The Grand Duchy of Lamb's Cove and the Southern Plantations (commonly referred to as Lamb's Cove) is a constitutional monarchy with a long and sometimes convoluted history. Its origins can be traced back to a number of city-states on the eastern shores of Nova Vexillium that were founded centuries ago.
The Southern Plantations make up the more rural regions of the duchy, while the area surrounding the original Lamb's Cove contains the densest population and most of the nation's industry.
The Southern Plantations are the descendant of a loose alliance of seven "agri-nations" that were created approximately seven centuries ago. These plantations, as they came to be known, were originally trading groups formed by local farmers. As time went on, each of these groups developed more regulations and government. The seven original plantations were:
For the most part, the plantations each had democratic governments of varying forms throughout their history. For example, the farmers in Summis and Auburn elected boards of seven to 12 people to oversee major functions, while in Santoval, a single "lord" was chosen to handle day-to-day operations of the state, with plantation-wide congresses consisting of all landowners called when larger issues needed to be resolved.
Such primordial governments were effective in days when the population was small and interaction with other states was limited. But as trade began to develop, more structure was needed.
To handle exchanges between plantations, a seven-member "Plantation Congress" was established, with one representative from each plantation. At first, the congress members were chosen by the plantation government. But a trend started in Santoval when Lord Samuel Lee Norris decided to name himself to the congress. Santovians thought this was too much power in the hands of one man, and revolted.
Fearing for his life at the hands of an angry mob, Norris rescinded his self-appointment to congress and stepped down as lord. A special election was held, but with two posts on the ballot. Santovians chose a new lord, and also directly elected their Plantation Congress member.
Even though the other plantations had less centralized governments, the leaders realized the wisdom of direct election of congress members, and one by one followed suit.
Another aftereffect of the Norris incident was the establishment of a standardized form of government within each plantation. The elected boards, which had gone by varying names and were of different sizes, were replaced by "councils" of six members each, with a governor to preside and break tie votes. Lord James Castermink of Santoval voluntarily gave up his position so a council could be elected; he was immediately chosen as Santoval's first governor.
Although there was never any formal union of the plantations, the people (and to a lesser extent the governments) of the seven states started to consider themselves as one. That was prompted for the most part by shared common economic and social goals, and the fact that a single governmental entity in the form of the Plantation Congress was in place.
On the other side of the Aqual Hills, a different type of governmental evolution was occuring.
The area surrounding Lamb's Cove consisted of many small villages, which had a great deal of interaction and trade. Because of their size, none could be truly self-sufficient, so a variety of treaties and alliances were formed.
The largest of the villages, Covington, was a village only in name. Because of its prime coastal location, it had developed into a city. As a transportation hub, Covington started to dominate all inter-village trade.
Not surprisingly, this led to some abuse. The Burgher of Covington, Henry J. Castille, didn't like the idea that although goods were being sold in his city at an unbelieveable rate, the city was not reaping any of the benefit. That's because taxes were usually paid by the producer of goods in his or her home village.
Castille could not get other village leaders to agree to provide Covington a share of the taxes, so he did what he thought he had to do: he took over the other villages. Using a small band of forces (which in today's terms might be called half police, half military), Castille embarked on a reign of terror and brought village after village into his fold. The first few fought back valiantly but unsuccessfully, and later attacks met little resistance. Soon the entire coastal lowlands was under Castille's control.
Castille's ego grew as rapidly as his land-holdings did. The title of "burgher" was no longer suitable for a great ruler, he thought. So he proclaimed himself the "grand duke" of the land, and which he promptly called "Castillon."
Grand Duke Henry I and his descendants ruled Castillon for ore than 300 years. As is true in all monarchies, some of the grand dukes and duchesses were benevolent, some tyrannical. But during that time, Castillon started to fall behind other nations economically and socially.
Empoverished and having nothing to lose, the people of Castillon eventually tired of the autocracy. During the reign of Grand Duke Donald IV, a mob of nearly 200 men, women and children stormed the royal villa in Covington and executed the grand duke.
Led by some of the more outspoken residents, the people convened and drafted a constitution which formed a new government. Castillon would be run by a "chamber of elders," with representation based on population. For example, the smallest villages would get one elder in the chamber, while Covington had 12. There were a total of 30 elders in the original chamber.
The presiding officer of the chamber was a president, chosen by chamber members from petitions submitted by candidates and signed by the people.
The final step in the revolution was the renaming of the nation. In an attempt to diminish the aura of bloodshed that permeated the land, the public clamored for a "peaceful" name. The chamber settled on "Lamb's Cove," naming the region after the small bay that Covington sits on. (The cove, it is believed, was named centuries ago by early settlers who found flocks of sheep and lambs on the shore.)
Thirty years after the revolution, the grandson of Donald IV, who now went by the name of Thomas Evan Castille, filed a petition to become president. (He was a youngster during his grandfather's reign. In recent years, he had been a fairly successful shipping merchant.)
There was some debate among the elders. However, in the end, the view was to not cast the younger Castille with the sins of his ancestors. Recognizing Castille's economic prowess, the elders elected him president.
Castile served two terms as president, during which time the economy of Land's Cove prospered. Using his business acumen, Castille was able to negotiate trade agreements that allowed Lamb's Cove to act as the exporter for goods obtained from the Southern Plantations.
The chamber of elders, in a grand gesture of magnamity, recognized Castille's efforts and also the contributions of the nation's founders suggested restablishing the title of grand duke. A nationwide referendum was held, with a vast majority of Covians in favor. Castille became Thomas III, and would hold the office for life, although his duties as grand duke were the same as they were as president.
As trade between Lamb's Cove and the Southern Plantations increased, so did the sharing of infrastructure. Roads and utilities freely crossed the border.
Under the treaty agreements, all transactions between the two nations were overseen by the chairperson of the Plantation Congress (which rotated annually among the members) and the Grand Duke of Lamb's Cove. But as more activity developed, it became clear to officials on both sides that a more formal union was necessary.
Unification was favored by almost everyone in the plantations. There was a small but vocal opposition in the duchy, which feared the loss of autonomy and world standing.
When negotiations became protracted, officials on both sides of the border realized that international affairs were being neglected. Fearing that the disunity could be harmful to the future economy of the soon-to-be-merged nation, Christiana was asked to oversee the territory's international and diplomatic affairs.
One of the key points in the dispute was over what many thought was a trite matter the name of the combined nation. While that was being hammered out, Christiana designated the area as the Nordland Protectorate, since it was the northern land of the continent. A flag modeled after Christiana's flag flew over the duchy and the plantations for nearly two years.
(When Christiana's leadership was no longer needed, it was allowed to retain sovereignity over the Shepherd Islands as compensation and appreciation.)
Eventually, the matter of the name was resolved by a simple concession use both names. Since the people in the duchy were the most concerned, they were placated by placing "Lamb's Cove" first in the new nation's name.
The Plantation Congress and the Chamber of Elders were merged, with representation of some of the plantations increased to reflect the comparitive population with Lamb's Cove. There ultimately were 65 members in the new "Elder Congress."
The Grand Duke was named to preside over the entire government, with the title of "Grand Duke of the state of Lamb's Cove and Sovereign of the Southern Plantations."