The Dukes of Fernau, for now.

Very interesting, perhaps some Courlanders might be interested in the distance.
The option is kept open, for sure. But I can't picture a scenario worth pursuing that would lead to Courland being the first to do so. As I noted much earlier, the Cape is south of the range of malaria (thanks to all that desert between Angola and the Cape).

It feels a touch odd that I've given this timeline so much opportunity for sprawl, only to let most of them go. Maybe it's more convincing that way; maybe it's like a familiar life story.
 
All right, folks, a "last chance" morning-after, "what have we done" post.

The next chapter will be a multi-parter, with me aiming (and mostly failing, I'm sure) to write shorter instalments more frequently, rather than longer ones less often. This is your last call to prod me to address any European side-quests of interest to you.

Some utterly random samples:
  • What the heck is going on in Catalunya?
  • How is Judaism looking in Poland these days?
  • Is Lithuania on awesome terms with Transylvania after their Transylvanian king died and they elected a homegrown one?
  • Why no Liechtenstein episodes, dude?
  • Isn't it past time for Christiaan Huygens to move on to his next round of higher education?
  • Did the Crimean Tatars secure any lasting benefit from their role in splitting Poland and Lithuania?
  • What's the funniest way Oliver Cromwell could be killed off?

It's not that such requests will be forgotten later, but the windows of opportunity to address them in ways relevant to the storyline will simply arise much more rarely and slowly.
 
Will the Act of Union actually ever pass here, because of the Civil War deadlock and the stronger position of the Scots?

And how will you screw up France?

What's the status of English colonies on the Americas during the extended Civil War?
 
41. Slock, Courland, October 1655.
The Wooden Middle Finger - part one

The old veteran had seen the ships start to come in hours before, and then the dust of men moving across dry land in great numbers. He'd ridden his neighbour's horse twenty minutes south to gauge a direction, then came home to Slock.

Slock, or Sloka depending on which language you spoke at home, was about as close to Riga as one could get and still be in Courland. Riga lay east only a little closer than Mitau, the old capital, lay south. The road was a little under 13 miles, it really depended on which ferry you took to cross the Aa river, or Lielupe (language again), a minor artery of trade, but an old one, linking Mitau to the sea.

At Slock, the Aa turned sharply from flowing north to flowing east. It then flowed in a wiggling kind of parallel to the smoother coast of the Gulf of Riga, one mile further north, until the river split, part heading north into the gulf while the other part mostly continued east to meet the mouth of the Düna north of Riga.

Slock was therefore where the jagged spit between river and gulf connected to the rest of Courland. From Slock, he saw the gulf. He nearly saw the mouth of the Düna. He often saw smoke rising from Riga on colder days, when more fires burned. Today, he'd seen what he needed to see. He went to the mill, the most prominent building in the village, at least to anyone seeing it from the west. He grabbed the book sent from Libau, climbed out of the hatch of the second-floor dormer, sat on the roof, opened the book.

The book had only six pages in all. The first had brief instructions that the veteran had followed too many times before to need, and eleven numbered and labelled diagrams. The five remaining pages each had fourteen such diagrams.

The veteran put his glasses on, and for a moment considered his good fortune to live in Courland, where a man could have such things without being wealthy. Then he searched the pages for the words most able to tell Courland what it needed to know. In the distance, in the gulf, he saw a ship approaching the spit.

He did not hurry. He chose the word for his message, then straddled the peak of the roof to adjust the frame. He unhooked its fingers and knuckles from their "nil" position - an empty square. He moved three knuckles and one finger into position, reaching across the frame. He hooked everything again to hold the new position.

semaphore 43.png


Unlike any previous words whose numbers he'd configured in the frame before, this one came with an added instruction. He sat for a moment, contemplating the words. He'd read them before, of course - he'd read every instruction in the book. It was different to know a thing might be done than to actually do it.

He looked toward the ship, already sending rowboats to shore, toward Slock, toward his position. He looked to the church not far away, to his neighbours gathering there. Those that weren't fleeing west, at least. He adjusted his spot on the roof to where the telescope was mounted. Looking though it, he saw the frame atop the next station to the west, already affixing the knuckles into position: 43. That station, like most, was only a relay, so the person atop that roof didn't have the veteran's book, didn't know the message in the number.

The veteran headed back to the ground and followed the last instructions: he shredded and burned the pages, then walked toward the church to pray.
 
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Will the Act of Union actually ever pass here, because of the Civil War deadlock and the stronger position of the Scots?
Surprisingly, a question I've actually considered before, despite this being a half-century away OTL. But all I can be sure of is that it won't be the same timing or trigger. From what I gather, Darien wrecked Scottish finances to the point where debt pushed them into union. TTL's Scots probably don't have to pick as lousy a target as Darien for their ambitions. Maybe then EIC is more Scottish, less Londoner TTL.

And how will you screw up France?
Lol. Did you roll a die, and randomly get"France" based on the roll? France is in that tier of countries that are both relevant and unlikely to be greatly changed TTL. Saint-Louis (at the mouth of the Senegal, not the Mississippi one) is likely to come up, because of proximity to the Gambia.

What's the status of English colonies on the Americas during the extended Civil War?
That... merits addressing, though with no hurry. We still have the New Netherlands and New Sweden alongside New England. So a sense of proto-thirteen-colonies ain't forming. New England is a thing. Anything south of New Sweden is a separate thing. And maybe there is more parity among these colonies in the Americas with England's diminishment.
 
Surprisingly, a question I've actually considered before, despite this being a half-century away OTL. But all I can be sure of is that it won't be the same timing or trigger. From what I gather, Darien wrecked Scottish finances to the point where debt pushed them into union. TTL's Scots probably don't have to pick as lousy a target as Darien for their ambitions. Maybe then EIC is more Scottish, less Londoner TTL.


Lol. Did you roll a die, and randomly get"France" based on the roll? France is in that tier of countries that are both relevant and unlikely to be greatly changed TTL. Saint-Louis (at the mouth of the Senegal, not the Mississippi one) is likely to come up, because of proximity to the Gambia.


That... merits addressing, though with no hurry. We still have the New Netherlands and New Sweden alongside New England. So a sense of proto-thirteen-colonies ain't forming. New England is a thing. Anything south of New Sweden is a separate thing. And maybe there is more parity among these colonies in the Americas with England's diminishment.

A important factor is for every year New Sweden and New Netherlands survives the greater the cultural effect on North America they will have even if they’re conquered later. New Sweden as example in OTL was overwhelmed fast by English culture and the remnant population only last ed a century, while Dutch creole dialect in New Jersey survived until the early 20th century in OTL. We can really see the difference lasting a decade more made between the two. I suspect that if one of them last until the 1690ties, they will stay the dominant culture in the region even if they’re conquered.
 
A important factor is for every year New Sweden and New Netherlands survives the greater the cultural effect on North America they will have even if they’re conquered later. New Sweden as example in OTL was overwhelmed fast by English culture and the remnant population only last ed a century, while Dutch creole dialect in New Jersey survived until the early 20th century in OTL. We can really see the difference lasting a decade more made between the two. I suspect that if one of them last until the 1690ties, they will stay the dominant culture in the region even if they’re conquered.
Oh, how you tempt me to sidetrack myself.

I remember back when I thought I'd reach the war inside twenty chapters, perhaps fifteen. The cultural discoveries draw me like a moth to the flame. But for the most part, off in North America or other places far from the main action, I will mostly stick to only relaying the occasional fact in one of Jakob's letters. However many good stories might lie there, they're not this timeline's focus. (But replacing Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey with Kentucky Vasa Aquavit would sure be cool!)
 
Did the Crimean Tatars secure any lasting benefit from their role in splitting Poland and Lithuania?
I think it's a fair question to raise. As of the scope post-PoD, the Crimean Khanate has to deal with the whole Azov fiasco (Don Cossacks captured the Ottoman-held fortress, and the Ottomans put the job on the Khan because of the ongoing war against the Safavids) to the very least until 1642, when the Cossacks abandoned it since the fortress was battered down by ottoman artillery and only trenches remained. Besides that, there's the whole fighting between the Khan proper and the Budjak Tatars (which have vested interests into the Poland-Lithuania split), and IOTL Khan Bahadir Giray killed all the nobles from the Budjak Horde in a feast, reacting to treachery involving the bey of the Mansur clan (which held the northwestern part of Crimea), he wanted to take over the Budjak horde, a thing that would make him rival the Khan himself.

Also, Mehmed IV's first reign (1641-44) IOTL got short-handed for a fairly lol matter, he got switched for his better-claim brother because apparently he got denounced by the Ottoman governor in Kaffa for "ravaging Kabardia (i.e Circassia) without proper authorization" when dealing with a succession dispute between two of his circassian vassals. This is relevant because such brother is simply Islam III Giray, the one who got super active in the PLC frontier and participated in all the happenings of Tatar intervention into the Khmelnytsky Uprising, and would rule until he died of natural causes. IOTL in his second reign, Mehmed IV would ally with the PLC against the Cossacks and Russians, take a heavy-hand against the Budjaks and then be overall super agressive in all fronts (Like, in 1658 he simply sacked the capital of Transylvania?), being deposed because checks notes he attacked the famously rebellious Budjaks and...Sent his son instead of him with the army to help the Sultan against Austria???? I think the Porte honestly just straight up hated him ngl.
 
I think it's a fair question to raise.
Surely. But my point is that there are stories dearer and nearer to this timeline, and stories distant from it, and then a grey area between. Considerations from folks who would love to geek out on something in the grey area I'll happily engage with. I'll save a glorious Liechtenstein-wank for another timeline.

As of the scope post-PoD, the Crimean Khanate has to deal with the whole Azov fiasco (Don Cossacks captured the Ottoman-held fortress, and the Ottomans put the job on the Khan because of the ongoing war against the Safavids) to the very least until 1642, when the Cossacks abandoned it since the fortress was battered down by ottoman artillery and only trenches remained. Besides that, there's the whole fighting between the Khan proper and the Budjak Tatars (which have vested interests into the Poland-Lithuania split), and IOTL Khan Bahadir Giray killed all the nobles from the Budjak Horde in a feast, reacting to treachery involving the bey of the Mansur clan (which held the northwestern part of Crimea), he wanted to take over the Budjak horde, a thing that would make him rival the Khan himself.

Also, Mehmed IV's first reign (1641-44) IOTL got short-handed for a fairly lol matter, he got switched for his better-claim brother because apparently he got denounced by the Ottoman governor in Kaffa for "ravaging Kabardia (i.e Circassia) without proper authorization" when dealing with a succession dispute between two of his circassian vassals. This is relevant because such brother is simply Islam III Giray, the one who got super active in the PLC frontier and participated in all the happenings of Tatar intervention into the Khmelnytsky Uprising, and would rule until he died of natural causes. IOTL in his second reign, Mehmed IV would ally with the PLC against the Cossacks and Russians, take a heavy-hand against the Budjaks and then be overall super agressive in all fronts (Like, in 1658 he simply sacked the capital of Transylvania?), being deposed because checks notes he attacked the famously rebellious Budjaks and...Sent his son instead of him with the army to help the Sultan against Austria???? I think the Porte honestly just straight up hated him ngl.
I love learning this stuff. Dosing on history through the lens of anyone going deep and saying "you can't make this shit up" is invariably the best kind of dosing on history.

I thank you - I have my homework here, a little something to tie to Crimea, Lithuania & Ruthenia, and Transylvania.

(As for the Ottomans, I have one chapter to write in Constantinople... if this timeline makes it all the way to 1704.)
 
But my point is that there are stories dearer and nearer to this timeline, and stories distant from it, and then a grey area between. Considerations from folks who would love to geek out on something in the grey area I'll happily engage with. I'll save a glorious Liechtenstein-wank for another timeline.
Ohh, i missed the point of what you said then, i'm totally for geeking out on it :p, although i'm afraid Liechtenstein-wanking it's not one of my specialties, not in this timeframe, anyway (i have autistically researched medieval austrian nobility so i kinda know how to wank them very early, but that's besides the point.

Your examples of the gray area are kinda...Vague though, so i need to be properly rested and high-operant to distinguish things (it's like, 23pm where i am), so i'll be idea-ing tomorrow. I have some things i've gathered while reading the last batch of chapters;)
 
42. Talsen, Courland, October 1655.
The Wooden Middle Finger - part two

Lev looked up at his friend Ged atop the tower. A decade years earlier, they'd left Vilnius at the same time, Ged for work, Lev for safety from the Cossacks. They spoke German with each other, though it was neither's first language. German was the language of opportunity for each of them. Talsen was mostly German-speaking overall, sitting a little past the halfway point between Riga and Windau in the northern part of Courland that lay west of the Gulf of Riga.

Ged had apprenticed in the ironworks, Lev's father had helped manage its accounts and records before he died the year before. Ged had helped build the frame he was climbing to adjust. Lev had helped in designing its codes when he was at the academy in Windau. It was meant to be secret, he'd kept it secret.

"Wasn't this one of those Academy things, Lev?" Ged asked the same question every time Lev had seen him climb to the frame.

"You know the answer, Ged."

Ged unfolded the first digit halfway. One.

"So you know these are all numbers?" The second digit, fully across. Two times three makes six, plus one. Seven.

"From zero to eighty. Yes." The third digit, halfway. Nine, plus six, plus one. Sixteen.

"So why zero to eighty and not one to eighty-one? How do you know it's a zero and not a frame that just hasn't been set up yet?"

"That's what zero means. No message." The last digit, halfway. Twenty-seven, plus nine, plus six, plus one. Forty-three.

Ged looked through the west-facing telescope toward the next station that way. "Huh. I guess that makes sense. Like holding no fingers up on your hands being zero." He heard no answer, and looked down to see his friend looking suddenly pale, breathlessly leaning against a wall for support.

“Lev? You all right, my friend?"

Lev was not all right. He shook his head, but couldn't speak for a moment. He looked up at Ged, and the frame, counting again. Forty-three. "Has the next station picked up the signal?"

"Yes. My frame is giving the middle finger to the west, and the next station is about to give the middle finger to the one after that. I guess Windau will see its finger within minutes.”

By the time Ged stopped looking through the telescope, Lev was gone. So was the boy whose turn it was to sit atop the little tower watching through the telescopes for new signals. Ged rang the bell and climbed down. A new boy - the Russian kid, was his name… Max? - jogged across the street and climbed to the telescopes.

“Spaseeba? Is that how you say it?”

The boy shrugged, then nodded.

Within three minutes, Lev was back.

“Gedmintas,” it was serious if Lev wasn’t shortening his name, “can my mother stay with your family for a while? Her bad leg… she can’t travel.”

Ged furrowed his brow. Behind Lev, two carts were rapidly being packed for travel. Ged realized those packing were all Jews. He didn’t know what was going on, but it had to be important.

“Of course, Lev. Your mother is a fucking magician with cabbages.” That brought a chuckle through the seriousness. “You’d be doing my family a favour.”

“Ged, this has been the best and safest place in the world to be Jewish for the last decade. I don’t know how safe it will be for anyone for a while, but Jews are never as safe as others.”

“Will we be okay here?”

“You’re Lithuanian. The town is mostly Germans and Kurs. Whoever is coming still needs people to work, or else they’re invading for the wrong reasons.”

“Invading?”

“That’s your wooden middle finger. Invasion.”

“Who?”

Lev just put his arm around his friend and gently turned both of them to the east.

“That way, there are only three options.”after a quiet pause, Lev resumed gently turning him, then held him in a great hug. “Thank you, my friend.”

Then Lev crossed to the carts and kissed his mother goodbye. The carts started heading west, slowly. The walk to Windau would take at least a day and two nights of poor rest. They did not yet feel rushed, given the head start their semaphore-frames had given them.

“Lev! What if it’s Lithuania?” Ged shouted from behind.

“Lie that my mom's name is Lina or Dorota or something."

"What if it's Russia?"

"They'll keep your ironworks busy. And my mom can learn their borscht, too."

"What is it's Sweden?"

Lev wasn't sure. From the end of Kristina's time to the start of Karl Gustav's, it wasn't quite clear how Sweden was going to treat its Jews. The answer came from behind Ged, rather than in front.

Lev's mother was standing, waving her cane in the air.
She'd learned a thing or two from her husband's work keeping the ironworks' accounts. She spoke neither loudly nor quietly, and to no one in particular.
"Fuck Sweden and their taxes."
 
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Now i'm awake, and i have to say, that was a pretty sick line to end on!

Time to bring out the notes, i still have some things on the Tobago colony, but i've 1. Already elaborated enough on it a time ago 2. Grown weary of revisiting any notes about the Caribbean, that's what a month of writing up an uni essay did to me. Other of the hypothetical questions you raised gave me the imaginative itch, though, so let's go with this first:
What the heck is going on in Catalunya?
Although the Reaper's War (damn it how i love this name) started IOTL only in 1640 - so after the PoD, although near enough that it can be argued events ain't being butterflied yet - by the PoD of the story things were already fairly railroaded towards the Catalans revolting. Rebel leaders Pau Claris and Francesc de Tamarit would be elected as President and military member of the Generality (i.e, the self-government) of Catalunya, and by 1639 the peasants were already rebelling against having to quarter royal troops. Tensios were brewing for a long time, truly, the Count-Duke of Olivares was establishing a policy of redistributing the military obligations of the Monarchy towards the non-Castilian crowns, and the Catalans were the biggest enemies of such policy, because implementing it meant that the King was ignoring provisions established by the Constitutions, and the Catalan nobility took their law-code very seriously.

There's two ways you can play with butterflies here: IOTL, the Generality declared a Republic for great-lasting...four days, until Louis XIII, King of France, was acclaimed as Count of Barcelona (and consequently, Prince of Catalunya). A few days latter, Montjuïc happened, and by properly defending Barcelona, the Generality consolidated its mid-term existence, but its long-term one was threatened by the same things that made it able to try for independence in the first place: Peasant rebels were refocusing their targetting, from the Castilians towards their own nobility, people didn't like to be thrown from Spain to France, they revolted against quartering royal armies and ended up quartering royal armies for their nobility's sake, it was seen as high-order betrayal big time. Meanwhile, the French threatened its existence by basically being very unreliable (but not poor) allies, if the Generality tried to go way too rogue the french would just say "well but isn't Louis XIII your count? You decided it, now stick with us!", and the main advances of the alliance in the Catalan front ended up with the conquered cities of Rousillon going into french (and not catalan) administration.

Long-term what threw the Catalans under the bus was the campaigns in the south, if they had recaptured at least Tarragona or Tortosa (besides not losing Lleida) under Houdancourt, they could've hopes of surviving after the main european war went peace-mode, and the french became disinterested into the whole Catalan affair, and then its fairly limited support vs. the King of Castile and a fair chunk of their own people that denounce the Generality as traitors for "giving the country to the French" (quoting it, but that's exactly what they did, tbh).

Butterflies can make, somehow, popular discontent to boil up, i'd think that if the Generality gets defeated early on, the peasant rebels would take over the Reaper movement (or, thinking better, they were the "Reaper movement" who got hijacked) and create a weird dynamic in the Franco-Spanish War where there would be a piece of the front on active rebellion against any armies crossing it, would it result in something long-lasting? Probably not, but it can if given proper negligence, and the spaniards are more likely to be negligent with peasants that took over the country roads than with the entire nobility revolting, especially considering the whole war thing going on against France. Otherwise, you can have the Franco-Catalan thing going on be more successful, getting Tortosa or Tarragona or keeping Lleida, just enough for it to not die when the spaniards stop being distracted by the European war. I can see a stronger Generality trying to peace out the King during the Fronde revolt, proposing to break the whole Franco-Catalan commitment (and therefore closing a front) for recognition. I don't think it would be particularly successful ("ah yes you can be independent main economic hub of one of the my Kingdoms, it just requires stop allying with the french!"), but it can change the dynamics between France and Catalunya considerably i think, since the latter is threatening to go more on the independent side, also would be funny as fuck to have a three-way war where both sides of the Pyrenees treat Catalunya as their subject rebelling (though i'd think the french would honest just make a weak show for it, they kinda didn't care IOTL after Westphalia, they would just be aggressive on the probable catalan attempts to rightfully take over the administration of Rousillon).

Also, note that the OTL Reaper's War was important towards the "end" of the Arauco War in America, since costs were raising so much that the King basically ordered the colonial administration to treaty with the Mapuche, it was the first time the Spanish recognized indigenous sovereignty (and arguably would still be the only time 'til the end of Empire).
But replacing Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey with Kentucky Vasa Aquavit would sure be cool!
On that, i'd like to point that a significant part of New Sweden's colonial population was composed by Finns, as they were the Kingdom's most "migratable" people, "migratable" being with more to gain migrating, especially in the latter-end of the colony (during Dutch administration, 50% of the population was Finns!), besides, the New Sweden colony had as primary allies the Maryland-warring Susquehannock, that kept the catholic colony wayyy at bay until being attacked by the Mohawk in 1651, which compelled them to treaty with the Marylanders. I honestly became surprised by the non-intervention of New Sweden in this affair, but this is roughly in the same time the Dutch built up Fort Casimir to confront Fort Christina in the Susquehannock trade, so maybe the alliance was weakened by that. Unrelated but since the Finns practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, they live fairly similar lives to the Lenape and Susquehannock natives, i always found the idea of a Finno-Amerindian country culture in the interior of the Delaware-Maryland-New Jersey region to be oddly satisfying, such thing could actually improve the odds of long-term survival for the swedish colony, even. And though you said it isn't actually in the scope of the timeline - and that's perfectly understandable, it's always better to focus on rhe least amount of things possible - i can't help but think that in the grand scheme this may become relevant, even if it would be to receive the "letter treatment" (which is not a bad thing, i love letter chapters!).

To the notes proper:
- Kinda (a lot) speculative, but i wonder if once in exile, the Kettlers won't just go bonkers in marriage policy? Like, i don't see the sons and daughters (and grandson and granddaughters??? Unknowable how long the exile will be, lol) exiled Duke of the farthest and politically weakest Baltic country to be the best of marriage matches in Europe, and one could argue that at the same time, it isn't exactly good practice to just go shopping in the lower (poorer) nobility of Europe, although Germany would be the main target on this, if made. The Kettlers in exile would be in the position to make...Unorthodox marriage things, understand that as you may, i don't know...Maybe Queen Nzinga manages to finish the Portuguese in Angola (during the Dutch occupation of Luanda, at one point the portuguese were reduced to their inland fortress of Massangano, which Nzinga could've won by achieving victory at Kavanga in 1646, or by the dutch having any form of artillery whatsoever after their alliance won at Kombi a year later, i think the first one best because it would put Dutch Angola at peril (since the Dutch kind of broke their alliance by just letting the portuguese stay in the inland presidios, and Nzinga went there and conquered them properly). All of this shenanigan is just to say: Matamba-Ndongo has direct access to the coast (they lost it to treaty with the portuguese in the 1650s, if you're wondering) by the time the Kettlers are around in Fernau, and then suddenly her (Christian-from-birth) sister's grandchildren are marriageable! And that was a hell of a tangent oh my god sorry :coldsweat: (the apology part was written now!)
- What about Italy? It seems that nothing has touched directly such far and distant lands, and things are tracking as IOTL, i guess, besides the Christina chapter, lol, that was a fun one to read (but my non-english-speaking grandma became severely confused by me walking around looking at the cellphone speaking out-loud "fahk iuu alex ozestcherna" at-sync with the chapter. The region was rebounding from a Great Plague as of the PoD, but to be honest, while the rest of Europe was tearing itself apart, Italy was remarkably quiet in the late 1630s and early 1640s, serious stuff just happens in the Pope vs. Parma First War of Castro, which honestly, just read the wiki article, it's one of the dumbest wars ever. Talking of dumb wars, butterflies may avoid the Cretan War, which main cause and pretext was...the Knights taking supplies in Crete after a particularly political-sensitive raid. It may not avoid the war forever, the Köprülü family probably put Crete as target after gaining power - Because it's the easier way into military legitimacy - but it probably doesn't result in a 25-year war with a similarly-long siege of a city. Beyond that, there's the whole...SPQN incident, i don't know what could be done with it, but it's interesting enough to point out.
- Since Courland holds Santa Helena, i think Brazil is relevant! But i'm assuming you would let the revolt against dutch rule go as IOTL, since you refrained from touching too much in North America. As i have mentioned (i actually didn't mention it, but i mentioned the Dutch allowing the portuguese in the presidios, so now you know why) in the Nzinga tangent, the Dutch sorted out a peace treaty with the Portuguese, because now they were revolting against the Spanish, so technically New Holland, aka, Dutch Brazil, was a safe colony. But ever since Maurice of Nassau left the government (was taken out of it, really, the company thought he was spending way too much, lol), the WIC did WIC things and got the locals mad, making them rebel against Dutch rule. The thing is that the rebellion could've been suffocated early kinda easily at the beggining (the portuguese would sponsor it only in 1649), the uprising got off truly after the Battle of the Tabocas' Mount, and you was a pretty even engagement, the problem being poor preparation from the dutch due to considering the rebels way too "ragtag" (while they actually knew the terrain, y'know?). But that's just the brazilian me trying to highlight my country in the timeline :p
 
It's always about taxes lol.
I give credit to @Jürgen .

If you're facing Russian invasion, or Mongols, or Vikings or random barbarians, you fear loss in whatever flavour. But if you're a day or three up the trail from the major port of Sweden's colony across the Baltic, you fear loss in whatever flavour and taxes.
 
Dear @Talus I of Dixie , I am afraid it would take more time than I have to respond completely to your post, but I'll try to get the key bits while dispensing with the remainder as mercifully as possible.

Time to bring out the notes, i still have some things on the Tobago colony, but i've 1. Already elaborated enough on it a time ago 2. Grown weary of revisiting any notes about the Caribbean, that's what a month of writing up an uni essay did to me.
I'll support your weariness by not focusing action on Tobago for some time.

...and then, my fleeting moment of mentioning Catalunya earned a uni essay in its own right (causing me to wonder whether my true calling on this site is not as a timeline writer, but a poser of random, peripheral questions):

Although the Reaper's War (damn it how i love this name) started IOTL only in 1640 - so after the PoD, although near enough that it can be argued events ain't being butterflied yet - by the PoD of the story things were already fairly railroaded towards the Catalans revolting. Rebel leaders Pau Claris and Francesc de Tamarit would be elected as President and military member of the Generality (i.e, the self-government) of Catalunya, and by 1639 the peasants were already rebelling against having to quarter royal troops. Tensios were brewing for a long time, truly, the Count-Duke of Olivares was establishing a policy of redistributing the military obligations of the Monarchy towards the non-Castilian crowns, and the Catalans were the biggest enemies of such policy, because implementing it meant that the King was ignoring provisions established by the Constitutions, and the Catalan nobility took their law-code very seriously.

There's two ways you can play with butterflies here: IOTL, the Generality declared a Republic for great-lasting...four days, until Louis XIII, King of France, was acclaimed as Count of Barcelona (and consequently, Prince of Catalunya). A few days latter, Montjuïc happened, and by properly defending Barcelona, the Generality consolidated its mid-term existence, but its long-term one was threatened by the same things that made it able to try for independence in the first place: Peasant rebels were refocusing their targetting, from the Castilians towards their own nobility, people didn't like to be thrown from Spain to France, they revolted against quartering royal armies and ended up quartering royal armies for their nobility's sake, it was seen as high-order betrayal big time. Meanwhile, the French threatened its existence by basically being very unreliable (but not poor) allies, if the Generality tried to go way too rogue the french would just say "well but isn't Louis XIII your count? You decided it, now stick with us!", and the main advances of the alliance in the Catalan front ended up with the conquered cities of Rousillon going into french (and not catalan) administration.

Long-term what threw the Catalans under the bus was the campaigns in the south, if they had recaptured at least Tarragona or Tortosa (besides not losing Lleida) under Houdancourt, they could've hopes of surviving after the main european war went peace-mode, and the french became disinterested into the whole Catalan affair, and then its fairly limited support vs. the King of Castile and a fair chunk of their own people that denounce the Generality as traitors for "giving the country to the French" (quoting it, but that's exactly what they did, tbh).

Butterflies can make, somehow, popular discontent to boil up, i'd think that if the Generality gets defeated early on, the peasant rebels would take over the Reaper movement (or, thinking better, they were the "Reaper movement" who got hijacked) and create a weird dynamic in the Franco-Spanish War where there would be a piece of the front on active rebellion against any armies crossing it, would it result in something long-lasting? Probably not, but it can if given proper negligence, and the spaniards are more likely to be negligent with peasants that took over the country roads than with the entire nobility revolting, especially considering the whole war thing going on against France. Otherwise, you can have the Franco-Catalan thing going on be more successful, getting Tortosa or Tarragona or keeping Lleida, just enough for it to not die when the spaniards stop being distracted by the European war. I can see a stronger Generality trying to peace out the King during the Fronde revolt, proposing to break the whole Franco-Catalan commitment (and therefore closing a front) for recognition. I don't think it would be particularly successful ("ah yes you can be independent main economic hub of one of the my Kingdoms, it just requires stop allying with the french!"), but it can change the dynamics between France and Catalunya considerably i think, since the latter is threatening to go more on the independent side, also would be funny as fuck to have a three-way war where both sides of the Pyrenees treat Catalunya as their subject rebelling (though i'd think the french would honest just make a weak show for it, they kinda didn't care IOTL after Westphalia, they would just be aggressive on the probable catalan attempts to rightfully take over the administration of Rousillon).

Also, note that the OTL Reaper's War was important towards the "end" of the Arauco War in America, since costs were raising so much that the King basically ordered the colonial administration to treaty with the Mapuche, it was the first time the Spanish recognized indigenous sovereignty (and arguably would still be the only time 'til the end of Empire).

On that, i'd like to point that a significant part of New Sweden's colonial population was composed by Finns, as they were the Kingdom's most "migratable" people, "migratable" being with more to gain migrating, especially in the latter-end of the colony (during Dutch administration, 50% of the population was Finns!), besides, the New Sweden colony had as primary allies the Maryland-warring Susquehannock, that kept the catholic colony wayyy at bay until being attacked by the Mohawk in 1651, which compelled them to treaty with the Marylanders. I honestly became surprised by the non-intervention of New Sweden in this affair, but this is roughly in the same time the Dutch built up Fort Casimir to confront Fort Christina in the Susquehannock trade, so maybe the alliance was weakened by that. Unrelated but since the Finns practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, they live fairly similar lives to the Lenape and Susquehannock natives, i always found the idea of a Finno-Amerindian country culture in the interior of the Delaware-Maryland-New Jersey region to be oddly satisfying, such thing could actually improve the odds of long-term survival for the swedish colony, even. And though you said it isn't actually in the scope of the timeline - and that's perfectly understandable, it's always better to focus on rhe least amount of things possible - i can't help but think that in the grand scheme this may become relevant, even if it would be to receive the "letter treatment" (which is not a bad thing, i love letter chapters!).
Here's come the mercies: I won't focus on North America, save to acknowledge their state from time to time. I had looked into New Sweden enough to know it was mostly Finnish. Combining your colourings-in with those of Jürgen, we could very well end up with a New Helsinki fort in place of Washington D.C., or a balance of European powers that better allows the most resourceful or diplomatic native peoples to better hold their territories. So many good stories could emerge from that... and I won't be telling them, because they're not this story.

As for Catalunya, Spain, and France... and anywhere else I mostly haven't told stories here, my general modus operandi has been to leave things alone that won't impede my Courland story. England was stalled to allow Courland to grab Saint Helena. Sweden and Denmark's last peace treaty left the Baltic a little less Swedish, and left a shipping void for Courland to eagerly fill a greater share of. Courland needed some extra relative advantages to survive this war in the manner I wanted to write about.

I could wank the farther butterflies harder, but it's just not this story. Once they travel far enough, I set most butterflies free.

If you'd like a little butterfly-wanking without warranty of research, though, let's make it juicy. Say the Bishop of Urgell brokers a cessation of hostilities between Catalunya, France, and Castile at an opportune time. As co-prince of Andorra, the Bishop proposes Andorra as the guarantor of the peace. All three signatories lightly break the terms of the deal, though without significantly changing their relative balance of power. When they realize Urgell's peace was better for each of them, given their other entanglements in Europe and the world, they re-commit to peace, this time each surrendering a tiny slice of territory to Andorra as an apology to their peace-broker. Result: Catalunya exists, France and Spain become peaceful after a time of distraction, and you have Mega Andorra. At no point will Jakob be writing letters to the Bishop of Urgell. Side story concluded. =)


To the notes proper:
- Kinda (a lot) speculative, but i wonder if once in exile, the Kettlers won't just go bonkers in marriage policy? Like, i don't see the sons and daughters (and grandson and granddaughters??? Unknowable how long the exile will be, lol) exiled Duke of the farthest and politically weakest Baltic country to be the best of marriage matches in Europe, and one could argue that at the same time, it isn't exactly good practice to just go shopping in the lower (poorer) nobility of Europe, although Germany would be the main target on this, if made. The Kettlers in exile would be in the position to make...Unorthodox marriage things, understand that as you may, i don't know...Maybe Queen Nzinga manages to finish the Portuguese in Angola (during the Dutch occupation of Luanda, at one point the portuguese were reduced to their inland fortress of Massangano, which Nzinga could've won by achieving victory at Kavanga in 1646, or by the dutch having any form of artillery whatsoever after their alliance won at Kombi a year later, i think the first one best because it would put Dutch Angola at peril (since the Dutch kind of broke their alliance by just letting the portuguese stay in the inland presidios, and Nzinga went there and conquered them properly). All of this shenanigan is just to say: Matamba-Ndongo has direct access to the coast (they lost it to treaty with the portuguese in the 1650s, if you're wondering) by the time the Kettlers are around in Fernau, and then suddenly her (Christian-from-birth) sister's grandchildren are marriageable! And that was a hell of a tangent oh my god sorry :coldsweat: (the apology part was written now!)

Every current reigning monarch in Europe OTL is a descendant of Jakob Kettler. Why not aim for every modern monarch in Africa being added to the mix TTL?
I won't give too much of a peek into the future here, but you've hit one nail very, very much on the head. I have absolutely been doing my homework on succession practices south of the Sahara.

- What about Italy? It seems that nothing has touched directly such far and distant lands, and things are tracking as IOTL, i guess, besides the Christina chapter, lol, that was a fun one to read (but my non-english-speaking grandma became severely confused by me walking around looking at the cellphone speaking out-loud "fahk iuu alex ozestcherna" at-sync with the chapter.
I LOVE THIS. This is what validation as a writer feels like.
The region was rebounding from a Great Plague as of the PoD, but to be honest, while the rest of Europe was tearing itself apart, Italy was remarkably quiet in the late 1630s and early 1640s, serious stuff just happens in the Pope vs. Parma First War of Castro, which honestly, just read the wiki article, it's one of the dumbest wars ever. Talking of dumb wars, butterflies may avoid the Cretan War, which main cause and pretext was...the Knights taking supplies in Crete after a particularly political-sensitive raid. It may not avoid the war forever, the Köprülü family probably put Crete as target after gaining power - Because it's the easier way into military legitimacy - but it probably doesn't result in a 25-year war with a similarly-long siege of a city. Beyond that, there's the whole...SPQN incident, i don't know what could be done with it, but it's interesting enough to point out.
Italy has two paths to relevance in this timeline: Kettler proposing to the pope to colonize Australia, as some sources claim he did OTL, or Kristina being more successful than OTL at lobbying to become the Queen of Naples. Both are in the "probably not, but we'll see" pile.

- Since Courland holds Santa Helena, i think Brazil is relevant! But i'm assuming you would let the revolt against dutch rule go as IOTL, since you refrained from touching too much in North America. As i have mentioned (i actually didn't mention it, but i mentioned the Dutch allowing the portuguese in the presidios, so now you know why) in the Nzinga tangent, the Dutch sorted out a peace treaty with the Portuguese, because now they were revolting against the Spanish, so technically New Holland, aka, Dutch Brazil, was a safe colony. But ever since Maurice of Nassau left the government (was taken out of it, really, the company thought he was spending way too much, lol), the WIC did WIC things and got the locals mad, making them rebel against Dutch rule. The thing is that the rebellion could've been suffocated early kinda easily at the beggining (the portuguese would sponsor it only in 1649), the uprising got off truly after the Battle of the Tabocas' Mount, and you was a pretty even engagement, the problem being poor preparation from the dutch due to considering the rebels way too "ragtag" (while they actually knew the terrain, y'know?). But that's just the brazilian me trying to highlight my country in the timeline :p
I have written too little about Portuguese/Dutch relations in the South Atlantic. I'll fix that. It seems eminently logical to me that British setbacks and infighting over control of the EIC would give the Dutch freer rein for the VOC to be a greater thorn in Portugal's side.


Lastly: it's an interesting irony for me that we're having a wide-ranging conversation about the international butterflies interspersed with the most deliberately hyper-local chapters this timeline has yet to see.
 
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Dear @Talus I of Dixie , I am afraid it would take more time than I have to respond completely to your post, but I'll try to get the key bits while dispensing with the remainder as mercifully as possible.
No problem! I kinda literally just threw the notes out, so since most of it is speculative (and a lot of "shooting in the dark" speculation on that), i take no offense to merciful dispensation :), take the merciful dispensed parts as a kind of extra compliment to your work, since it's made out of love (that sounded way more cute than i intended it, but hey, i guess that's not bad!).
causing me to wonder whether my true calling on this site is not as a timeline writer, but a poser of random, peripheral questions
By experience, these are qualities which work in correlation, random and peripheral questions are usually what most good timelines bring up, after all.
Here's come the mercies: I won't focus on North America, save to acknowledge their state from time to time. I had looked into New Sweden enough to know it was mostly Finnish. Combining your colourings-in with those of Jürgen, we could very well end up with a New Helsinki fort in place of Washington D.C., or a balance of European powers that better allows the most resourceful or diplomatic native peoples to better hold their territories. So many good stories could emerge from that... and I won't be telling them, because they're not this story.

As for Catalunya, Spain, and France... and anywhere else I mostly haven't told stories here, my general modus operandi has been to leave things alone that won't impede my Courland story. England was stalled to allow Courland to grab Saint Helena. Sweden and Denmark's last peace treaty left the Baltic a little less Swedish, and left a shipping void for Courland to eagerly fill a greater share of. Courland needed some extra relative advantages to survive this war in the manner I wanted to write about.

I could wank the farther butterflies harder, but it's just not this story. Once they travel far enough, I set most butterflies free.
I actually like very much your approach to the surroundings of the main line of Courland story, mostly because it acknowledges changes without letting them steal the actual "star" of the "show" (i.e, Courland, and the Kettlers in general i guess, since the presupposed point of the story is for Courland itself to go kaboom, isn't it?), it lets the story sound comfy at times, it feels safe in the sense that we're clearly seeing the changes in the world by a consistent lens, and things that are far-removed from this lens will be treated as seen by such lens: far-removed.

In few words, you're good at not spacing out, and i say that as someone who got quite dumbfounded at my couple writing attempts, since i noticed i've surpassed my own capabilities in scope. Besides, i find personally pleasing to read about AH taken in a more person-centric and down-to-earth scope, which to work require a significantly consistent focus on a few, related, places.
If you'd like a little butterfly-wanking without warranty of research, though, let's make it juicy. Say the Bishop of Urgell brokers a cessation of hostilities between Catalunya, France, and Castile at an opportune time. As co-prince of Andorra, the Bishop proposes Andorra as the guarantor of the peace. All three signatories lightly break the terms of the deal, though without significantly changing their relative balance of power. When they realize Urgell's peace was better for each of them, given their other entanglements in Europe and the world, they re-commit to peace, this time each surrendering a tiny slice of territory to Andorra as an apology to their peace-broker. Result: Catalunya exists, France and Spain become peaceful after a time of distraction, and you have Mega Andorra. At no point will Jakob be writing letters to the Bishop of Urgell. Side story concluded. =)
That's definitely not what i expected, nor something i thought of, so i'm pleasantly surprised after (for common pedancy, lol) researching that this actually is on a surface-level fitting, since during the Reaper's War we had first a pro-Spain bishop, then seat vacancy, then a french-installed one (who wasn't consecrated) and then a Castilian who was non-partisan, besides Andorra itself was...Not well treated by the war :kisskiss:.

In the meantime i've discovered that although notionally independent, Andorra has the right to be represented in the Catalan courts (due to technically being a feud of Catalunya, argh, feudal intricacies), mix this with the fact that the other co-prince is the King of France, and it's not unreasonable for both to "gift" the Andorran principality with territory. Therefore, i stand satisfied with the butterfly-wank :), although maddened by no letters to the Bishop of Urgell :mad:, it's important correspondence!!
Every current reigning monarch in Europe OTL is a descendant of Jakob Kettler. Why not aim for every modern monarch in Africa being added to the mix TTL?
I won't give too much of a peek into the future here, but you've hit one nail very, very much on the head. I have absolutely been doing my homework on succession practices south of the Sahara.
I will be gladly...And anxiously, waiting, then ;) (as i have been ever since the first chapter, you've made me get attached to Courland and now i'll have to deal with all being set ablaze! :( ).
I LOVE THIS. This is what validation as a writer feels like.
You're welcome, i guess. I got a laugh from her thinking i was going crazy :p
Italy has two paths to relevance in this timeline: Kettler proposing to the pope to colonize Australia, as some sources claim he did OTL, or Kristina being more successful than OTL at lobbying to become the Queen of Naples. Both are in the "probably not, but we'll see" pile.
Christina lobbying to become Queen of Naples is...Something, almost the definition of the comedic phrase "One of the events of all time", considering the circumstances. The fact that i can see it going remotely right in some way with the needed dice luck - Because well, Naples is a mess - makes me go bonkers.
I have written too little about Portuguese/Dutch relations in the South Atlantic. I'll fix that. It seems eminently logical to me that British setbacks and infighting over control of the EIC would give the Dutch freer rein for the VOC to be a greater thorn in Portugal's side.
For that matter, things with the VOC got low-intensity after 1641, when they conquered Malacca. With roughly a decade of circumstancial """peace""" until the VOC re-allied with Kandy in Sri Lanka to drive out the portuguese from the island. Most actual anti-portuguese fighting was being done by the WIC, reasonably so considering the 10-year truce signed after the Bragança restoration, but by 1647-1648 it was clear the truce wasn't being followed colonially, VOC hesitation was in part due to the Anglo-Dutch War, in this case, maybe Ceylon would fall earlier (which means it might be worse for the Dutch, because Kandy will be better off and not entirely coast-less), or the VOC would try another Macau adventure, though i doubt it because by now they've already committed to Formosa, i'm not well-versed in the Dutch East Indies, but most freed-up cash would probably go there, to some purpose, so probably not relevant to the Portuguese.

But you know what's relevant? Yeah, the WIC, although their failures began before the english got involved. Unless they suffocate Pernambuco as i described, warfare in Brazil will as IOTL be taken up by the States General, but if they do it just might be enough to return them into being afloat, since in 1647 they got 1.5 million guilders from the VOC as restart capital. Being afloat does not mean prospering, though, even in the best-case situation for Dutch Angola (i.e, inland presidios are taken by Nzinga with dutch help - that is, in 1647, not 1646), Rio de Janeiro is sending the OTL expedition which mostly succeeded because the dutch garrisons retreated then surrended en masse. It's very likely that non-Luanda Dutch Angola becomes hijacked by Nzinga and the portuguese recapture Luanda itself.
Lastly: it's an interesting irony for me that we're having a wide-ranging conversation about the international butterflies interspersed with the most deliberately hyper-local chapters this timeline has yet to see.
Let me be! I'm spacing out from the fact that everything will burn down to ashes :cryingface:, damn you Swedes! And your taxes!
 
43. Windau, Courland, October 1655.
The Wooden Middle Finger - part three

Gatis loved telescopes. It pissed him off that his present job was all about looking through one that he couldn't move.

"Georg! Change!"

Georg didn't love telescopes, which was why he let Gatis man them whenever they had a shift together. Georg just wanted to sail. It didn't matter to where. It just mattered that he had the wind on his skin, and was part of a team working together.

"East or South?" South meant from Libau, East meant from Talsen and beyond toward Riga. Windau was a corner in this network of line-of-sight signalling. Boys like Georg and Gatis would be the last ones to hear if they ever decided to add frames north up the Baltic coast.

"East. One - Two - One - One. Forty-three?"

"One - Two - One - One? Yeah. Forty three. I'll tell Fritzis." Fritzis was the man with the Libau station's code book. Windau was by now the third-biggest town in the duchy after Libau and Mitau, so their station was built taller than most to see and be seen over more buildings. Georg went down a fair number of stairs.

Fritzis was drinking. He often drank. Georg shook him alert.

"Fritzis! New change, East. Forty-three." If the shaking didn't make the man sober up, forty-three sure did. The effect was instant.

"Fuck. Inta! Inta, ring the bells! Georg, run to the port and tell them we're being invaded, to the east. And get any other boys to run in other directions and tell them too. Wait..." he pulled coins from his pocket, maybe a dozen in all. "Here. Get your boys to run fast."

Fritzis slowly climbed the stairs to reach Gatis, who had by now fixed all three frames into position. Facing east, to confirm to the previous station their message was received. Facing south, to turn the corner and send the message toward Libau. And lastly, facing the sea, for any Captains flying the black crayfish flag.
"Boy, forty-three is invasion. If you want to check on your family, I'll mind the scopes and frames for a bit.

As Gatis rattled down the stairs, Fritzis checked the station East of him and saw the boy there had started clearing the frame, having seen their confirmation. He started doing the same, mumbling to himself: "Poor bastard probably doesn't even know what the message said." He saluted the kid, not that the kid would know.

Down in the street, Georg called for runners to come to him. Georg liked being in a team, after all. He liked the wind in his face, so he ran quickly. And he liked sailing, so he chose the run to the port for himself.
 
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44. Kreuzburg, Semigallia, October 1655.
[note: while parts 1-3 of this arc followed news travelling Westward across Courland from the Gulf of Riga, this part breaks that pattern, going to the eastern edge of the duchy]

- - -

The Wooden Middle Finger - part four

"Sergei, what were our horribly unspecific orders again?"

"March until you stand in the Baltic. Go around what is wise to go around. Go through what is necessary to go through. Claim for Russia something worth claiming. Sir."

"No mention of little boats to cross rivers?"

"I think they thought the bridge would be ready by now."

"And Vasily's orders for his men? They stay?"

"Own the Düna. Sir."

"Can they own it by finishing the bridge? Even a temporary span with some big logs?"

"I will ask, sir."

"Ask later. Signal the assault. Town first, bridge later."

Kreuzburg was defended only by taxes, promises, and trade deals. Its right bank, the larger portion of the town, fell with zero casualties, zero physical injuries. The soldiers contemplated the river and the incomplete bridge reaching toward them across their side of the Düna river from Düna island.

"They finished their side of the bridge to the further island, and then they finished the fucking Catholic Church on the island before the bridge? Are they really Catholics?"

"Lutherans, sir. And a bit of everything."

"Have they got Muslims? I don't want to face Muslims in battle again."

"If they do, sir, it's Muslims mixed in with others."

"I guess it's a big church for a town to have Muslims anyway. I thought this was where all the Jews ended up."

"Can't say I know, sir."

"Sergei, what's happening on the island there? The wood tower opposite the church tower?"

"Some idiot fiddling with a weathervane, sir."

"Are those meant to be... fingers? And is that a telescope beside him?"

"Yes sir. I think he has a book up there too. And that telescope looks to be attached to the tower. He can't move it."

"Stupid Courlanders. Fuck it. If this is what they spend all that money on, we'll march through this whole duchy unscathed."

"I think you're right about the fingers, sir. He's unfolding them into that frame behind him. I can't see with him blocking."

"You have better eyes than me, Sergei."

"He's leaning over to look through the telescope. Away from us. Wait! Now he's setting fire to his fucking book!"

"What the fuck?"

"I have no idea, sir. But he's not blocking that weathervane any more."

"Is that saying what I think it's saying, Sergei?"

"I think so, sir. That madman is telling us to fuck ourselves with a fucking weathervane."

"Fuck it. Shoot him."

The left bank of Kreuzburg, lately called Jakobstadt by the locals, was defended by an incomplete bridge, the consecration of a Catholic Church, and a dead man with a telescope, a burning book and an obscene weathervane. That man was the only casualty in its fall.
 
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