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The Matilia Reformation of 1790

The Stormridge Times

The Matilia Reformation: The Birth of a Modern Picairnian State

As the French Revolution shook Europe to its core, the Emperor announced radical reforms for the country.

The Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789. (Unidentified painter)
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By John Roberts

History | Published November 12, 2020

STORMRIDGE - On this day 230 years ago in history, our Emperor Gaius Matilia (Matilia III) promulgated sweeping reforms that would fundamentally change the socio-economic and political situation of Picairn. His legacy and its impact to our nation today are still being hotly debated among political experts, economists and politicians.

Just one year before, the French people shocked the world by openly revolting against the Bourbon monarchy, storming the Bastille prison - the symbol of political suppression in France, and finally declaring the end of feudalism by passing the radical Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, all within the span of three months. The initial reactions in Britain and the US were positive: Many Britons and Americans viewed the Revolution as a popular uprising against the tyrannical French monarchy.

"How much the greatest event that ever happened, and how much the best." - said then-leader of the Whig opposition in Britain, Charles Fox upon hearing the news about the storming of Bastille. Likewise, the London Chronicle proclaimed "In every province of this great kingdom the flame of liberty has burst forth," but also warned that "before they have accomplished their end, France will be deluged with blood." The British aristocracy, however, were nervous and strongly opposed the violent Revolution.

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In Picairn, the situation was almost the same: The commons wholeheartedly supported and sympathized with the principle and ideals of the revolutionaries, while the aristocracy was incredibly hostile to them. A poll conducted by the Times in September 1790 found that 73% of Picairn's citizens were unhappy with the then-current absolute monarchy. "I think the French was tired of their monarch's oppressive rule, so naturally they took up arms and overthrew him", said one of Picairn's politically astute citizens in conversation with one of The Times' journalists before the promulgation. "Have you seen the streets lately? I believe a revolution is brewing here too." He said while looking at the protesters, who had gathered outside the Summer Palace to raise their demands for human rights and democracy. After saying so ominously, he vanished into the alleys before a rich aristocrat showed up.

"Those French revolutionaries don't know what they have done! Within months, they have caused widespread disorder and destruction across France. What they will accomplish will only be more deaths and devastation! While their King was oppressive, no doubt, violent revolution was never an option. We aristocrats have rights too, you know, and we are open to reforms. Yes, we violently shot down peaceful protests calling for workers' rights and stronger response to foreign encroachment last year. But um, uh, can't you see it would massively decrease our power, even though the country is burning around us???"

"Oh shut up, you bloodsuckers!" yelled one of the protesters in the crowd. "Far too long we have suffered under the oppression of the aristocrats in the country. We worked hard just to let you take our hard-earned money and poured them into luxurious hobbies! You forced us to work in the factories under terrible conditions and long hours. Many good people have died because of your greed! Yet in the face of British imperialists, you were completely powerless to stop them from violating our shores and sinking our merchant ships! Surely our magnanimous and wise Emperor has noticed how dissatisfied the people are with how our country is being ruled? We want reforms now! That's the only way to prevent bloodshed in Stormridge." At this point, the crowd has surrounded the aristocrat, but he successfully escaped by fleeing into one of the dark alleys.

Nonetheless, the hostility between the commons and the aristocracy was reaching a boiling point, and may even have burst into riots, had the Emperor and his Council not handled it excellently. By adopting Western liberal ideas and modern technology, the Emperor not only saved Picairn, but also paved the way for it to become a superpower.

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Amidst growing discontent towards the aristocracy, on November 12, 1790 the Emperor first addressed the people's urgent needs for reformation and laid out his visions of a new society. Famously dubbed "The Charter Oath", the speech is a set of aims and actions for the construction of a new government, setting the legal stage for Picairn's modernization. The text of the Oath consists of five clauses:

"By this oath, we set up as our aim the establishment of the national wealth on a broad basis and the framing of a constitution and laws.

1. Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by open discussion.
2. All classes, high and low, shall be united in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state.
3. The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall all be allowed to pursue their own calling so that there may be no discontent.
4. Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature.
5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of imperial rule."

The balcony where Emperor Matilia III declared a new era for Picairn.

The first action of the Emperor was to create a new Constitution for Picairn, detailing clearly and succinctly the people's enumerated rights as well as their role in government. In 1792 the first Constitution was ratified and the newly-created Parliament convened the same year. Never before has the Picairnian people enjoyed such civil rights and political freedom under the old absolute rule. All feudal class privileges were abolished as well.

The administrative reorganization had been largely completed by 1795, when the old domains were officially abolished and replaced with new provincial system that has remained in place to the present day. Also in 1795 a national army was formed, which was further strengthened two years later by a universal conscription law with new training and tactics closely modeled after European countries. In addition, the new government carried out policies to unify the monetary and tax systems, with the agricultural tax reform of 1796 providing its primary source of revenue. Another reform was the introduction of universal education in the country in 1797, which initially put emphasis on Western learning.

Economic and social changes paralleled the political transformation of the Matilia period. Although the economy still depended on agriculture, industrialization was the primary goal of the government, which directed the development of strategic industries, transportation, and communications. The first railroad was built in 1812, and by 1890 the country had more than 5,900 miles (9,500 km) of rail. Telegraph lines linked all major cities by 1880. Private firms were also encouraged by government financial support and aided by the institution of a European-style banking system in 1882. Those efforts at modernization required Western science and technology, and under the banner of “Civilization and Enlightenment”, Western culture, from current intellectual trends to clothing and architecture, was widely promoted.

By the early 20th century, the goals of the Matilia Reformation had been largely accomplished. Picairn was well on its way to becoming a modern industrialized country. The unequal treaties that had granted foreign powers judicial and economic privileges through extraterritoriality were revised in 1893, and with the Anglo-Picairnian Alliance of 1902 and its victory in the Spanish-American War on American side, Picairn gained respect in the eyes of the Western world, appearing for the first time on the international scene as a major world power. The death of the emperor Matilia III in 1913 marked the end of the period.

John Roberts is a historian. He is an honored member of the Royal Historical Society of Picairn and the author of several best-selling books: The Matilia Reformation, The Societal Upheaval in Picairn Post-WWII, Picairn's Transformation in the 80s, and more. He is the current manager of the Stormridge Times' History section. @johnroberts | Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on November 12, 2020, Section A, Page 5 of the Stormridge edition with the headline: How the Matilia Reformation changed Picairn forever. Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe

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The Coronavirus Outbreak >

Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

Updated April 11, 2020

What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

When will this end?
This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In a Picairnian Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gotffried, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

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The Times Neediest Cases Fund has started a special campaign to help those who have been affected, which accepts donations here. Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the Picairnian Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities. More than 30,000 coronavirus-related GoFundMe fund-raisers have started in the past few weeks. (The sheer number of fund-raisers means more of them are likely to fail to meet their goal, though.)

Should I wear a mask?
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Picairnians wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in national guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

How do I get tested?
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.

How does coronavirus spread?
It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

Is there a vaccine yet?
No. Clinical trials are underway in Picairn, the United States, China and Europe. But Picairnian officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.

What makes this outbreak so different?
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

What if somebody in my family gets sick?
If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

Should I stock up on groceries?
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Can I go to the park?
Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.

Should I pull my money from the markets?
That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.

What should I do with my 401(k)?
Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions — don’t! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you’re at least saving as much as you can to get that “free money.”

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