The History of Elysia
This page details the history of Elysia (the former French colony on the planet Joi in the 61 Ursae Majoris system) up to the start of the Elysian Revolution in 2284AD. This will be expanded in due course to cover the period until 2303AD.
The early history of Elysia, prior to colonisation, is also the history of the ESA survey and therefore in common with all the other Joian colonies. A detailed history of the ESA survey of the 61 Ursae Majoris system and the planet Joi can be found on the System history page however a brief summary is also presented here.
61 Ursae Majoris was first surveyed in 2226 by a French survey vessel operating under the auspices of the ESA. The ESAS Argonaute surveyed the system and conducted remote fly-bys on all the planets while the ship herself remained in orbit above (the as yet unamed) Joi. During this time the planet was mapped and both remote and manned surveys of the atmosphere, oceans and landmasses were conducted. A long duration observation platform and a constellation of remote sensing satellites were left behind to collect data when the Argonaute departed.
The first elements of the ESA Joian Survey Team finally entered orbit in early 2233 and began analysing the seven years of accumulated data from the long duration observation platform. Once it was clear that no major geological (eg vulcanism or earth quakes) or atmospheric threats (eg hurricanes or other violent weather) to human habitation the construction of both an orbital terminal and planetside facilities (on the Isle de Madellaine in the straits between the Pays d'Esperance and the Pays de Verde) was begun.
The initial analysis of results was almost universally positive and the Survey was quickly upgraded to a full pre-colonisation status to reflect the value of the garden world. At this point the ESA nations filed claims under the Melbourne Accords to the main Joian continents. France initially claimed the Pays d'Esperance, Bavaria selected the Northern Pays de Verde while Britain and Azania jointly reserved the South Polar Continent. By the first quarter of 2234 Joi had effectively become the field station of several Universities Xeno Biology and Geology Departments and an area office of a number of other research organisations (eg IEX, Royal Society etc.).
As well as the Isle de Madellaine campus a number of outposts were also set up around the globe to facilitate local survey work, including one on an island off the northern coast of Elysia. The emphasis was on obtaining a basic understanding of the planet not an exhaustive documentation. As a consequence much of the data was collected and analysed automatically with only limited human oversight. As well as examining what already existed on Joi the survey also investigated the agricultural potential Terran crops (such as rice or grain) under Joian conditions and the possible uses the Joian flora and fauna discovered in the field.
By the end of 2237 the preliminary survey was complete. Agriculturally the picture was idea with both viable native crops and terran crops able to flourish with the minimum of additional measures. Indeed terran varieties would thrive at the expense of the natives (being immune to all the local pests and diseases and generally more vigorous) provided that appropriate fertilizers and supplements were provided annualy. Unfortunately the unusal nature of Joian geology (the geologically recent cessation of plate tectonics) had resulted in an absence of many technologically vital metal ores. Thus although Joi was a biological paradise it had very little potential as an industrial powerhouse, indeed it was likely to have difficulty supporting sufficient industry even to meet domestic consumption.
With the Pre-Colonisation survey complete the ESA facilities were gradually run down with all the out stations, including the one off the coast of Elysia, being mothballed. Meanwhile the national survey organisations with colonial claims began their own work to locate the sites for their colonies and examine the local conditions for threats and opportunities.
It was at this point that the French Colonial Administration considered pulling out of their commitment to Joi. The colony on Beta Canum was only one generation old, Kimanjano had been colonised just six years before and plans were already well advanced for settlements on both Alderhorst and Aurore. The colony on Nous Voila had already been relinquished to private (albeit still French) development. The problem was not so much the costs, the supply of shipping or the avalability of hardware but the lack of the relevant experts required to found a colony and sufficeint numbers of suitable, willing colonists. While the available personel could be spread more thinly this ran the risk of a disasterous failure in the event of any unforseen problems. Also distributing an unchanged number of colonists between more worlds would reduce the development rate of all the colonies (and therefore increase the time before they reached profitability) and decrease the efficiency of transportation arrangements.
The French Foreign Office however saw this as a great oppotunity. Already deep in trade negotiations with the Japanese, the Foreign Minister offered his Japanese counterpart the French claim to the Pays d'Esperance. The Japanese, eager for the interstellar prestige that a third colony would bring, quickly accepted and the decision was taken out of the Colonial Administration's hands. As a side note it is interesting that many commentators credit this transaction as one of the reasons that Japan finally intervened on the side of France in the Central Asian War forty five years later such was the Japanese sense of debt and obligation.
A Second Chance : The Elysian Crusade
There was great consternation in the Colonial Administration at this turn of events but in many ways it gave them a convenient way out of their dilemma (and, a bureaucratic necessity, someone else to blame). The matter did not end there however due to a strange combination of a monk and and an ambitious bureaucrat.
The monk was a member of the Order of Saint Theodora, a Catholic monastic order dedicated to repairing the damages wreaked upon the Earth by Humanity and balancing the needs of man and his environment. Brother Kallel was a member of the ESA survey team (on a sabatical from his post at the Universite de Nouvelle Provence Xeno-Biology Department) who had been assigned to the outpost station off the coast of Elysia. He had been inspired by the beauty of Joian life and despaired at its likely fate at the hands of the colonists. As his order was one that taught that man should work to further God's will, not meekly accept the Universe as it was, he resolved that he and the Order of Saint Theodora should act.
As Brother Kallel made his way back to Nouvelle Provence, following the run down of the ESA survey, he stopped at the Order's Monasteries and Houses along the way to spread his message of Joian salvation. By the time he reached his home on Tirane he had a growing number of supporters and transcipts and records of his impassioned preaching had passed beyond Tirane to Earth itself. The Brother's Elysian Crusade, as it was jokingly referred to within the Order, quickly gathered momentum. His proposal that the Order should found a colony of its own accord (rather than merely assist, or attempt to mitigate, the efforts of others) was a radical one to many of his Brothers and Sisters. Nevertheless his proposals struck a strong chord and, almost uniquely in the history of the Order since it spread amongst the stars, united the whole Order in a single cause.
The final outcome of Brother Kallel's efforts was that the Order of Saint Theodora agreeed to sponsor any of its followers who wished to emigrate to Elysia and provide support and assistance in setting up a colony. This aid would be provided on the basis that the colonists would follow the Order's principles of stewardship of all life, both Joian and Terran. Although the Order had considerable resources of both finance and expertise (primarily in the biological sciences) it was by no means capable of founding a colony under its own auspices (it owned no starships for a start). What was needed was a friendly nation that could provide the missing ingredients.
Fortunately for the Order the Deputy Secretary for Joian affairs at the French Colonial Administration was one Alain Valcroix who has seen his once promicing position (as the man in charge of a potentially major colonisation effort) reduced to that of a dead end backwater (the man in charge of relations with other nation's major colonisation efforts and transferring survey information to the Japanese). When Valcroix was discretely approached by representatives of the Order he saw the salvation of his career presented to him. France had the vessels and the support infrastructure, what had killed plans for the Pays d'Esperance colony was the lack of suitable experts and willing colonists - and the Order of Saint Theodora was offering to supply both of these.
The Order's environmental and activist credentials, coupled with its strong accademic traditions, meant that many of its religious and lay members were experts in the very fields required to found a colony (indeed the Order's members routinely joined IEX, and other exploratory organisations', expeditions). Many of the Order's Houses on the colony planets specialised in assisting their communities in coming to terms with their new worlds so there was also a great deal of experience in the day to day business of colonial development. The Order had also been at the centre of the Stewardship Movement (which aimed to balance humanity's needs with those of the rest of nature and to repair the damage done my man to his enviroment) in the early twenty first century. Although by the twenty third century the Order was no longer at the centre of things many still looked to it as a guide in following the stewardship ethics that the movement espoused. Thus there were a great number of people who had, for moral reasons, chosen not to partiipate in the colonisation of alien worlds (imposing humanity on yet more vulnerable eco systems). With the Order's backing however a colony founded on the principles of stewardship had the potential to attract large numbers of ideal colonists from the French Union and her close allies.
The agreement struck between Alain Vaicroix and Brother Kallel did not however set up a colony run by the Order under the French flag. The Order had neither the resources nor the desire to be a colonial power. The agreement (the Concordat d'Elysia as it became known) called for the order to provide a range of experts on secondment to IEX and the Colonial Administration to work on Joi and to encourage colonisation among its members and followers. In return the Colonial Administration would administer and support and colony in the normal way and in the event of an over subscription of colonists give priority to those nominated by the Order.
The combination of Alain Valcroix's internal support and the Order's external influence and lobbying soon made the impecable logic of partnership clear even to the French Republic's political elite. Consequently in 2238, less than one year after renouncing her claim to the Pays d'Esperance, France lodged notice of her intent to colonise the island continent of Elysia.
The Preparation of Elysia : 2239 to 2248
Once the decision to colonise had been made the preparatory work was quickly begun (much of the hardware had already been stockpiled on the assumption that the Pays d'Esperance colony would proceed). The core sections of an orbital terminal were quickly delivered, the Hanoverians having purchased the old ESA terminal to speed their colonial development. The ESA outstation on Elysia, located on an offshore island, was not deemed suitable as a base for the development of the continent, although it was retained as a reasearch facility. Instead a spaceplane runway and fuel cracking facilities as well as accomodation, suppport and scientific facilities were constructed on the mainland in the bay at the mouth of the River Lethe. The site was chosen with an eye to future expansion as the main entry port for colonists. The location had several advantages.
The construction engineers were quickly followed by a Colonial Administration / IEX team in 2239 (the latter principally staffed by Brothers and Sisters or lay members of the Order of Saint Theodora, including Brother Kallel). The team had three main, interdependant aims. To survey the island continent of Elysia and the surrounding waters both geologically and biologically, to develop crops and animals (either native or terran) suitable for agriculture and to plan and prepare for colonisation.
The survey was carried out in a similar manner to the global ESA survey, making use of remotely or computer controlled LTAs and rovers backed up by human teams where items of particular interest or difficulty were located. The development group (building on the survey findings) produced and planted experimental crops modifying existing high yielding Terran plants to adapt them to Joian conditions and native Joian flora to improve their yields. They also investigated the adaptability of Terran livestock to Joian feedstuff and the suitability of Joian fauna for domestication. The planning group combined the survey and development results with shipping timetables and the availability of supporting resources to plan the likely development of the colony. They also investigated and located local resources for use in construction and future development.
As the majority of the survey team were either members or followers of Order of Saint Theodora their work and plans unsurprisingly reflected the stewardship ethics of the Order. Thus all the genetic manipulation carried out on plants and animals followed the Beijing Protocol (only genes found within the same species could be transferred) while the development projections and raw materials location emphasised the sustainable management of resources. There was no written policy that required these measures it was simply the normal way for those doing the job to work.
As a consequence of this predisposition the French colony rejected the intensive agricultural techniques later adopted by the Japanese and Azanian colonies. Instead a combination of Terran and Joian plants and Terran livestock was developed which, although less efficient than the intensive methods, was significantly more sustainable and less reliant on off world support.
In parallel with the survey work construction of facilities necessary to handle the future flow of colonists was also undertaken. These included
As the facilities grew so did the local population. While some of the support staff were only on temporary postings many had also accepted generous financial incentives and agreed to become colonists. Thus by the end of the pre-colonisation period the proto-colony's population had reached nearly 100,000 and the survey base had become the city of Esperance.
During French Rule : 2248 to 2291
The Esperance Colony : 2248 to 2277
The colonisation effort on Elysia was initially concentrated on the area around the city of Esperance where the main survey base and spaceport were situated. Esperance was sited on Elysia's northern coast in the bay at the mouth of the River Lethe giving good access to both the coast and Elysia's most extensive river system.
Central facilities such as colonial administration, hospitals and a fledgling university, were located in the newly founded city (and colonial capital) and, although Elysia was primarily an agricultural colony, limited indsutrial facilities (mainly aimed at supporting agriculture) were also constructed in and around Esperance. These latter were mainly low production but highly flexible manufacturing facilities, known as petite usine or PU (Fr little factory), with a high degree of automation.
With the arrival of 25,000 colonists a year the colony quickly grew in the form of an expanding Esperance, increasing cultivation of the land around the city and the founding of towns and villages along the banks of the River Lethe. The colonisation process followed the Stewardship principles of its planners with the impact on the native biosphere minimised where possible.
The most noticeable results of these policies were the unique way in which Elysia's natural resources (in terms of minerals, flora and fauna) were exploited.
The Elysian's had at their disposal a continent the size of Earth's Australia but with little or no ground transportation infrastructure. Detailed satellite survey information (low orbit visual, radar and spectroscopic analysis) however allowed the real-time, accurate location of animal, vegetable and mineral resources with very little effort. When this information was coupled with easy access to all locations via LTA transportation and modern communication systems then resources could be "hunted" down and then "gathered" in rather than "farmed" in the traditional manner. Such "hunter/gatherer" extraction operations were regulated through management licences which permitted the holder to extract the specified resource in a sustainable manner in a given area for a fixed period.
A by-product of this process, which caused some controversy at the time, was that the French Colonial Ministry quickly claimed that large portions of the Elysian continent were under production. Under the Melbourne Accords this effectivly prevented any other nation from making colonial claims to any part of Elysia. While no such claim was under consideration it was felt that a dangerous precident was being set. In the event no formal challenge was mounted and as Elysian methods have not been copied elsewhere the matter is no longer as controversial.
The only pause in the expansion was in 2258 when a Japanese starship badly damaged the orbital terminal following a stutterwarp malfunction. While the terminal was under repair French colonists had to use the Hannoverian terminal which reduced the immigration rate for three years. Despite this setback however the colony continued to prosper and by 2262 the total population exceeded one million.
In early 2270 the French Colonial Ministry completed its second ten yearly review of Elysia's colonial development which had two major impacts on Elysia. The first, and most immediate, was that it recommended the granting of independence in domestic matters and the creation of a Colonial Assembly. The second was that it recommended a return to the traditional French development model. While it was acknowledged that the Stewardship model had served Elysia well the costs to France of following two unrelated development strategies could no longer be justified.
In 2271 Elysia was duly granted its Dependency Charter by the French Parliament. The following year elections were held for the single chamber legislature. The election was contested by three loose groupings, Elysian politics having failed to develop traditional political parties by this stage. The three groups were primarliy differentiated by their attitude to the future development of the colony. The largest grouping (with 40% of the seats) favoured the continuation of the existing Stewardship influenced policies while their nearest rivals (35%) favoured a more traditional French approach with greater industrialisation and more intensive agriculture. The third significant grouping (10%) were those desiring an end to any further development in order to protect the native Elysian biosphere. The remaining 15% of representatives were independents with a wide range of views. Madame Fawziyah ash-Shalabi became Elysia's first First Minister at the head of a broad coalition primarily, but not exclusively, drawn from the largest two groups.
The results of the first conclusion (the Colonial Assembly) however meant that the changes implied by the second (change in development policy) were more difficult to implement. The Colonial Assembly's governing coalition was ideologically opposed to any changes in development policy and opposed the Colonial Office's attempts to change at every turn. Taken aback by the beneficiaries continued resistance to their generosity the Colonial Ministry decided to review their position.
The Ministry's review identifed several additional factors, in addition to the need to standardise their development policies,
The solution to the Ministry's dilemma was to develop a second colonial hub on Elysia. Although at first site this was a rather radical response it had a number of advantages that persuaded the Minstry's political masters to agree.
In 2273 the Ministry began to plan a second colonial hub around a small fishing port in Southern Elysia. Bonne Chance was, like Esperance, at the mouth of a significant river system (albeit much less extensive than the Lethe and it's tributaries) giving ready access to the interior. It's position on the north eastern coast, roughly 3,000 km east south east of Esperance, was a good compromise giving reasonble travel times back to Esperance while limiting the overlap of coastal exploitation. Preparatory work began in 2275 with the construction of port and interface facilities at Bonne Chance and by 2277 the first new colonists were beginning their lives in Southern Elysia.
The Dual Colony : 2278 to 2284
Although the Elysian colony in this period had two very distinct hubs there was considerable contact between them, both in terms of trade and people. The established, but limited, industry around Esperance was geared up to provide construction and agricultural supplies for new colonists and it continued to do so - albeit at a greater distance. There was also a significant exchange of people as colonists prefering the development policies of the other hub moved to take advantage of them. Indeed direct immigration into the Esperance area never ceased it was simply gradually reduced to roughtly 10% of the total as the facilities in and around Bonne Chance were expanded.
As the Colonial Ministry had planned the new hub was under the direct control of Governor Margarite AlLaham. Consequently the Governor's Office, set up to manage an agricultural colony, became responsible for a substantial industrial investment programme. The unusual combination of an existing colony and a change in a development policy meant that many of the Colonial Ministry's standard financial management controls were never properly implemented. Indeed both the Governor's Office and the Elysian Department in the Colonial Ministry were significantly under resourced for the level of investment being managed.
Subsequent investigations, in the aftermath of the Elysian revolt, revealed that the continuation of this apparent oversight was in fact a part of a conspiracy between a number of middle ranking officials and several major industrial concerns eager for colonial development contracts. It is still not clear whether the conspiracy deliberately brought about this state of affairs or if it merely took advantage of them. Whatever the situation's origin senior members of the Elysian Colonial government, their supervisors in the Colonial Ministry on Earth and a number of French companies exploited it to the full.
The companies were awarded development contracts at inflated prices while the officials obtained lucrative directorships and consultancies following their retirement from government service. Although the tendering process may have been corrupt the developments did go ahead and were, for the most part successful. Bonne Chance for instance developed a very successful industrial park centred around the fusion power plant constructed, on a modular basis, between 2278 and 2283. It is an interesting footnote that Governor AlLaham received a very lucrative position on the board of Forge des Etoiles the suppliers of the station shortly after her retirement in 2281.
Despite the changes in development policy, but at least partially due to the corruption of the process, Elysian agriculture - already surpassed by the Japanese - was soon in danger of being pushed into third place by the newly founded Azanian colony. The colony's third ten year review, completed in 2280, concluded that unless the whole of Elysian agriculture were converted to the intensive terran model used by Tosashimizu and Lubumbashi the lucrative export market to New Cornwall would be jeopardised. Over the next few years the Ministry began planning the conversion of the Esperance area agriculture to the model pioneered around Bonne Chance. This work was eagerly supported by the Elysian Governor's Office, both by the honest and corrupt officials. The former thought that the developments around Bonne Chance were proceeding well and were dismissive of the "old ways" prevalent around Esperance. The latter were eager for more lucrative development contracts that additional investment would bring.
In 2283 the Colonial Ministry's proposals were put to the Colonial Assembly by the Governor. The Colonial Assembly was into its third five year term after elections held in 2281. The dual colony approach favoured by the Ministry however had meant that rather than strengthening their support in the Assembly they had effectively reduced it. Colonists preferring the Stewardship approach tended to favour the Esperance area, which had self governance and elected the Assembly Members, while those supporting traditional French development methods emigrated to the non-voting Bonne Chance area. By 2282 55% of Assembly Members (Membre de la Assemble Colonial d'Elysia - usually abbreviated as MA) supported the Bloque Verte (Fr : Green Block) which promoted the continuation of Stewardship policies. 30% of the MA could be relied on to support the Bloque Bleu (Fr : Blue Block - named for Guillaume Bleu one of its main spokesmen with a media friendly colour coded name) favouring traditional French policies with the remaining 15% independent. It should be noted that during the later 2270s and early 2280s Elysian politics were not dominated by the development issue and that the two Bloques crossed the boundaries of the various political parties, coalitions, governments etc.
It was no surprise therefore, to well informed commentators at any rate, that the Governor's announcement of the Ministry's change in policy was not greeted with universal acclamation. The Colonial Ministry however was surprised by the Assembly's immediate and unremitting resistance to their plans. They had assumed, and the Governor had failed to correct that assumption, that the colonists would welcome the additional investment in the colony. Many of the colonists however had chosen Elysia specifically for the stewardship ethos of its development and were not about to change the beliefs, that they had moved from Earth to follow. As reflected by their MAs by no means all the colonists in Northern Elysia were supporters of the Vertes and even amongst those supporters the degree of support varied from sympathy to fanaticism. The strongest and most deeply held belief tended to be found in the countryside and smaller towns and villages while the larger towns were much more evenly divided. In Esperance itself there was in fact a small Bleu majority.
With the one colony, two development policies, approach no longer sustainable the Ministry instructed the new Governor (Alain Petit, appointed in 2281) to overrule the Assembly and implement the new agricultural policies in the Esperance area. Despite generous subsidies and investment grants and tax breaks for French Agricultural Groups the Esperance area proved surprisingly resistant to change. The French Agricultural sector was discouraged from investing (even in view of the incentives on offer) in the face of resistance and obstruction from the Colonial Assembly.
In order to overcome the intransigence of the Assembly a bill was hastily pushed through the French Parliament to extend the Dependency Charter to the whole of Elysia, thereby reuniting the two halves of the colony under a single Colonial Assembly. The bill, rather unusually, also called for immediate elections in the newly enfranchised areas to allow the new MAs to join the existing Assembly (albeit for an initial three rather than a five year term). In 2284 elections were duly held in the Bonne Chance area and the additional MAs joined the Assembly in Esperance. The new MAs were, unsurprisingly, almost all supporters of the Bleus and their arrival changed the balance of power in the Assembly (commonly known as "Petit's Parliament") changing the governing coalition and producing a small majority for the Bleus.
Elysian Revolution : 2284 to 2291
To be completed.
The published information regarding Elysia, from the 2300AD Adventurer's Guide, Director's Guide, Star Cruiser, Colonial Atlas and Invasion Sourcebook, is summarised below (based on KevinC'S distillation of the 2300AD timeline).
My main difficulty with the published history was that after only 42 years a colony could successfully revolt against it's parent nation and not immediately become a client of another power. Only slightly behind this was what could possibly provoke the colonists sufficiently to cause them to want to revolt in the first place, and fight a six year war in order to gain their freedom?
My attempt to resolve these difficulties was to resort to religion. I invoked the Order of Saint Theodora to provide reasons for the development of a reasonably self sufficient ecomonic structure (see Economic Development) and an underlying moral reason for the revolt.
I have also attempted to keep Elysian history consistent with other information on the web particularly Dan Hebditch's article on the Elysian Defence Forces, his, Bryn Monnery and Laurent Esmiol's Verdun Landing Ship article and my Escadre d'Interface article - all of which can be found on the Etranger Site.
Copyright J.M. Pearson, 2009