By Brycen Harvey, Historian, University of Syvasti
Barboneia was founded by Finnish-Swedish settlers, led by Felix Barbone, in 1739 as New Gothenburg, a Swedish crown holding, on a large lake somewhere in the central north-western area of the region they would later find out was named Valkia.
A native group to the region settled by the scouting party, the Cerillians (called so for their written language being similar to Russian cyrillic and because the local documenter ironically had poor penmanship and misspelled “cyrillic”), were discovered by the settlers. Their society was eerily similar to that of the Iron Age Finnic people in Europe. Evidence suggests that they had few interactions with the more “civilized” peoples in surrounding, established countries, such as the North Landers to the west (who probably hunted and ate them in the past) and the Darussalami to the south. After some unfortunate miscommunications they ended up wholly slaughtered and few traces of them exist in the country today, save for the few excavation sites that turn up when someone attempts to build a new parking lot or something. Of course, the colonial leaders denied ever encountering any native groups. This didn’t stop them from having deliberately written down, in detail, how they interacted with them.
Felix Barbone, the leader of the settlers, tragically led a scouting party unknowingly into the North Lands to the west of New Gothenburg in an attempt to find a new landing point for Swedish supply ships, which to this point basically had to circumnavigate most of Valkia to get supplies to the fledgling colony. Having a landing point in the north wouldn’t work very well, as the poor caravans would need to travel through what were essentially Arctic conditions, so it was figured that getting a point set up on the far western coast would be the best bet.
Unfortunately, the entire group, save Felix, were slaughtered and devoured by the native North Landers. How Felix Barbone survived is unknown, though it’s suspected that he had persuaded the North Landers to spare him with his rather notable rugged charm and good looks (he’s also suspected of having some “relations” with some North Landers, some of which he probably did not consent to).
Despite some deadly setbacks and general madness seemingly inherent to the area, New Gothenburg gained independence in 1742 during the Russo-Swedish Wars when the Leading Council (composed of founder Felix Barbone and other notable merchants and figures) paid off important members of the Russian Empire to send troops to forcefully expel the existing and weak willed Swedish garrison in the country. Sweden did not have the manpower or any real reason to re-establish control of the colony, even after the war had ended, so they ignored the newly independent nation.
New Gothenburg continued to be ruled by the Leading Council for the remainder of the 1700s. With the well funded “militia” (now more of an acting exploratory military), it expanded its borders to its modern ones in the decades that passed (wisely avoiding expanding into the North Lands. A lot of settlers died in this area of the new country, and people living on the western border still turn up mysteriously missing even today). The country was rather poorly controlled and organized during these years, with most wealth coming from trading with neighboring nations and mining that became prevalent in the north. Of course, the only people who really became rich were the Leading Council members and those close to them.
Following the death of Felix Barbone in 1799, the Leading Council elected to rename the country “Barboneia” in his honor. The following year, the entire Council was executed in a coup d'etat led by Klemetti Mattila, the leader of the newly named and reorganized Barboneian Army. He was nice enough to keep the country named Barboneia, though, out of respect for Felix who had grown a notable reputation by this point.
Ironically, the newly created military junta managed to lead the country much better than the previous government. Under Chancellor Klemetti, infrastructure was improved, the lower classes were better treated and respected by the government, and the quality of life generally increased throughout the country. However, a heavy restructuring of the military occurred, and generally took a more aggressive stance in foreign policies and relations. These were mostly empty threats backed up by some xenophobia commonly expressed throughout the country. Needless to say, immigration policies were strictly enforced during this time, though mostly towards people entering the country rather than leaving it.
In any case, the 1800s saw much progress and advancement in Barboneia, both socially and industrially. Trains saw widespread usage, linking the country together, and helping to increase trade to its neighbors despite otherwise rocky relations. Women continued to gain equal rights, as did minority populations. The army continually modernized but saw little use. However, it is known that parts of the army were outsourced sort of as “mercenaries” to other countries, a practice which inspired the creation of the Extra Territorial Group private military company. Another practice that continues is the universal conscription affecting Barboneian men aged 18 to 21, requiring them to serve at least half a year in the armed forces unless they’re in college or have any other excuse to get out of serving the country. This was devised in case of an imminent invasion of the country, so that every man would be able to defend it from the typically much larger neighbors, but as of this writing no such invasion has occurred, though the conscription remains enforced by the modern government, albeit quite lax.
In 1874, the second Chancellor of the country, Samu Räsänen, was shot dead during a speech in Talecton by pro-democratic revolutionaries who were inspired by the successful revolutions of the Americans and the French. What followed was a rather pathetically brief civil war that ended with the military siding with the democrats and overthrowing the few remaining loyalist soldiers of the Chancellery Council. With a successful end to the civil war, the new government was restructured to follow that of the rest-of-the-world western democracies like the United States and England. A presidential republic was formed and all seemed well.
The early 20th century marked more progress in Barboneia, as inventions like the automobile, widespread electricity, and sliced bread became increasingly common throughout the mostly backwater pseudo-Scandinavian nation state. However, political change was also a new mark of progress that occured in the country. The government once again restructured. Inspired by socialist teachings and writers like Karl Marx and Trotsky, the president who led the restructuring, Heinrich Pullo, formed the country into a Commonwealth in an effort to make the it more Socialist and serving of the people.
Of course, this didn’t work out as well as he had hoped when new political parties formed that directly opposed socialism, like the socially and fiscally conservative Barboneian Party and the Centrist Party, which doesn’t really have any strong opinions on anything. These parties subtly caused changes to the government over the years, though the country hasn’t changed much from being relatively left-wing and socialist. In any case, despite the increasingly prevalent layer of underlying corruption present in the government, the Commonwealth system has worked quite well for the country, making it even wealthier and more influential throughout the region.
Barboneia joined the United Nations in 1948 in an attempt to get more international recognition, because until this point barely anyone outside of Valkia and some parts of Europe even knew the country existed. This also marked the point when Barboneia would first be involved in any major military conflicts (they had not participated in the Second World War for obvious reasons), but these were mostly reduced to peacekeeping activities. Barboneian troops, for example, were sent to help UN forces in Korea during the conflict there. They were noted for being pretty competent despite the generally poor equipment they had at the time.
Nothing very interesting happened in Barboneia during the rest of the 20th century, in any case. The economy substantially continued to improve as time went on, however, and the country modernized rapidly whenever a new innovation was introduced outside of Valkia, such as nuclear weaponry and color television and such. One thing notable, however, was the Extra Territorial Group beginning more operations throughout Valkia with particularly satisfying results.
The 1990s ended up being pretty tumultuous in Barboneia, despite the rest of the century being rather boring. The country withdrew itself from the United Nations when it was asked to confirm suspicions of it having stolen several important military documents and blueprints from Russia during the confusion that resulted with the collapse of the USSR. (hilariously enough, despite this, Barboneia continues to have a rather good relationship with the Russian Federation).
For some reason, Barboneia in modern times has been stuck, aesthetically, in the 1990s. Technology such as computers and cell phones take on the appearances they had during this decade, as do automobiles and architecture among others. Fashion is also mostly stuck to what was worn in Europe during this time, especially among the inner city youth populations. Despite the generally dour demeanors of most Barboneians, they certainly wear cheerful clothing. In any case, Barboneia in the 21st century is relatively advanced, akin to most modern Scandinavian countries.
Modern Barboneia has seen a marked inclination towards left wing and centrist policies in the government, with every prime minister since 1996 being considered one of the two. The country retains rather tepid relations with the surrounding nations of Valkia, though it still relies heavily on importation for food and other products and otherwise does not really make xenophobic threats anymore. Generally, the people of Barboneia have been becoming increasingly more liberal and accepting in recent year, and this has, so far, been a good thing.
It is currently unknown what the future holds for the Commonwealth, but it certainly is looking bright.