Part #306: Qu’vance la belle Pérousie
“AMERICAN TROOPS OUT OF PLATINEA
JUSTICE FOR THE DEL-PARA VICTIMS
WHAT IS LORD DEWHIRST HIDING?
MAKE THE OSIRIS INQUIRY FILES PUBLIC!”
– Protest poster seen on Berkeley Road, Fredericksburg, ENA.
Photographed and transcribed by Dr David Wostyn, November 2020
(Dr Wostyn’s note)
Before going into our next lecture segments, I should explain a few things. As we have made clear from the start, the collapse of the French Colonial Empire was an important part of the history of the Electric Circus. However, this was a complex process, depending on factors across the world and across a span of time. As such, it’s difficult to present a complete picture without dragging in other sequences of events from elsewhere. We’re going to do our best by presenting excerpts from a range of relevant lectures we found, interspersed with other matters.
(Sgt Ellis’ note)
There was a bit of a gap in recording these because, understandably, nobody was willing to hold a public lecture when the audience wouldn’t have been able to hear anything over the Bonfire Night fireworks in the background. Which, like at home, have a tendency to creep ever farther away from the actual Fifth of November on both sides.
Recorded lecture on “Pérousie: Your Distant Next-Door Neighbour” by Dr Raoul Rouqet and Olivia Hughes, recorded November 8th, 2020—
Hello – yes, please, if you wouldn’t mind taking a card as you come in – right – um – the lights – yes, aydub…aydub.
Aydub, welcome to tonight’s lecture by Dr Raoul Rouquet of the Université d’Esperance, that’s the University of Esperance to you and me (Chuckles) who’s here to talk to us about the history of his home country, Pérousie. (Applause) Dr Rouquet previously studied here on an authorised scholarship in the 1980s, at the College of William and Mary (Mixed hoots of approval and boos) and is an expert on American-Pérousien relations. He has published several books on the subject – yes, some of them are available in the foyer (Chuckles) and you may recognise him from his subtitled Motoscope documentaries.
Of course, Dr Rouquet is fluent in English, in American English no less (Approving murmur) but I’ll be here as translator regardless to keep us within the law (Chuckles) and to help out with any other matters. With that, if you would like to take the floor, Dr Rouqet…
Merci beaucoup, Miss Hughes – that’s thank you very much. (A few chuckles) It’s good to be back here again in the capital of the great Empire of North America. (Cheers) If you want to understand the history of fair Pérousie, you need to first know your own history – because you’ve had a great influence upon ours.
It is a strange thing, to our minds, that many Americans never think of us. If you look at your book of geography facts, you will see that the ENA shares a longer border with Pérousie than with any other nation. (Mixed noises of scepticism and realisation). And the ENA is the only country with which Pérousie shares a land border at all! Yet that border cuts mostly through a barren desert, and it’s a desert half way around the world from the core of your homeland. When one travels here and learns about your culture, as I did, it’s not hard to realise that you will not see us the way we see you. But in Pérousie itself, we frequently look to America. Not only as a neighbour, but as an inspiration. (Cheers) Hence, the title of my talk. We are your distant next-door neighbour, both far and near at the same time.
We also have many things in common. We were settled primarily by a single European country, and take our language from that country, but our people are comprised of those from all over the world. (Mixed reactions) We are not limited by those origins, but are something greater. Just as you speak English, but are not English, you inspired us to realise that though we speak French, we are not French. (Minor cheers) Just as you seized your own destiny when you proclaimed your independence in 1828, so you inspired us to take that same path, a century later. (Bigger cheers)
The year 2028 will be the bicentennial of that great event for you. (Applause) We will have to wait until 2042 for the first centennial of independence, but the path to that destination had begun much earlier. As we debated our future, as repeated French governments made broken promises to us, we looked to our west, to Cygnia, to the ENA, and realised that the people of Cygnia were not being run from Fredericksburg like a colony. (Mixed reaction) It was possible to build a truly free and independent nation far from Europe, and not dependent on Europe. (Approving sounds)
But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you really want to understand Pérousie, like any nation, you need to know her history. So let’s begin. Miss Hughes, if I could have the first slide please – thank you – oh, I see, this button here? – Well, do let me know if it stops working.
Now, this map here…uh…zut alors…at least it’s not back to front this time…c’est là...d’accord. So…yes, that’s it. Now.
Antipodea, the continent of Antipodea is remarkable because of just how isolated it was from the rest of the world…mostly. Even more so than you here in the Novamund, where there were still Vikings coming here in the first millennium AD, and some more debatable theories…now it’d be easy to start the history of Antipodea in 1606 when Willem Janszoon showed up – he was the first European explorer to land in Antipodea, almost two centuries before La Pérouse! – but that would be unfair to les premiers colons, whose role in the country we must always remember. (Unintelligible sound)
Eh? Pardon? Ah, oui. That is the present authorised term at home. You may know them as the Indiens, but that term is discouraged nowadays. It was never accurate, just as your own indigenous people have nothing to do with India, either. (Murmurs)
Les – that is, the first settlers – archaeologists argue about this, but they believe they may have crossed into Antipodea as much as 65,000 years ago. (Impressed and sceptical reactions) I know, it’s un grand nombre. The whole affair causes mal de tête for the whole crew of them – I’m sorry? Miss Hughes? (Pause) Oh, I see, my apologies, I will try to stay on English! (Nervous laughter) Yes, the archaeologists don’t like it, because that would make the – first settlers some of the earliest boatmen in history, as Antipodea still wasn’t joined on to Asia, and that doesn’t seem to fit their narrative.
But regardless of the details, the first settlers lived in Antipodea many thousands of years before the first European. Or even the first Asian, which I’ll get to in a moment. They had an Antediluvian existence in many ways. They lacked technologies which the people of other lands took for granted even in their most primitive days. They had no metal, no writing – so what, nor did Europe for thousands of years. (Laughter) But also, they did not have even the bow and arrow – a weapon which was present on every other continent. To make matters worse, the first settlers on Dufresnie were cut off from the mainland and lacked even technologies like axes and spear-throwers.
But do not go thinking that lack of technology made these people somehow less human than us. They knew how to control fire to shape the landscape to their own ends – not always with the best results, just like our attempts to master Nature today. (Wry chuckles) They had a very impressive command of oral history through song, passing down events like geological disasters which scientists have traced back thousands of years. (Impressed murmurs) And I should not speak in the past tense, for they are still with us. The Temps du rêve, the, how do you say – yes – the Dreaming-time, of their religions, and their art, they have spread around the world, influenced many cultures on other continents. When one thinks of the nations whose cultural bounties were ground down by the Societists (Angry murmurs) the first settlers have continued to leave their mark on the world.
I said Antipodea was isolated for thousands of years, but that’s not quite true. The ourigelle arrived in Antipodea somewhere between four and eight thousand years ago, no-one knows how. There are a few innovations that were probably brought by Polynesian sailors, some point in the murky history of those peoples not fully recorded by the Mauré oral traditions. There was also some contact between the trading peoples of the Nusantara and the northern first settlers, but it’s not clear if that preceded Janszoon’s first contact or not.
When the Europeans came, they thought they knew what they were looking for. The Ancient Greeks, having deduced that the world was round, wondered if there were lands on the far side of the Equator – which some of them, extrapolating from the fact that the climate grew hotter as they went south, imagined to be an impassible wall of fire. They called these mythical lands the Antipodes, which, two millennia later, would give their name to the very real continent I am pleased to call home. Later, mediaeval and early modern European navigators also speculated about a southern continent. They had mapped much of the northern hemisphere, and knew that the vast majority of the Old World and half the Novamund was located there. Surely, in order to balance this, there had to be a southern great continent, a counterweight continent, the Unknown Southern Land. Terra Australis Incognita, Java La Grande, the Land of Beach. They gave it many names, and assumed that every tiny island they found in the South Seas and the Indian Ocean must be part of a promontory jutting out from it, or an island chain surrounding it. No-one countenanced the idea that perhaps there could just be vast gulfs of ocean, with only the small continents of Antipodea and Australia [Antarctica]. Their discovery lay in the future.
Yet it’s also important to remember that Antipodea is still a big place. It’s the smallest of the continents, but would still stretch from one side of North America to the other. (Impressed murmurs) So talking about first contact between the first settlers and Europeans as world-changing isn’t really sensible. Captain Janszoon may have met the local native people on the peninsula that now bears his name – and fought them, sadly starting a trend that would continue – but that didn’t result in much of a long-term effect. The Dutch and other Europeans were uninterested in Antipodea so long as they only encountered the less-than-hospitable parts, such as that isolated peninsula in the northeast. What La Pérouse discovered was the more clement southeastern regions, and he discovered them at the right time, when France’s treasury was empty and the government was looking for potential new sources of wealth through colonial exploitation. Of course the Revolution intervened, but the settlement still happened. It wasn’t until this prolonged contact that the first settlers encountered the consequences of a continental exchange – technology, animals, crops, and, sadly, disease. Just as with the Tortolians here in the Novamund, smallpox and other Old World diseases killed far more native people than even the most bloodthirsty Jacobin fanatic could hope to. (Murmurs)
I don’t need to go into details of those bloody early years, when the colony nearly died out, when Lamarck and Laplace made great scientific discoveries through a ruthless attitude towards human life of any colour. La Pérouse defected to the Mauré people, whom he had established contact with on the same earlier voyages where he discovered Antipodea. In time, he returned to help lead a counter-revolution against Jacobin rule. Ever since, we in Pérousie have had a…complicated relationship with the Mauré. (Murmurs)
In those early years, a second colony was established, an outpost really, at Saint-Malo in what was then called the Terre du Robespierre. You would know it better as New London in Cygnia. (Reactions) Lisieux (More murmurs) wanted Admiral Surcouf to use it as a staging point to attack Dutch trade, which he did, very effectively. The Dutch counter-raided it when open war broke out, but Surcouf escaped, and had a second career in the UPSA. But Antipodea was seen as such a sideshow that they forgot to even discuss it at the Congress of Copenhagen at the end of the war! (Chuckles) It took until the Treaty of Blois, a few years later, to settle my homeland’s fate after the Jacobin Wars. The western part of Antipodea became American – Anglo-American, as it was seen then (Reactions) and was divided into New Kent and New London. The Dutch laid claim to the north as an extension of the East Indies, as they were then, hoping to put a barrier in the way of any future…piratical antics like Admiral Surcouf’s. But the remainder was allowed to stay a colony of the restored Kingdom of France. That is where our story really begins.
Nowadays, people often compare Pérousie to California – a land of opportunity, a great mix of races and creeds. But things were not so in the beginning, when it was just the native first settlers, the French colonists and the occasional Mauré visitors, rarely staying at that point. At that point, there was no need for any policy to try to limit immigration; on the contrary, the French Government was having difficulty persuading people to move to Pérousie. La Pérouse had been searching, among other things, for sources of wealth and riches, of valuable trade. But in the beginning, few were interested in Pérousie except scientists, a few of whom discovered potentially useful new crops, and missionaries, who sought to bring the faith to the first settlers. Well, there was another group who was interested in the first settlers, unfortunately, and that was the blackbirders – the slave traders – (Reaction) – whether they be Mauré, Javanese, or unscrupulous Meridian or European. That foul trade would not be fully controlled and suppressed for years.
No, if Pérousie became like California later, it took the same factor as it did there. Fièvre de l'or, gold fever. In 1841 gold was discovered at Bálerat, and that changed everything. That finding was made just as the California goldrush was dying down, and so we became the centre for immigration from across the world. Many came from France herself, and others from fellow Catholic nations that were felt to be just about acceptable – Italy, before she was united, of course, and Spain and Portugal in the days before… But there were also many immigrants from Protestant powers, and Muslims and Hindus from Bisnaga, and heathens from China and Siam. Not all of them were seeking gold, either; as Pérousie became a more prominent destination for that reason, it was also targeted by refugees fleeing political chaos in both Europe and elsewhere.
Vincent Yang, the great Pérousien playwright and campaigner of the 1930s, was descended from those Chinese immigrants. In his play Ends of the Earth, he divided Pérousie’s early history into five phases: ‘idealism, pragmatism, paranoia, momentum, and greed’. The idealism of La Pérouse’s early voyages, the pragmatism of Lisieux seeing Pérousie as a strategic staging point to attack his enemies, the paranoia of different nations securing that same strategic prize, the momentum of the troubled colony being propped up by Paris, and then the greed of the goldrush which finally made it self-sustaining. A single Governor-General tried to govern the whole of French Pérousie until 1839, when Malraux gave the colonies limited self-government and largely symbolic elections. These institutions, intended for an under-par colonial entity that was growing only slowly, would remain virtually unchanged and hidebound as gold transformed Pérousie into something very different. As in California and New Spain, official rules requiring immigrants to convert to Catholicism were largely ignored, and only the most enforceable taxes were paid to the largely-unelected colonial administrations. Pérousie’s demos developed into a new kind of nation, almost wholly divorced from the institutions that were allegedly governing her, especially outside the major port cities which the French authorities was most interested in.
Of course, not everyone was quite so blasé about how the continent was changing. There was quite a lot of public support for the Code Blanche when it was instituted in 1858 – a bit late, one might say, as the goldrush was already long winding down and the first wave of immigration was over. Perhaps the delay was also symptomatic of the insulation of the colonial authorities from the reality on the ground. But regardless, the Code Blanche tried to limit immigration to Catholics and, crucially, whites – hence the name. (Reactions) Its opponents called its supporters jacobins blancs – in that name, ‘white’ doesn’t apply to skin colour, but to royalism; they were saying that its advocates were just Jacobins paying lip service to the monarchy, but otherwise true believers in Linnaean Racism. Much of Pérousie’s political history has been based on reaction against that brief but bloody period of rule by the Jacobin Republicans under Lisieux, and this was an effective attack. There was a similar phenomenon in your own Cygnia, where colonists from Virginian slaveholder families were sometimes were looked down on as crypto-Carolinians and traitors against the Virginian government in the Virginia Crisis. (Mixed reactions)
I don’t want to imply that the vast majority of enfants de la voile were very modern-thinking and outraged by Racist policies – what? Oh, I’m sorry, Miss Hughes, would you care to explain while I take a sip of your very fine Virginia wine. (Approving sounds)
Thank you, Dr Rouquet. Yes, that is the term usually used for the original wave of French colonists of Pérousie, those who came with La Pérouse and in the immediate aftermath, and their descendants. Historically they often possessed particular privileges and wealth and were respected, even over and above later white, Catholic, French colonists. Like peninsulares in New Spain, or perhaps the First Families here (Laughter). The name means ‘Children of the Sail’, as they arrived in Pérousie before the age of steam began – at least for long-range ships.
Quite so – thank you, Miss Hughes. As I was saying – it’s not as if the people were exactly keen on competing for land and wealth with heretics, infidels and heathens – as they were seen at the time – but anything that smacked of Jacobin beliefs was viewed with deep suspicion. Pérousie, even more than France herself, was rife with conspiracy theories about secret Jacobin cults waiting for their moment to strike. This paranoia intensified after the very real Neo-Jacobin Portuguese Revolution, from which we had more refugees fleeing to Pérousie. It was fashionable to accuse one’s political opponents of being connected to a similar, phantom movement lurking beneath the civic society of the urban ruling classes. When Societism became a popular such fraternity among some bourgeois gentry in the late nineteenth century, it was even connected with Lisieux and Jacobinism in the popular imagination – which seems rather strange now! (Murmurs)
What really made the Code Blanche unworkable, though, was not public opposition but, again, the sheer ineffectiveness of the colonial governments. Even when laws did exist on the books in one colony, they might never have been implemented over the border in the neighbouring colony – or at least be worded sufficiently differently that a lawyer could, and did, have a field day with getting his bandit client off on a technicality. There was no central authority beyond the distant Paris and the single Viceroy in N’Albi. And Paris did not care what happened in Pérousie, so long as they still had their military bases and their trade routes and could tax gold and, later, opals as they left the continent. The limits of the reforms made in the 1850s and 60s by Villon and Resnais consisted of the establishment of local conseils paroissials, which were theoretically more democratically elected than the colonial intendancies, but were not further reformed when their French counterparts were. At the time, all they achieved was to further confuse the remits of the various laws, provide more jobs for the lawyers, and create bodies that criminals and the unscrupulous industrialists could suborn and exploit.
This kind of environment was a breeding ground for remarkable exploits, both fictional and real. Pérousie fascinated a certain kind of European adventurer and attracted them, ever since de Vougeot published La Terre Rouge in 1827. Artists like Claus Jensen came to see our landscapes and take inspiration from the first settlers’ artworks. Brave or foolhardy explorers, from Louis de Tabouillot in the 1810s all the way down to Prince Francesco, Duke of Venice a century later. Countless early expeditions faltered attempting to find a way through Les Montes Verts [OTL Blue Mountains] from N’Albi into the interior. When Guillaume Forissier finally succeeded in 1820, he found that escaped horses from the first colony had already found their way there, and had been breeding in what we came to call the arrière-pays, the, how do you say, hinterland? Away from the cities. Yes. Those horses would not be the first escaped Old World animal or plant to wreak havoc on our balance of nature.
Other adventurers were of less high-minded ideals. While gangs ruled the hinterland between cities, the real-life master criminals controlled criminal underworlds in the cities and inspired countless fiction. Perhaps most famous are the great rivals of the 1860s, Farinole and Vizzini – usually known simply as Le Corse and Le Sicilien – who controlled crime syndicates dominating N’Albi and Béron, respectively. While the two great cities’ fashionable societies and businessmen constantly sought to one-up one another, the two criminal unions mirrored their struggle with cloak and dagger in the side streets. The two leaders themselves, of course, moved in the same fashionable circles, often controlling the appointments of intendants and mayors. Even now, their time is romanticised as a setting for historical fiction, but let us not mince words. Many in high society were perfectly aware of Farinole and Vizzinis less-legitimate interests, but were content to tolerate them providing they kept the streets safe for the wealthy who paid their menaces ‘insurance’ money. Who cared if lesser folk were caught in the wheels? Did it really matter if they were beaten by a gang enforcer or by one of the corrupt policemen? Often there was little distinction regardless.
Some tried to fight back. In reality, few were as famous as the fictional exploits of La Flèche, the mysterious hooded archer who took his inspiration from the folk hero Guillaume Tell. As Tell had fought against cruel oppressors, La Flèche – a masked hero in the tradition of your Black Shadow – was a vigilante who sought justice, or revenge, against thinly-disguised examples of the crime figures of the day. True, La Flèche might only exist within the pages of the bloodies and sequents which his creator, Genevois immigrant Philippe Bordier, penned; but he spoke to anger and resentment amongst the wider populace. A few tried to emulate him in reality, but even in our baking red sands, the light of day is cold, and most simply came to a sticky end. Farinole and Vizzini were defeated not by a masked hero, but by weakening each other through repeated struggles and then being overthrown and killed by a new generation of crime lords drawing on more recent, less complacent groups of immigrants. Pérousie remained seen as a wild frontier, a place of opportunity where any man of sufficient ruthlessness, skill, and luck could build his own way – with little in the way of authority to stop him.
But as Pérousie matured as a society, our people had an awakening that this ineffectual, decentralised government was not a good thing for us. For one of adolescent mindset, thinking only of the mining claim he could illegally jump with a gang of armed supporters, for the rich travellers he could steal the opal jewellery of, for the taxes he could dodge – an ineffective government seemed like a positive. But then that hypothetical man of youthful, rebellious mind is forced to confront the fact that now he is the one with the wealth and no way to protect it. His old gang members grow jealous and envious and plot to betray him for a share of his riches. The governments, which could not secure enough tax revenue to pay for a proper police force to stop his crimes, now cannot stop those who thieve from him in turn. Even if he keeps his wealth, he will spend the rest of his life in paranoia. Just as will the man who found his gold gulch perfectly legally, but again could be robbed at any time. And that is no way to live.
In the cities, where the ruling classes dwelt, things were a little different. The colonies did create Gendarmeries modelled on that in France, often aimed at protecting the wealth of the colonial councilmen and other members of high society. Industry began to develop, too, and then that was another source of wealth and power for factory owners. But it also highlighted the inequality inherent in the system. If a poor man risked his life in a dangerous mine to obtain gold or opals, at least it was his own decision, gambling with his life for a rich reward. But increasingly, the factory jobs offered represented similar levels of risk with no prospect of reward, only a pittance of a wage. Like the UPSA and here in the ENA, Pérousie acquired a number of German Populist immigrants advocating for Mentian ideals. But unlike the UPSA – and like the ENA – we watched as Meridian corporations became so powerful that even the elected Meridian government became effectively subordinated to them. And we knew what the ENA could deliver, for we shared a border with Cygnia and watched in envy as she won full representation in your Parliament. Would we bow the knee to corporate overlords? As your politicians did in that period, we said ‘no’.
But without a strong central government being created by Paris, we resolved to do it ourselves. The first organised labour meetings began in the 1870s. Unlike the existing political institutions, they were not localised within cities or colonies, but stretched across the whole of Pérousie, reflecting a new identity which Paris still refused to acknowledge. There were early divisions, like those in the Mentians in the UPSA, over whether these organisations would remain French-only or Catholic-only, or whether they would reach out to others as well. It was not long before the exclusivists were defeated. It was not simply a moral question, but a pragmatic one. Once again, as in the UPSA, selective travaillisme merely ensured that the factory owners would offer the non-French or non-Catholic workers a pay rise to defy the strike and fill the jobs vacated by the exclusivist strikers. It was only by uniting all groups under one flag that…
Sorry, can I interrupt you there, Dr Rouquet? Just another definition for the audience…travaillisme would directly translate as ‘worker-ism’ or ‘labour-ism’ in English. We would most probably use the term ‘unionism’, as in the English political party.
Mes apologies, thank you, Miss Hughes. Yes…theTravaillistes served to establish a Pérousien identity that was, at least to some extent, cross-racial and cross-confessional. But, of course, not cross-class. In Pérousie as elsewhere, organised labour was seen as an existential threat; not only by the ruling classes who had the most to lose, but by the middling bourgeoisie who merely had something to lose. So long as the bourgeoisie remained loyal to the King of France and the largely moribund colonial governments instituted decades ago, the Travaillistes could not break into the cities or stand up to the Gendarmeries. And, of course, the cities were usually where the factories and the workers were. So the Travaillistes might have been the beginning of independent Pérousie, but they were certainly not the end.
The Travailliste movement, and other factors, were sufficiently alarming to Paris for the colonial authorities to finally be reformed, with the institution of full Parlements-Provincial in 1888. But these bodies, though named for the ones in France, proved rather more fractious. Though there was finally some level of popular representation, the franchise remained highly exclusive, giving undue weight to the urban bourgeoisie at the expense of the workers, and in particular those who did not meet arbitrary language and confessional qualifications. In a sense, this was only reflecting laws which had been on the books for years, but suddenly they were now being enforced by bodies that could govern. The problem was how they chose to use that ability. The ‘salutory neglect’ period of Pérousien history was definitively over. Crackdowns against the Travailliste movement began, and unrest bubbled beneath the surface. The rebellion on the penal colony on the island of Dufresnie was only the most obvious sign of this. The reaction in Pérousie in the late 1890s was part and parcel of the same revolt against the gilded age of the Long Peace as Monterroso in the UPSA. (Mixed murmurs)
As with many long-running disputes, the outbreak of the Pandoric War put ours on hold for some years – in a way. Pérousie’s fractiousness probably played a role in French Prime Minister Leclerc’s decision to maintain armed neutrality during the war. (A few resentful murmurs) French troops might be needed to subdue a rebellion in Pérousie – they were needed to subdue one in Dufresnie, and failed, in part because they were being used to hold us down. That was a big moment in our history. The politicians in Paris might pat themselves on the back because they had stayed out of the war, Nouvelle-Hollande had joined us with the fall of the Batavian Republic, and the Mauré had finally become effective French vassals after Wehihimana’s failure in Gavaji. But we knew otherwise. They had exposed their weakness. Pérousien Travaillistes sensed an opportunity, while Pérousien bourgeoisie felt they could no longer rely on Paris to defend their own interests against the Travaillistes and they must take affairs into their own hands. Suddenly people from all classes were united in wanting to run Pérousie themselves, even if they did not agree on how it should be run.
We might have been neutral during the Pandoric War, but Pérousien troops fought under the French flag in the IEF intervention in the former UPSA, which ended in failure. That sparked resentment here just as it did in France proper. Both the wealthy and the poor demanded true self-rule, with one campaign being funded by the businessman Paul-Louis Voisin. His brother Jean had been elected to the Grand-Parlement in Paris, representing some flyspeck circonscription near Bordeaux – the old one, I mean, for all seven million Pérousiens still had no representation in the Parlement in Paris. Jean Voisin became known as ‘the parlementaire for Pérousie’ for speaking for Pérousien interests – at least, that’s how the French press portrayed it, but of course he was speaking for the interests of the Pérousien wealthy industrialists and ruling classes. Still, for now, his goals were ultimately aligned with those of the Travaillistes. Like them, he called for true self-rule, for Autogovernance, as we called it. The right to elect truly powerful governments locally, and to elect parlementaires to the Grand-Parlement, like the other eighty-five percent of French subjects.
When Leclerc tried to buy off our demands with largely symbolic concessions, the Travailliste leader Yves Ouarena Touage and others organised a general strike that paralysed the country. Some moderate figures travelled to France to argue for us, like the Jansenist preacher Manuel Durand. All of this, together with the failures in Dufresnie and South America and some domestic issues, combined and the French electorate voted Leclerc and the Verts out of power for the first time in a quarter-century.
We had high hopes of the incoming Rouvier Diamantine ministry, and not all of them were in vain. But good intentions could only bridge the gap so far, for we had been growing culturally apart from France for so long, just as, say, you did from Carolina long before the Great American War. (Murmurs) Rouillard, the Foreign Minister, was friends with the Pérousien writer Auguste Migaud, which helped ensure Mercier – I mean, Robert Mercier – took the crisis seriously. He worked to try to resolve it even through his illness Madame Mercier, who would eclipse him one day of course, toured Pérousie with the Dauphin, as he then was, in 1908. It was a small gesture, looked at objectively, but the people took it in the spirit it was intended, and an outswelling of loyalty to the monarchy appeared which surprised many. It took until 1914 to ram a settlement through the Grand-Parlement, but Mercier managed to upgrade our Parlements-Provincial until they were worthy of the name, and also give us the right to elect parlementaires to the Grand-Parlement. It was strenuously opposed by the opposition Verts, and their leader Soissons even referred to us as ‘lickspittle colonials’. (Murmurs) He apologised later, but we did not forget. When we voted for the first time, we elected allies of the Diamantines for the most part, even the wealthy – though we formed our own parties, of course.
Despite what happened later, September 19th, 1914 is still recognised as “La fête de Perousie” and is a national day at home. Our expats in France celebrate it, too, and you may even have seen a few of them here in Fredericksburg – the kangourou masks, the singing, and, of course, the traditional half-toise of beer? (Laughter and signs of recognition) I thought so. We get everywhere, you know, tout le monde.
Paris might have thought that they had achieved a lasting settlement and sat on their laurels. But, even without the Black Twenties, problems remained. Suffrage was still not universal, there was still no strong central authority beyond the largely symbolic Viceroy, and the powerful new Parlements-Provincial bickered with each other as often as they united. Labour disputes remained a running sore, especially when the Panic of 1917 struck. Mercier launched his ‘Mitigation’ policy which helped some, but the shockwaves it sent through the French colonial economy had negative effects on Pérousie as well. Unlike Bisnaga, Pérousie was not deliberately targeted with damaging tariffs to spare French business, but policies were still often tone-deaf and insensitive. Rouillard, a friend to Pérousie, succeeded Mercier as Prime Minister in 1919, and hopes rose – but then came the Black Twenties.
Can there be any corner of the world that was not changed by those horrors? At least Pérousie was not hit as hard by the plague as some lands. Like yourselves, we benefited from being a young country, our people spread out, our cities designed rationally almost from the start, with modern sanitation. Nonetheless, many still met with a horrible fate. Not as horrible, however, as what was to come. Pérousien troops had fought alongside French ones in South America some years before, but that conflict paled into comparison besides the Black Twenties. Some young men did volunteer to go and fight in Europe. The plague and the futile meat-grinder of the nightmarish trench warfare in Poland achieved something unexpected; in an act of Paleian selection, the Polish front had the effect of winnowing out men who had felt patriotic loyalty to France and King Charles XI, while also turning many of their grieving families against those things as well. It would have been different if their sacrifice had meant something, but what did those long years of suffering change? A small chunk of European soil transferred to someone else’s hands, a patch of land that could be lost in one of the mega-agri complexes of our arrière-pays or your Michigan and Panimaha – if France thought that worth it, that just illustrated how much the values of the Old World were removed from us. (Thoughtful murmurs)
Even more so than Poland, though, there was Chambord. Admiral Chambord, who I think remains known here (Sounds of acknowledgement) for his petty rivalry with your Admiral Crittenden. Chambord commanded French naval forces in the Pacific and was eager to strike a blow against the Russians in Gavaji. Never mind that Gavaji was no threat to us or to the Mauré who were also pressed into the fight. First Chambord complained that you Americans had not sent enough forces, and then, when you did, he complained that you won a victory – at the Battle of the Goodman Sea –where he had failed!
Chambord was determined to get his revenge by beating the Russians himself. Not because it was strategically vital or important to the course of the war, but because he was a petty man of small mind. He rode roughshod over our Parlements-Provincial and other elected officials, even the Viceroy himself, requisitioning carelessly wherever he went, brushing off his sailors… let us say, behaving badly in our ports. Chambord thought himself a Dictateur, and though our elected parlementaires in Paris protested, Prime Minister Cazeneuve was embattled and refused to get involved. He even talked about transferring land from Pérousie to Cygnia as an attempt to bribe you into staying in the war! (Reaction)
So what did Chambord do with his unchallenged power? He took our young boys and hurled them against the Russians and Gavajskis in Gijlo Sanguinolent, Bloody Gijlo. His foolhardy attempt to take Veliky Island from the Russians, in 1925. After eight months of brave, bitter, but futile struggle, our forces were finally withdrawn, many of them staying there on the beaches in shallow graves. We had fought alongside the Mauré, and many of our earlier mutual tensions were healed as we earned one another’s mutual respect. When Chambord tried to introduce conscription, the Travaillistes halted our cities with strikes and all Parlements signed a resolution refusing to participate. From that moment, Pérousie might as well have been in open rebellion against Paris. It just took Paris a few years to realise that. (Chuckles)
You need to understand that what had really held Pérousie – no, not just Pérousie, but the whole French colonial empire – together, was mutual distrust. Paris could rule over vast numbers of people with a small number of troops and administrators, because those people would never unite against them. The first settlers hated the enfants de la voile, who hated the later French immigrants, who hated the Catholic Spanish, Italian and Meridian immigrants, who hated the Protestant German and Scandinavian immigrants, who hated the Muslim and Hindu Bisnagi immigrants, who hated the pagan Chinese and Siamese immigrants, who hated the Mauré. One moment, I need a sip of this fine wine. (Laughter)
Historically there had been no more unity in Bisnaga than in Pérousie, either; not between Muslim, Hindu and Christian, between Mysorean and Keralan, between Wodeyar and Venad. The classes were in conflict there, too, with royals and priests resentful of French rule, but fearful of the wrath of the workers and farmers being unleashed if the French military forces were removed. But the Black Twenties had exposed that this seeming French strength was hollow. Just as we had seen a generation before, with their failure to stop Dufresnie’s independence. Travaillisme was spreading among the proletarians of Bisnaga, too, and France seemed powerless to stop it. The Bisnagi royal families and other indigenous power figures began to wonder if relying on the French would only doom them in the long run, and they began to open dialogue with these rebellious groups.
But I am here to talk about Pérousie, though our alignment with the Sortie de Bisnaga movement was also important to our own struggle for independence. Public anger grew with the ineffectual post-war Rubis government of Vincent Pichereau, which could not even stop the Societists in France’s own arrière-cour. (Sound of slamming hand on lectern) Pichereau put up a damned statue to that butcher Chambord! Small wonder that what the French referred to euphemistically as the ‘Pérousien Question’ or ‘Pérousien Problem’ continued to simmer throughout his three years in power. Three years too long. We had spent so many decades as a nation without rule of law, where ruthless crime lords would stop at nothing to get their way. Is it any wonder that bombs began to explode outside French military bases, that soldiers found their throats cut in the night by patriotic women in the guise of prostitutes?
When Mercier – Madame Mercier – came to power in 1929, we knew that we had someone we could negotiate with, someone who had recognised our calls for action during the war. But Mercier still naïvely thought that the situation could be salvaged with Pérousie remaining part of the French Empire. Any policeman or other official who would not wear the symbol of the independence movement on an armband or sash could no longer walk the streets at night. It was a poisonous time, a divisive time, but crucial to us developing our identity today. That emblem is now on our flag today, which you have all seen: the beautiful red ourata flower. Unlike the mere three petals of the French fleur-de-lys, the ouarata has countless flowerheads in a whorl that symbolises the endless possibilities and diversity of Pérousie. (Impressed murmur)
Negotiations dragged on into the 1930s, and while the rest of the world enjoyed the peace and prosperity of what came to be called the Electric Circus, tensions continued to build at home. Mercier was the more reasonable of the options to be in power in France, we knew, and even she was proving more intransigent than we had hoped. With emotions rising in Bisnaga and Autiaraux as well, it could only be a matter of time before a spark lit the fuse…and then came the Question canadien, ah, the Canajun Question, something which you Americans are more familiar with. (Audience reaction is abruptly cut off)
(Dr Wostyn’s note)
We shall cut this recording short here, as Dr Rouquet’s talk goes on to cover events which are linked to those in Europe and India which we have not yet got to. We will return to Dr Rouquet at a more appropriate time.
(Sgt Mumby’s note)
And while he’s busy doing that, let’s have something a bit more fun for a change. Dom, go and fetch my notes on progress in pop culture…
 ‘Antediluvian’ in this sense is used to mean ‘Stone Age’.
 Dingo, the French word here deriving from the Dharug word for a large dingo (transliterated into English as ‘worigal’).
 The OTL Cape York Peninsula. The TTL name was given to it more than a century after Janszoon’s death by the VOC, who were taking every opportunity to emphasise their alleged historic claims to northern Antipodea after the Jacobin Wars.
 See Part #84 in Volume II.
 Or people from the ENA and other parts of the Novamund, but Dr Rouquet is being diplomatic.
 See Part #154 in Volume IV. Note that, as in historical Australia (where the Ballarat discovery was made a decade later) it was not the first discovery of gold there, but is the one remembered as it kicked off the most iconic goldrush.
 While Rouquet makes it sound like there were a lot of Chinese (and will later mention an important Sino-Pérousien playwright) it is worth noting that there are rather few Chinese emigrating to Pérousie at this point (the book quoted in Part #154 even suggests there were none). Even with later waves of immigration, there are fewer Chinese proportionately in modern Pérousie than in historical Australia. This is largely because the Feng Dynasty at the time offered more economic opportunities closer to home (as did the ramshackle colonial regimes in Formosa and Hainan) than OTL’s chaotic and wartorn Qing, so only the most adventurous and reckless Chinese fortune-seekers tended to move to Pérousie (or California).
 See Part #154 in Volume IV.
 ‘Nouvelle Albi’ is commonly slurred to this by the Pérousiens, which is well known enough that the audience understands Rouquet.
 This is not quite correct, as France herself did not yet have universal suffrage at this point.
 See Part #275 in Volume VII.
 See Part #270 in Volume VII.
 In fact, the number of Pérousien soldiers who went to Europe was rather smaller than Rouquet is making it sound, partly because the plague hit right when many were due to leave, leaving them stuck in limbo in camps in Nouvelle Frise. More Pérousien troops were sent to Bisnaga to keep the peace than to Europe, but Rouquet is neglecting this as he wants to emphasise the later coordination between Pérousien and Bisnagi independence movements – rather than dwelling on the previous bad blood caused in part by Pérousien soldiers moving down Bisnagi strikers.
 See Part #294 in Volume VIII.
 Telopea speciosissima, spelled ‘waratah’ in OTL, where it was considered for the national flower of Australia and was instead adopted as that of New South Wales specifically.