an agreement was reached-- no longer would Iowa be ruled by a King, but instead by an elected council.
Thus began Iowa’s third, and hopefully final, republican era.
The Third Republic
Soon after the expulsion of House Rodman from the Kingdom of Iowa, the Kingdom of Platte followed suit, deposing their queen in favor of a duke from one of House Rodman’s cadet branches. Thus, House Rodman was reduced to only its ancestral domain of the Duchy of the Quad Cities, newly independent as part of a deal to avoid civil war between republican and royalist factions.
But while the people and nobility of Platte were sensible and simply traded one dynasty for another, the citizens of the Iowa Republic nevertheless took that as a sign that they had made the right choice in deposing their king. Soon, they expected, republican revolutions would spread like wildfire through the rest of the midwest, and the other catholic states would adopt an identical system to theirs.
It behooves the author to offer a brief explanation of their system. First, an explanation of who held the franchise: From nobility: dukes, counts, mayors, marquises, and barons. From the clergy: the Archbishop of Dubuque, the bishops of Iowa, and the priests. From the learned men of the Cyclonic and Hawkeye orders, the Deans, the Departmentals, and the Doctors. (The not quite so learned men of the Order Pantheric also demanded the franchise, but, as always, were ignored.) A three-class, three-tier weighted voting system was established, wherein a six-hundred man congress split evenly in three between the factions was assembled. From that congress, a smaller council of nine, also evenly split across the factions, was elected by their peers.
This council, in theory, would behave in much the same way as a king. They appointed members to the imperial bureaucracy, commanded Iowa’s military forces, handled the business of taxation and administering justice, confirmed or vetoed laws passed by congress, and in general managed much of Iowa’s day-to-day business with, admittedly, surprising alacrity.
However, they were not a king; they were nine, often fractious people with a bevy of vices and often opposing priorities. For a time, Iowa tolerated their disunity, but eventually the constant squabbling of the council grew to a head. But the congressmen of Iowa were loathe to give up their lawmaking powers and elect a proper king, not in the least because many had grown ever more corrupt, and therefore ever more rich, since the establishment of the republic.
Enter the Winfrey Enterprise. A unique, matrilineal, quasi-feudal corporation with a history stretching from before the event, its Seeyōs claimed descent from America’s so-called ‘shadow queens,’ including both historical figures such as First Ladies Roosevelt and Obama, as well as legendary figures like Oprah the Generous. While the author of this primer is not credulous of their claims, it must nevertheless be admitted that the Winfrey Enterprise prospered for hundreds of years despite its female leadership.
But as other, male-led merchant republics rose up and displaced the shops and merchants of the Winfrey Enterprise, they were forced from their traditional economic base in Cetic California, gradually migrating east towards the midwest and the Mississippi river basin. After a bargain with the pope in 2489 to convert their cadre of administrators and high-level functionaries to Catholicism, the Winfrey Enterprise was given dispensation to peddle their wares across Christendom.
The Enterprise chose to entrench itself in Des Moines, both for logistical reasons (as Des Moines lies on a tributary to the Mississippi) and for its strategic position, nestled safely in the middle of Iowa.
A mutualistic relationship arose. With the relative stability of Iowa, the Winfrey Enterprise prospered as much as, if not more, than when they had plied their wares across California and the west coast. Meanwhile, Des Moines grew rich, economically and culturally, as the executives of the Winfrey Enterprise spend their money buying goods in its markets and patronizing artists, painters, sculptures, musicians, and poets. If you are ever in Des Moines’ famous sculpture garden, perhaps because you are a singer in Dowling Orphanage’s choir, look towards the base of each sculpture-- more likely than not, you will find the distinctive logo of the Winfrey Enterprise engraved.
Economic ties became political ties in time. Patronage was given, more and more, to would-be politicians aiming for a seat in Iowa’s congress. While no Seeyō or administrator ever held a seat in congress, save for the crossdressing Madam Lewin, more and more was power usurped by the coin-counters in the Winfrey Enterprise as they bribed or threatened politicians into compliance. Their goal was, of course, nothing less than to make Iowa a puppet of their economic interests.
Now, as merchants, the Winfrey Enterprise was full of opportunists par excellence. While their original plan had simply been to gain a supermajority of Iowa’s congressmen and thus the power to pass whatever legislation they wished, the ever-quarrelsome Council of Nine provided them an opportunity to assume control long ahead of schedule.
Taking a step back, the author should mention that the Third Republic of Iowa was prone to scandal. With six hundred congressmen, some politician or another would embarrass the congress on a weekly, or even daily basis. And with all the warring factions who called congress its home, Scandals weren’t handled with discretion and honor, but instead aired out for the entire public to see, so as to drive votes towards or away from one faction or another. Thus, the public opinion of congress had grown worse and worse.
The council, however, had always projected a false, but convincing image of being above the petty squabbling of the regular congressmen. But in the year 2601, over a span of three weeks, no less than four major scandals were uncovered, domino-style, concerning the council. The first was comparatively tame-- a councilman elected from among the nobles had skimped on the dowry for his daughter, dishonoring his family. But insulted by the leak of his personal affairs, he revealed that a councilman elected from among the academics had falsified his credentials-- he had graduated not from the Cyclonic Order, but from the far inferior Pantheric Order. Infuriated, and with little to lose after his public shaming, this councilman decided that he would be taking down as many of his other councilmen as possible. Going to the knight-chroniclers of the Chivalric Order of the Des Moines Register, he provided hard evidence that four of his colleagues on the council and a several dozen members of the congress were members of an incredibly heretical secret society known as the Men in Black. In an ironic twist, all three of the priests on the council were part of that number. Two academics and one noble remained with untarnished reputations. That is, up until the academics where found having affairs with each others’ wives.
The only remaining member of the council was a formerly impoverished count squarely in the pocket of the Winrey Enterprise. He owed the Enterprise a favor, and they called it in.
In front of the assembled congress, he gave a simple speech that effectively amounted to a simple request-- that he be allowed to resign, and that instead of electing a new council of nine, all three factions would instead use their three candidate slots apiece to elect the same person.
That person being, of course, his benefactor Seeyō Ellis Rachelsdaughter.
Between the politicians the Winfrey Enterprise had already bought and the remainder that had been fed up with the council’s constant quarreling, the election was a done deal. Using the loophole that technically only the regular seats in congress were specifically barred from being held by women, Seeyō Ellis’s Rachelsdaughter was elected Ninefold Councilor. And since the council had been envisioned as holding the same function as a king, Councilor Ellis was queen in all but name. Using the vast powers of a council unanimously united in one person, on top of the truly ludicrous political and economic resources she commanded as Seeyō of the Winfrey Enterprise, she rendered Iowa’s congress into a merely ceremonial organ, there mainly to rubber stamp her decrees.
The Corporate Era
Ellis was canny and sensitive to public opinion, and thus refrained from formally crowning herself. But after her retirement in 2611, her daughter and successor, Seeyō Cami Ellisdaughter, was not so restrained. She wasted no time passing through legislation crowning herself King of Iowa (as she disdained the connotations that the word “Queen” brought), and formally re-renamed the Republic of Iowa back to the Kingdom of Iowa.
Her requests to be crowned by the Pope and bishop of the Des Moines diocese were refused, each disdaining to crown a woman ‘King’. So, famously, she crowned herself, in front of two thirds of a congress. The clergymen, however, levied a boycott on her coronation. Men of the cloth had always been more resistant to being bought by the Winfrey Enterprise, and over the course of Ninefold Councilor Ellis’s successive terms had distanced themselves from the Winfrey Enterprise due to concerns over its unbridled greed and materialism.
The common people were infuriated. And not simply because a woman dared, in her hubris, crown herself king over the protests of holy men.
The Winfrey Enterprise had made Des Moines rich, yes. But those riches were unevenly distributed. Beggars laid as the foot of glorious statues, and marble roadways were lined with cripples. Farther from the capital, the rural places of Iowa had been neglected, forced to pay the same taxes as always, but with less military protection from Norse and Rust Cultist raids than ever due to a cost-cutting corporate government.
Minor rebellion rose and were put down with some regularity over the next six years. Iowa still stood strong, but to conceal the discontent of the populace at large from the insulated congress of Iowa (who still technically held power over her), King Cami used not her household troops or levies to put down each rebellion, but instead called on the mercenary armies of the Winfrey Enterprise to do her dirty work.
But unlike her catholic, Iowan levies, these mercenaries cared only for money, and often were sourced from godless and pagan locales. Therefore, when putting down rebellions, they typically went far past the amount of force necessary to simply pacify rebellions, and instead put entire villages to the sword, looting, raping, and killing without regard for culpability or innocence.
Thus, each rebellion put down only made the common people of Iowa more and more likely to rebel in the future. Thus, in 2617, the charismatic Father Ulf of Cannon, formerly a Norse raider who had, in his words, 'seen the light of God', enticed the people of his parish to rise up. And Father Ulf had something no previous rebellion had had before him-- a claimant to the throne.
The Era of Strife
Kim of Cannon had been nothing more than an ordinary man, until Father Ulf had shown up at his humble home, claiming to have seen in a vision that he was in fact the direct heir of the ancient and putatively extinct house of Branstad-Grassley. In this vision, he said, God had revealed that Fen, daughter of the last Branstad-Grassley King, King Louis, had in fact wed secretly and borne a child prior to her execution. That child had been spirited away to northwest Iowa and raised by pious Iowans as their own.
Had King Napoleon proven incompetent, that child would have had its dynasty revealed, and presented as a claimant to the throne. But King Napoleon and his sons were of course famously exceptional, and thus the secret to Kim’s lineage had long since been forgotten. Until now.
In Iowa’s hour of need, God had revealed a rightful king: a pious and humble man, an honorable farmer and thus true Iowan capable of dethroning the she-devil Cami and returning the ancient and just system of monarchy to Iowa.
Ulf’s rebellion only grew stronger as he approached Des Moines. Commoner after commoner rose up and joined his ranks, drawn by his promise of driving the Winfrey Enterprise from Iowa altogether. Meanwhile, the Winfrey Enterprise had only grown weaker. Already having spent much of its capital putting down rebellions with mercenary soldiers, other merchant republics had been slowly working their way into Iowa’s markets with marked success, not so hamstrung by the Enterprise’s matrilineal tradition.
Facing Ulf’s large, zealous force, the remaining mercenary armies on King Cami’s payroll chose to flee instead of engage, taking the gold they had been paid with and disappearing.
By the time Ulf’s army reached Des Moines, King Cami had already fled to parts unknown, taking the executives of the Winfrey Enterprise with her. The clergymen of Iowa’s congress already supported Ulf, and the nobles simply had no stake in the fight. Meanwhile, while the academics of Iowa’s congress had a vested interest in maintaining their power, their endemic corruption had bought them no friends, and without the mercenary armies of the Winfrey Enterprise, they had no force with with to defend themselves.
Thus, Iowa’s congress agreed to Ulf’s demands, elected Kim King, and then permanently disbanded without fanfare.
Father Ulf crowned King Kim the second of the house of Branstad-Grassley in front of cheering crowds in 2628, and Iowa settled down in expectation for King Kim’s rule.
Except, Kim really was nothing more than a farmer. And while farmers are of course the backbone of Iowa and immensely valuable subjects of the crown, they are not trained from birth, like true royalty, to assume their position. And in addition, there is the factor of what learned men call the ‘Mendelian Thumbprint.’ That is, the double helix with which God imbues all life with his plan. It transmits the divine right to rule across family lines and therefore the inborn administrative capability of true royals, and if Kim was truly a descendant of the house of Branstad-Grassley, it would have allowed him to rise, at least in some meagre fashion, to the challenge posed by kingship.
But Kim was in all likelihood not actually a descendant of the house of Branstad-Grassley, and therefore was not any more endowed with God’s grace than any other farmer. Thus, with no familial predisposition towards rulership and no training on the subject, Kim was forced to rely almost entirely on his advisors, and in particular Father Ulf, for the business of rule.
Father Ulf was an entirely competent administrator-- like all priests, he had been taught the necessary disciplines to tend to his parish, and he had experience leading men, both in his recent rebellion and long before, as a Norse raider. But above all, he was a man given to credulity. One dream had lead him to Kim. A second dream lead him to Napoleon Bone.
Of course, this primer does not categorically dismiss supernatural intervention in Father Ulf’s dreams. Given his success putting Kim on the throne, and the later actions of Napoleon Bone, it is in fact entirely likely that what Father Ulf saw was not simply the result of seeing God where he wasn’t. But the alternative is not pleasant to contemplate-- that rather than seeing messages from God, Father Ulf fell for the lies of the Devil.
Napoleon Bone needed no priest to tell him his lineage. Indeed, he would proclaim to all that would listen that he was the descendant of not just Napoleon II, via an unclaimed female bastard, but also a direct male descendant of the legendary Nathan Bone. And to be fair, his claim was not entirely unbelievable. Napoleon II, for all his virtues, was reported to have had a weakness for women. Nathan Bone, meanwhile, had always been rumored to have had many children, and the simple exponential math of descendants means that much of Iowa likely descended from him. But neither of these claims particularly mattered to anyone. Men had claimed descent from these men for centuries, to no effect.
But Father Ulf, credulous as ever, needed only one chance conversation with Nathan Bone over strong drinks (as father Ulf, a former norseman, still kept to some of his old habits) to declare his story true and claim a god-given duty to put the charismatic Nathan Bone on King Kim’s cabinet.
Beginning as an undersecretary to an undersecretary, even the slightest taste of power over mens’ lives is said to have driven Nathan Bone mad. He would spend hours pouring over reports, fantasizing about how even the tiniest stroke of black ink could save a man’s life-- or ruin it.
That taste of power proved addictive. Using underhanded methods to discredit his superiors, he quickly rose the bureaucratic ranks. Assuming more and more responsibility until he became as necessary to King Kim as Father Ulf.
And then one dark night in 2620, Father Ulf drank too much. Or, perhaps, was poisoned. With his body burnt on a pyre by norseman tradition rather than buried according to his new religion, we will never know for sure.
King Kim was devastated. His closest friend and advisor, the man who had given him his throne, was dead. Napoleon Bone, in a display of false compassion, assumed what few responsibilities the king had performed himself in order to “allow my friend to grieve.”
Two weeks later, King Kim’s body was found in the royal quarters, hanging from a noose.
Perhaps the rumors are true, and King Kim’s relationship with Father Ulf was improperly close, causing him to go mad and commit suicide. Perhaps he was killed by an assassin, and his suicide staged. But as with much of the events surrounding Napoleon Bone, any records that might have shed some light on the matter have been altered or destroyed, either by Nathan Bone’s allies, or his enemies.
Barely more than a boy when plucked from his life as a farmer by Father Ulf, King Kim had no wife, and left behind no heirs. But what he did leave behind was a will, possibly doctored but potentially even legitimate, naming Napoleon Bone king in event of his death.
Left with no better alternative but civil war, even those nobles who were already aware of Napoleon Bone’s hunger for power had no choice but to crown him king, perhaps hoping that with a crown, his hunger would be sated.
He soon proved their hopes to be an optimistic delusion. I am prohibited by law from writing about the specifics of the reign of Napoleon Bone. As those who suffered the greatest from his depredations, the people of Iowa can only hope that by erasing him as much as possible from history, none will ever seek to emulate him. Suffice to say, the empire he would form-- Transmississipiania-- perpetrated every atrocity and sin known to man across vast portion of the Mississippi River basin. His name is a curse for rust cultists in Ohio and illegal to say in the Republic of Boonslick.
Napoleon Bone divested himself of all emotions and desires natural to a man, perverting himself into nothing more than a singular desire for total control. Books were burnt to control what we knew; paintings where burnt to control what we loved, statues were smashed to control what we saw. Aimes was sacked, and the ancient Cyclonic order was reduced to only its satellite campuses. The blood of Iowans fueled a vast and terrible war machine until there was no more blood to spend, and then that war machine stumbled to a halt and fell apart. This primer refers to Napoleon Bone by his name because it must, for clarity, but it encourages you to refer to him only as the “king-without-epithet,” and even then only when you absolutely must. Do not make the mistake of thinking, as some do, that his actions had any trace of glory. An Iowan should feel only shame at our association with him.
The Reunification of Iowa
The collapse of Transmississipiana lead to all-out civil war. Brother fought father and mother fought daughter for sixteen long years of war. The counts of Freeborn broke off to seek their own destiny, and the house of Okableck, counts of Minnehaha, pledged allegiance to the heathen Lakotah, who then invaded southwards to unlawfully seize the counties of Rock and Floyd. But the idea of “Iowa” was not dead. Evey would-be king still declared themselves the “King of All Iowa,” and so we say that even during those terrible times, Iowa still stood, divided and united simultaneously, maintaining our kingdom unbroken from before the event ended the Old world.
And so, when the good King Franklin and his band of adventurers marched from the icy north, the people of Iowa could see past his pagan exterior into the warm Christian heart that beat within his breast. He was raised with the Norse, yes. But he had come from Iowa, and was taught on the knee of a virtuous Christian mother. He was no vulture, here to scavenge from the weak and sickly. He was the man who would reunite Iowa once more under the eagle, tricolor, and banner. He was the man who would shed the trappings of paganism as soon as they were no longer needed, and convert his heathen allies into god-fearing Christians with his vast wisdom and skill with rhetoric. He is the man who has ruled us with honor and justice for these past twenty six years, returning us to the prosperity of old. Not so we can conquer and bully our fellow Catholics, but so that Iowa can serve as the bulwark of Catholicism in the north. Strong and independent, forever.