Kingdom of Aquitaine
Ruler - King
A newly established country around the city of Bordeaux, in the south-west of France looking out on the Bay of Biscay, bordering the Pyrenees and Spain. Ruled by a King -- previously Duke of the region -- the citizens of Aquitaine are still going through a rough transition. Although many seem reasonably welcoming to the change in leadership, having been ruled by the Duke through trying periods of their history, there are plenty who wish to see a unification with England and it's new King, Henry VIII.
Due to their sudden separation during a difficult period in the young English King's ascension to the throne, the new Kingdom's relationship with it's mother country is strained. Although there is plenty of ill-will from Henry towards his former Duke, there is little that can be done about the situation. Not when Aquitaine already have the favour of Spain, a significant member of the European trading circuit. However, England aren't the only ones out for the head of this ambitious Duke.
For a long time the French have been vying for the lands that the English had stolen from them, and although their revenge came with the reclaiming of several key ports in the north, they want to complete the process. Years of hatred has been festering between the pair, making it just a matter of when and why the French forces come to fight a bloody battle. With experienced military forces, veterans in the arts and ready enough to face their foes the Aquitaine army isn't one prepared to roll over.
Kingdom of France
Ruler - King Francis I
- Queen Claude
The citizens of France have been pushed around by all the powers that surround them, situated in the middle of ambitious countries desperate to acquire new, easy territory and deciding the French were easy pickings. Now they're fed up with it, and hope that a better future awaits them, one where their country can be united under the power of the crown and belong solely to them. They are a people who have lived through countless wars, one after another as their long roaming borders collide with countless others, and their fertile land only grows with value. There are few hardier people, or more willing to join the cause than the French, making them fearsome and relentless enemies focused on their goal.
On a mission to reclaim their country, the French have already evicted the English from their shores. For too long their estranged brother nation had controlled most of the northern coastline, creating extensive trade links with their many fortified ports. They provided a vital link to the mainland, and a solid foothold on the continent, but in a vicious and sweeping strike that was removed. Little love is lost between the two rivals, both still trying to establish themselves as main powers on the continent, while shaking away old troubles like rebellious regions. So much do they despise one another that the French actively help the Scottish, a constant thorn in the side of the English crown.
The recent victories have left them on a high, and with them in mind they turn their eyes collectively on Aquitaine. Other than the English this newly established nation is received with the most distaste. Since their separation from the English crown, the French believe them to be easy pickings now, despite their friendship with the Spanish. It is a rivalry that has been going through the motions for years, back and forth with Victory distributing her favour equally between the sides and leaving them at a stalemate.
Kingdom of Spain
Ruler - King Ferdinand II
- Queen Isabella I
Of all the European powers, Spain is the least set in militaristic ways. Their standing army has diminished considerably since uniting the peninsula, a victory that has since driven the nation forward to establish itself as a main economical power. The riches brought about by good trading and a flourishing economy has given rise to expensive spending, promotion of grandeur and comfortable, peaceful living. Although war is still a memory, slowly it's becoming more and more distant with the continued civility shown by other nations towards Spain. The influence and power gained by the exports they ship means that the Spanish have fair sway over the actions of smaller states dependent on them. It's a far cry from the poverty stricken Spain from before, but the unification of Castille and Aragon sparked a new generation and a galvinisation among the worn and beaten citizens.
Thanks to their expansive economy, Spain maintain amiable relations with most other factions, bar their Portuguese brethren to the west and the African factions across the straits. Both of these countries pose threats to the new Spanish unification, and skirmishes are a common occurrence. The Pyrenees to the north provide a natural border with France, and has helped the relations between the two countries as a recognisable end to each territory. There is however, plenty of friendly competition with some of the southern cities in France and the north-eastern ones in Spain, both providing similar products to the rest of the continent. Recently there had been an alliance in place between Spain and England, to be solidified with the marriage of the young Katherine of Aragon and the Prince of Wales, then Arthur. However, with the Prince's death the contract fell through, and Henry VII, the King at that time, lost interest. There is little dislike between the two countries despite this though, although Spain are openly defying England with their acceptance of Aquitaine as a separate country. It proves something that could strain relations between Spain and England, but currently King Henry VIII is unable to act since his position on the throne is yet to be accepted entirely.
The Spanish are a group of people on the rise, and they certainly know it. There are few who can match them at sea, and their expeditions are well known to everyone. Exploration is funded well by the crown, and above all other thrones the Spanish are the most willing to go out on a limb in search for new lands, the establishment of new trading posts and the discovery of faster shipping lanes. This is a country of commerce above all else, and their economic clout is often more devastating than any army could be. As such many are wary about crossing them, and are more willing to take a subtle approach to get what they want, or make do with what they have. At the moment, it seems like the known world will be in the grip of the Spanish.
Kingdom of England
Ruler - King Henry VIII
- Queen [none]
A country beginning to come into it's own, England has a position enviable by all in Europe. Set on an island to the north of France, with the raging seas of the north protecting them from any feeble invasion attempts, this is a country with a natural border like no other. However, years of internal fighting has hindered the development and influence of the country, leaving families scarred and manpower less than their continental neighbours. The Welsh continually pose a problem to every King, rising at every possible chance to try and throw off the yoke of their English neighbours. To the north is a similar threat, the Scottish. These fearsome warriors have seldom been conquered by anyone, even the Romans abandoned the attempt due to the cost of the endeavor. They are people who fiercely protect their freedom, and hold a strong dislike to their southern neighbours. Raids are commonplace, with the border towns often the only thing preventing further penetration. As if this wasn't enough, the Irish are of a similar breed. Hiring themselves out as mercenaries there are plenty of battlefields that have seen these rough, brutal fighters and despite the best efforts of several generations, the Kings of England have yet to conquer the island. Now, under the rule of Henry VIII they plan to end this.
Being an island country, England benefits from the difficulty of invading it. The last invasion was by William the Conqueror in 1066, with every following attempt failing to the harsh seas and troublesome sailing conditions. They have good access to the North Sea, Baltic Sea and the Atlantic, all profitable trading seas. With natural deep rivers such as London goods are easily transported throughout the land, however the potential has yet to be reached. They are a country destined to be rich, if only their other problems were addressed successfully and their energy correctly focused. Their years of war has managed to fashion an effective, experienced army however, with the famed Longbowmen the most recognisable part of their forces. English cavalry doesn't stand up against the famous French, but with steadfast infantry the English provide a worthy adversary.
The relationship between the English and the French is one of great hostility, with years and years of fighting between them dating back dozens of generations. Despite the English nobility's shared ancestry with those of the French, rivalry is high between the two countries with both trying to outdo the other in every area. Even the Royal families take part in this, keen to put on the better show whenever meeting one another. Hating one another has become something of a tradition for both sides. After the French the Kingdom of Aquitaine ranks highly on the enemy list. The King of England is keen to retake his lands in France, with those of Aquitaine some of the most profitable. It is certainly not a rivalry as ingrained as that with the French, but slowly it grows worse and worse, the gap between the two countries getting greater as years pass by. The Spanish prevent action, especially at such a delicate time in the English economy, and relations with the Iberians has been kept positive for this reason. With the Welsh, Scottish and Irish on their doorstep though, England are a country constantly looking over it's shoulder.
While most side with one of the larger powers of Europe, there are still that would choose to lay their loyalty at the feet of another. These are the men whose allegiances belong to one of the lesser European countries, or even those from Russia or the East. Depending upon the country they hail from, they can come as welcome additions to Western civilisation or as nuisances that many would seek to send back from whence they'd come. They tend to be considered strangers, foreigners whom many are wary of and sometimes for good reason.
There are always men of fortune drifting around in search of the next big thrill or money making scheme. Sometimes they align themselves with powerful men, or hope to grab some of the fame from talented ones, but one thing is for sure they are people of little loyalty to one cause. Not necessarily to be distrusted, this is a group that will, ultimately, be looking out for their best interests, and so long as they're the same as your own it is to be expected those of this caste will act accordingly. They encompass a wide variety of individuals, sometimes sticking to the law or bending it to fit their needs, they are usually masters of an art, jack-of-all trades or simply a charismatic individual. The possibilities are endless, and you never know what to expect, other than wherever these people go, something will be happening.