Gernikako Arbola: A Basque AAR - Introduction

Author: Kravock
Published: 2018-05-06
An attempt at a realistic, semi-serious RP based AAR as HFM's Basque Country.

Part of the campaign:

Gernikako Arbola: A Basque AAR

Hello and welcome to my first AAR ever! I will be playing as the HFM Basque Country in northern Iberia. I don't have loads of experience in Vicky, so I will be doing a (mostly) peaceful run, focusing on roleplaying, and maintaining historical plausibility (I'll try to keep things fun, but within reason). If that's your thing, welcome!

DISCLAIMER: Basque nationalism is and has been a controversial topic for a long time. This AAR is not intended to have a political message, and is just an exploration of alternative history. Also, many of the basque words that will be used weren't created until the 20th century (Lehendakari, as an example). However, I will be using them because the language did not have words equivalent to those in the game's age.

DISCLAIMER 2: I am using a modified version of HFM v1.27I. Also, I might use console commands to fix bugs and/or make the AAR more interesting.
First things first, an introduction. The Basques (Euskaldunak) are an ethnic group indigenous to northern Spain and southwestern France. The Basques have never been fully independent, and their region has always been divided between different powers - mainly Castile (later Spain) and France - although an independent Basque kingdom, did exist from the IX to the XV century (the Kingdom of Navarre), from then on being absorbed into the two already mentioned powers (Technically the kingdom did exist, as part of the crown of both Spain and France).

No relationship has been found between them and sorrounding populations, although a large degree of intermixing and cultural exchange has happened, especially in modern times. Still, even the basque language (euskara) is a language isolate, and it has been hypothesized that the Basques are what remains of the peoples that inhabited Europe previous to the Indo-European migrations starting at c. 4000 BC. This would make them one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) populations in modern Europe.
Even though not independent, the Basques maintained a large degree of autonomy and freedoms unseen in Europe until modern times, codified in the Fueros. This allowed them to maintain their own culture, enjoy many modern rights (Or closer than anything in that era), and develop a rich economy, even becoming Europe's (arguably) best transatlantic whalers, coming into contact with Newfoundland natives before the area was explored. These freedoms were mentioned and praised by America's Founding Father John Adams in his personal correspondence and in his 1787 book 'A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America'.

Pictured - the (old) Tree of Gernika (Gernikako Arbola in the basque language, euskara), symbol of Basque freedoms.
However, the Fueros began to be curtalied both in the Continental and Peninsular Basque Contry from the French Revolution onwards. French Basque civilians were displaced by the thousands mass deportations, with their property confiscated and the death of hundreds, and their administrative region was erased with the redrawing of French regions. The last nail in the coffin was the 'Act for the Abolition of the Basque Charters' by Spanish President Cánovas del Castillo in 1876 after the Third Carlist War.

This AAR's timeline diverges on the year 1808, with the signing of the Constitution of Bayonne, a constitution for the Napoleonic Kingdom of Spain. In our timeline, Domenique Joseph Garat, a basque (Labourdine) representative to the French States-General and National Assembly member, managed to impress Napoleon Bonaparte with his oratory. He proposed a plan to form a sister republic that included the Basque Country (New Phoenicia), although the plan was stalled by Napoleonic Wars and later dismissed.
New Phoenicia, the First Republic (1808 - 1813)

On this AAR's timeline, Garat manages to convince Napoleon of his project, and the Republic of New Phoenicia is founded on July 6th, 1808, with Garat as its first Lehendakari (President), and including all Basque territories.

This First Republic was short-lived, however, with it being abolished in 1813, with the end of the Peninsular War. Its territories were occupied by the British and Spanish armies, which did not recognize it as an independent state for the remaining of the Napoleonic Wars, and it was later dissolved and partitioned between the kingdoms of Spain and France.
Basque War of Independence. Proclamation of Vasconia, the Second Republic (1820 - ??)
The territories of the short lived New Phoenicia were under the control of Spain and France between 1814 until 1820, when Rafael del Riego (Pictured) led a pronunciamiento against Ferdinand VII, forcing him to accept the liberal Constitution of 1812. Not much later, civilians and soldiers alike revolted in the Spanish Basque Country, kindled by the nationalist spirit created by the First Republic. The Basque Republic of Vasconia (Rough translation of the Basque Euskal Herria) was proclaimed, with Domenique Joseph Garat, its founding father, again at its helm as its Lehendakari, and, although there were several attempts by the Spanish to retake those territories, they failed due to a combination of guerrilla tactics (the same used during the Spanish War of Independence) and the rough terrain of the coastal Basque Country. An uneasy truce was signed.

Later attempts to retake those lands were made by the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis, and, although occupied, they were unable to establish permanent control on the rebellious population. The Republic was recognized by Spain and France after British mediation in the Treaty of Bayonne (1824), and placed under the protection of the United Kingdom, much more accepting of the new, liberal ideas.
January 2nd, 1836
Three years after the death of Garat, elections are called in Vasconia. The Liberal Party has governed the Second Republic almost uninterrupted since its foundation. However, several scandals have rocked the Alderdi Abertzale Errepublikanoa (Nationalist Republican Party) in the last legislature and, along with a general change in the national politics, has tilted the scales towards the Conservative Party (Alderdi Jeltzalea).

There is no army to speak of, with defense of the nation falling on local militias, and outsourced to the United Kingdom, practically an overlord of the country.
Vasconia is a small nation, with a small adult male population of 138.10k, and a total population of 552.40k. Ethnic Basques comprise the majority of the population, although there is a large minority of Spaniards, too. Completely and devoutly Catholic, the Basques work mainly in the fields and mines of the land. 43.4% of the population is literate, a higher rate than its southern neighbours, and close to the French 48%.

The Republic is divided in two distinct provinces: The capital province of Bilbao, to the West, and Pamplona, to the East (Modern day Basque Country and Navarre in Spain).
The Basque economy is rural, mainly producing fruit and iron, with a small group of artisans producing an assortment of different goods. The Industrial Revolution is still to reach this small nation.
Thank you for reading this introduction to my AAR! Please, give me any ideas you might have on how we might steer this ship. Any suggestions are welcome, and I'll do my best to answer any doubts you may have.

Next chapter:

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