Vive la France! Vive la Reine!

While the abdication of the emperor and his flight might to many have meant a return to the republican system, the widespread elimination of the old political order in the conflict that saw the Emperor rise to power meant there also really wasn’t much of a republic to go back to. In that power vacuum the central government was mostly a weakened shell while on the regional level a mix of strongpersons and old rulers asserted dominance. Of course each of these little fiefdoms then engaged in their own wars to expand until only seven kingdoms were left, with the exception of Ile-de-France which through its status as a power centre and cultural capital was deemed neutral territory by all parties and as such left to govern itself.

By initial appearances one could be excused for ignoring the Kingdom of Acquitaine. Even now the Occitans weren’t truly considered French by the country at large and its leader was often dismissed. In the words of the King of Burgundy, the daughter of a whore and a deserter. Jeanne Thérèse Phénix was all of those things, but more importantly she was determined. Her life had been one of pain and struggle but it had made her stronger, from her humble beginnings she rose up through the city, then the province and now the Kingdom that dominated south-western France. She didn’t rely on existing networks or old house names, she built her own order and her own house. Carolingia, Plantagenet, Capet, Valois, Bourbon, Bonaparte, Orleans and now Phénix. She was going to reunify her country and rule over that unified Kingdom. Rallying behind her resolve, charisma and beauty many considered her the new Jeanne d’Arc, a woman chosen by God to defeat those who had destroyed the purest Kingdoms of all. One by one the Kings that had dismissed her, ridiculed her, humiliated her bent the knee. While conquest alone already made her Queen of France, the status was soon confirmed after the coronation following the conquest of Reims. Only a final barrier stood between Jeanne and the price she had worked so hard for. As her armies surrounded Paris, the city government had gotten used to self-rule and were reluctant to give it up. Things changed quickly when the first shots were exchanged and most of the city council fled, however not before leaving France in flames. With her country unified, her appointment made final by God and the will of the people behind her it was time to show the world France was one again. As she walked down the hallway to where her armies were waiting Jeanne could feel a certain excitement inside her. Her divine quest was complete, now she could embark on the next one. In front of multiple cameras which were to broadcast her address throughout the nation and world she could still be seen unchanged from the completion of the battle. She wanted the world to see that she was a fighter and that under her France would give no quarter.

“People of France! The humiliation is over! Through blood, sweat and tears our country is whole again. The crooks and charlatans that weakened the purity of our state have been put in their place and the entirety of the realm is once again governed from Paris. Throughout the war I have been assigned many names by my enemies. A bloodthirsty tyrant, a weak girl that should return to the kitchen, a witch sent by the devil to corrupt the men of France, the destroyer of the realm. All these men now serve me, were I those things I would have likely chosen to execute them here and now but what I want is a better France. A France that serves its people and a France that can stand against the foreign forces that have throughout history sought to restrict our greatness. My Kingdom will be one where each man, woman and child can walk the streets in peace, where the rule of law is enforced by a state and not a crime syndicate. A France that can defend its borders. A France that is once again a great power. The France of before the empire is no returning. The centralized republic is from an era long gone, this France needs to be ruled from the region. The seven kingdoms are a great model for this rule, while I will not tolerate any other King or Queen in this land I will welcome the Lords and Ladies Paramount to rule them. The Kingdom shall be led from Paris but it shall also be led from Nantes, and Marseilles, and the five other former capitals. Now the war is over we will rebuild what was lost and return stronger than ever before.”

Ever since the siege of Paris had been a success, things inside France had gone remarkably quiet. The Lord and Ladies Paramount were well on their way to administering their Kingdoms while Jeanne for her part focused on bringing prosperity to the Kingdom at large. Companies from all seven Kingdoms had been hired to rebuild Paris and in the ashes of the old city, a new one would rise. One grander than any other city in the world. A true jewel on that incredible crown of the world that is the French state. Beyond that the state was secure. The Italian border was guarded but realistically no real threat was expected there. The same applied to the Dutch and while Spain was a wildcard, they didn’t exactly seem capable of being troublemakers for now either.

News of the new German government and their pledge to gain revenge on France had however peaked the interest of Versailles. When the news was shortly followed by the arrest of Athenian nationals, many in the Kingdom had an uncomfortable feeling of déja vu. With that an emergency meeting of the Royal Council was called.

As Jeanne stepped into the conference room of the Palace that had served many Kings before her the Lords and Ladies inside stood up out of respect.

“Thank you my lords, my ladies. Please sit. What did the Krauts do now?”

It was the Lord Paramount of Burgundy, Robert of Lorraine and her Hand of the Queen who spoke first. “Your Majesty. In addition to prior statements of hostility towards our own state as well as the Dutch and the Poles, after Athens announced sanctions against them they have ordered the arrest of all Athenians inside Germany and allowed a mob to ransack their businesses and other property.”

Jeanne rubbed her forehead as she listened. “Even Hitler took more time than this to escalate” She commented as her adviser finished. “Lady Bonaparte, what is the state of my Army?” She asked of her Mistress of War.

“The Queen’s Army is tired, your Majesty. However the food and wine of Paris is proving quite the miracle drug. All 300,000 soldiers will be ready at your command. The armies of the Lords and Ladies paramount can be rallied at your command. Their total force at this point numbers 1 million and should need no more than a week to mobilize.” Danièle had been one of the first Bonapartes to switch sides to the Phénix Queen. For her loyalty she had been given the crown of her brother after the latter was decapitated for his refusal to bend the knee. She quickly turned out to be a much better ruler and an infinitely better commander than her brother had ever been.

“Very well. Dispatch messages to the Lords and Ladies Paramount that the Queen requires their services and soldiers. Send my Army to the German border region. Inform the Athenians that we will back them up in any engagement”