A history of New Mittelheim

New Mittelheim comprises those lands carved out (though one might more properly use the term 'thieved while no one was looking') of the vast expanse of North America. The tale of the Mittelheim colonisation of these lands is a long and difficult one. Heroism; enterprise; loyalty in adversity; bitter struggles against superior odds; long wars against against a savage, immoral, uncivilised enemy - all of these things could characterise native attempts to hold off the forces of Mittelheim. By degrees, however, the local tribes were either pushed back through force of arms, or co-opted through alliance and then slaughtered during the celebrations. Four small colonies now cling precariously to the coast: New Pfeildorf, owned by the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel; Falconia, named in honour of Burgrave Falco of Nabstria; Fort Pippin, outpost of the Empire of Grand Fenwick; and finally, New Athens, not unnaturally ruled by Choldwig, Landgrave of Hesse-Rotenburg (though in actuality Rotenburg rule in New Mittelheim does involve a plethora of unnatural acts).

The colonies of New Mittelheim were first established in 1732, a few months after the creation of the British colony of Georgia. These two events were linked by more than chance. Present at the former were two citizens of the Landgravate of Rotenburg, Andreas von Baerbaum and Maximillian Karl Schnoekuhn. Both had fled from Mittelheim two years earlier having been convicted of defrauding the Rotenburg state of thousands of schillings worth of duties on imported nasal hair. Disguising themselves as a pair of Rotenburgers who had defrauded the Landgravate of thousands of schillings worth of duties on imported nasal hair, both managed to take ship at Muntersheim to the British colony of Virginia. As it turned out, however, Virginia did not suit either of the Mittelheimers: the winters were too cold; the atmosphere too English; the application of the law too stringent; and the local women too alert to attract either of them to make it their permanent residence.

In 1731, a solution seemed to present itself. A royal charter was signed for the creation, further to the south, of a new English colony, to be named Georgia. This new colony was to provide, so it was said, a haven for debtors, prospective settlers to be given  remission of debt and a small plot of land to farm. Amongst the first to sign up for this new opportunity, Baerbaum and Schnoekuhn were soon on their way to Savannah. Sadly, they soon found that they did not fit in there especially well: alcohol was banned, as was slavery, which removed both of their main forms of entertainment; also frowned upon, apparently, were dropping one's britches in front of old ladies, vomiting in churches, and propositioning geese, which removed most of their hobbies as well. Having terrified one old lady too many, the pair were forced to take ship post-haste to avoid what, if they were lucky, would just be a lynching but which, if the whole truth got out, might also turn into a more detailed physical examination with something hot and sharp.

The pair had intended to head for Florida, because, being a Spanish territory, almost any indecency there was tolerated, as long as it was accompanied by tapas. Their voyage, however, was insupportable, and, tired of being bullied by ships' rats, Baerbaum and Schnoekuhn demanded to be put ashore. The unpromising coast upon which they arrived, somewhere to the south of Georgia and to the north of Florida, proved to be the gateway to new land of opportunity. The pair soon made contact with the local natives and, pestilent, cannibalistic, ungodly, unwashed savages though the Rotenbergers were, Baerbaum and Schnoekuhn nevertheless were welcomed. Baerbaum, indeed, soon married the chief's daughter, Pokemontas. Of course, this friendliness on the part of the Native Americans was on their part a terrible, terrible mistake. Whilst early English settlers in America had devastated their local adversaries through the underhand stratagem of passing to them diseased blankets, the appalling consequences of this were as nothing compared to the arrival in this place of the two Rotenbergers. Like most Mittelheimers, Baerbaum and Schnoekuhn stayed moderately healthy only because the parasites and diseases that permeated their pasty, wrinkled bodies tended to be so virulent that they killed one another before they killed their hosts. Lacking such defences, the natives soon succumbed: chief Dances-With-Wolves-Badly-Because-They-Bite quickly became chief Runs-Like-a-River and then chief Croaked-in-the-Night. Before long, the coastal area was uninhabited except for the Mittelheimers. Tiring of their own company after twenty minutes or so, and sensing an opportunity for reward, the two sent messages describing their good fortune back to Mittelheim, via a passing merchant vessel. Soon, ships from all across Mittelheim were arriving, and the various petty states began to stake their claims to this land.

New Mittelheim is now a crucial trading hub, comprising a key link in the Mittelheim Atlantic triangle trade: peasant slaves from Mittelheim to the Leechcoast; gems, leaves, and, especially, hippo knees to New Mittelheim; these are then exchanged for local loin cloths, which are shipped to England for use as napkins, where they are exchanged for false moustaches; false moustaches to Mittelheim, where they are used as part of the disguises to lure unwary peasants onto ships bound for the Leech Coast.

Imperial Fenwick's colony is probably the least developed. Unable without rupturing themselves even to say the phrase 'penetrate the interior', the Fenwickians have only small holdings limited to a coastal enclave, though even the phrase 'small holdings' sounds saucy, if not downright rude. Fort Pippin lies at the centre of their territories. It is here that duties are collected on the sale of local loin cloths. The Mittelheim enthusiasm for these garments has been a puzzling, though generally welcome, phenomenon for native traders, who now happily exchange their garments for trade goods and a period of relaxing nakedness. Rotenburg's colony has its capital at New Athens. In addition to loin cloths, Rotenburg merchants are also keen on beaver, a focus that is, of course, impossible for anyone from Grand Fenwick.

Both Imperial Fenwick and Rotenburg have suffered heavily from the depredations of the Wappesdoo tribe. Attacks from this tribe have increased in potency because of the activities of unscrupulous merchants that have sold to the locals muskets and Leech brandy. Whilst few have a problem with the sale of the brandy, it being useful to keep the indigenous tribes wildly hammered on the near lethal Mittelheim speciality, the spread of muskets has increased significantly the potency of Wappesdoo warbands under their chief, Chain-That-Looks-Like-Gold. Attempts to ban the sale of firearms to the tribes have been blocked by local merchants on the basis that it is human nature, not firearms, that is the source of the problem: as one merchant put it: 'Guns don't kill people, Wappesdoo'.

Further to the north lie the colonies belonging to Nabstria and Saukopf-Bachscuttel, these being, respectively, Falconia and New Pfeildorf. In Falconia, the main native threat comes from the fierce Mohair tribe under their chief, Touches Beaver. Mohair war parties regularly cross the Sippinpissi river to spread in Falconia death, destruction and some surprisingly severe haircuts.  New Pfeildorf, too, suffers periodically from Mohair expeditions, but the main challenge to Saukopf's settlements comes from the impact of a European colony, the colony of Nova Cambria. Founded by the English in 1726 as the colony of Nova Anglia, the settlement was soon abandoned, the British worn down by the the hostility of the local Washango tribe and their unwillingness to dress properly for dinner. In 1748, the colony was resurrected as a short-lived actors' collective, the Colony of Free Expression, by the overly romantic, and underly successful, writer of musical theatre, Benjamin Biffle. Biffle and his entourage were fleeing persecution in England after a run of bad critical reviews of his London play, The Wrong Pantaloons, a play so poor that it had earned Biffle the label 'The Abominable Showman'. The collective disintegrated when it became clear to most that they were, in fact, in the wilds of America and not, as Biffle had promised, Dundee.

Nevertheless, thanks to Biffle, the local Washango acquired far more exposure to musical theatre than is strictly safe for a developing people. Washango warfare became  an interminable affair, featuring musical accompaniment, uncomfortable seating, at least four separate acts, and an interval that involved licking small, cold snacks from a stick. On the brink of self-destruction by the early 1750s, the colony was rescued by an influx of Welsh nationalists under the leadership of Rhodri Barrabrith. Barrabrith resurrected the colony as a centre of Welsh culture, the settlement being appropriately barren. Barrabrith disappeared under mysterious circumstances two years ago. Renamed Nova Cambria, the colony has remained in Welsh hands thanks to their determination and the fact that no one in England knows that they own it. Though there is no direct conflict between Nova Cambria and New Pfeildorf, the former's attempts to spread the benefits of Welsh culture to the indigenous tribes has caused significant migration of the Washango into the north of Saukopf's territory, the tribes being terrified by the Welsh beards and the length of their vowels.

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