History of Voskia

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In many chapters of the history of Voskia, it can be divided geographically neatly through the Strait of Divis (Otranto) between Voskia proper on the one side and Gurdia on the other side.

Early history

At the beginning of history, a Hellenic people settled in both Voskia proper and Gurdia before 2000 BCE. Its language developed quite distinctively from its sister languages approximately since the Mycenaean period. Greek diaspora from the 8th and 7th centuries saw the coming of many Greeks to particularly Voskia proper, founding coastal settlements (the present-day Voskian capital of Divis claims to be founded around that time) and pushing the Voskian tribes to the inlands for the time being. Around the 6th and 5th centuries, the Voskians managed however to unify themselves and regain control of the whole of Voskia proper, leading to what is now considered the First Voskian Kingdom (506 – 292 BCE). The Voskian tribes in present day Gurdia remained however outside this kingdom.

The rise of Epirus chased the Voskians from most parts of Gurdia by the Greek tribes of especially the Kourthians, but also the Chaonians, Molossians and Thesprotians and the whole Gurdian area to the Strait was incorporated in the single state of Epirus in 370 BCE. It was only then that the name Gurdia came into use, as present day Gurdia is – according to many historians – derived from the name Kourthians (Κουρθοί – Kourthoi). Epirus fought several small wars with the kingdom of Voskia, and managed to conquer the latter at the beginning of the 3rd century.

Roman era

At the same time, Rome had established itself as a major power on the Italian peninsula, but had not yet come into conflict with the dominant powers in the Mediterranean Basin at the time: Carthage and the Greek kingdoms. When a diplomatic dispute between Rome and a Greek colony in southern Italy erupted into open warfare in a naval confrontation, the Greek colony appealed for military aid to Pyrrhus, ruler of Epirus, who moved a Greek army of some 25,000 men through Voskia to Italy in 280 BCE. After five years, Pyrrhus withdrew completely from Italy, although subsequent battles were indecisive. Rome quickly moved into southern Italia, subjugating and dividing the Greek colonies. Between 272 and 269, Voskia proper was annexed to the Roman Republic as well. The rest of Epirus became part of the Roman Empire along with the rest of Greece in 146 BCE.

The division of the Roman Empire in the period that was finalised in 395 CE, saw its division along the Strait of Divis (Otranto), Voskia proper remaining part of the West and Gurdia becoming part of the Eastern or Byzantine Empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, Goths and other Germanic tribes invaded Voskia and annexed it the Kingdom of Italy; although other parts of Italy had been increasingly populated by Germanic peoples long before that year, Voskia, as the southernmost part, had more or less kept a mixed Roman/Greek/Voskian identity until then. During the century that followed, there were minor influences from the Germanic rulers onto the Voskian language and culture. This ended in the 6th century, when the Byzantine Empire started to reconquer some of the Western provinces and annexed Voskia proper and parts of southern Italy.

Normans, Venetians, Ottomans and independence

Around 1000, Normans began to arrive in Voskia and southern Italy and some decades later, they conquered large parts of the region, involving many battles and many independent players conquering territories of their own. In 1130 these were united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included not only the island of Sicily, but also Voskia and the entire southern third of the Italian Peninsula, as well as the archipelago of Malta and parts of North Africa.

After the passing of the Kingdom of Sicily to the House of Hohenstaufen in 1194, Voskia managed to break free of its power for a short while, resulting in the short-lived Second Voskian Kingdom (1201 – 1269), that was however partly reconquered by Charles I, Duke of Anjou, while the rest was divided into regional principalities that came under the increasing control of the Republic of Venice. Especially the area around the Strait remained in Venetian possession for several decades, but around 1400, the whole of Voskia proper was part of Venice.

Around the same time, the Byzantine Empire lost its control over Gurdia, which became part of the Despotate of Epirus that was founded in 1205. Apart from a brief Serbian rule between 1337 and 1356, the larger part of Gurdia remained part of Epirus until 1466, when the First Kingdom of Gurdia (1466 – 1533) broke free from it. From 1480 to 1527 the Ottoman Empire tried to conquer Gurdia and Voskia proper in an attempt to gain access to the Italian peninsula, but in the end they gave up. The whole of Voskia was gradually conquered by Sicily under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgers, but in 1644, after several revolts, a number of semi-independent territories formed the Confederacy of Gurdia, Greater Voskia, Korfu, Avaza and Evaģa, which was internationally recognised four years later and more or less modelled after the Swiss Confederacy and lasted until 1739. In that year the Kingdom of Napels conquered Voskia, while Gurdia continued as an independent nation (Second Kingdom of Gurdia) for another ten years, after which it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

The Romansh

The second half of the 17th century also saw the arrival of a small Romansh speaking Roman-Catholic order with a small entourage from the Swiss alps to the present-day southern island of Isla de Rumantscha. Their number expanded in the decades that followed and they started to take care of the indigenous Voskian and Greek inhabitants of the island, slowly turning the island into a giant fortress. The Isla Rumantscha remained neutral in most conflicts and had friendly relations with most parties that governed the rest of present-day Voskia.

Bourbon rule

In 1735, Naples and Sicily had been attacked by king Philip V of Spain, a Bourbon, who installed his younger son, Duke Charles of Parma, as king Charles VII of Naples and Sicily, starting a cadet branch of the house of Bourbon. Four years later, the kingdom of Naples and Sicily conquered Voskia. After dealings with France, in which the kingdom temporarily lost Naples in 1799, king Ferdinand IV of Naples was forced to create a constitution for his kingdom. Although Voskia had been promised an autonomous status and its own consitution, it was not until 1816 that these were realised. Instead, a two-chamber parliament was created in Palermo and Naples only at first, but after Napoleon's defeat in 1815, these reforms too were repealed. The Congress of Vienna did however recognise the territorial integrity of Voskia, and the country became a kingdom, the (Third) Kingdom of Voskia, in personal union with the kingdom of Naples and Sicily (which was renamed Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1816).

Between 1816 and 1848, Voskia was governed by a viceroy, appointed by the king of the Two Sicilies himself, until Voskia was hit by a revolt in the wake of revolutionary Europe and the king had to accept some sort of influence of the Voskian parliament in the naming of the government. In reality it turned out that the parliament only got an advisory role, but little trouble ensued after that.

Revolution and Savoye rule

In 1860 a revolt against the Boubon regime broke out throughout both kingdoms, assisted by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his forces. King Francis II tried to regain control of his country. In June, he restored the constitution and promised special institutions for the kingdom, but a referendum regarding the unification with Italy, organised later that year resulted in a majority of 99% voting for unification.

No referendum about unification was organised in Voskia, and many Voskian nationalists wanted to take the chance and lead Voskia to full independency. Sardinian/Italian troops invaded Voskia however early November and destroyed much of the then Voskian capital of Rāģidz. Most nationalists were arrested and later executed and Voskia got under the rule of the Kingdom of Italy.

Voskia maintained its autonomous status and in 1883 king Umberto I named a relative, Robert de Savoye-Voschi, duke of Voskia. It was his grandson that became king Ferdinand III of Voskia after the Italian rule of the country came to an end. After 1900, Voskia enjoyed many constitutional liberties, and it played a significant role in the reconquest of Gurdia as well as the independence of Albania of 1912.

The conquest of Gurdia and the southeastern islands by Italy/Voskia was welcomed by the Voskian population of that area, as it fitted in the Voskian nationalist ideas of a 'greater Voskia'. The Gurdians however had rather mixed feelings about becoming part of Italy, rather than Albania. During the first world war, Gurdians tried a few times to separate the island from Italy/Voskia, but they didn't succeed.

Rising fascism, war and full independence

The rising fascism in the 1920s saw the local government's power decrease significantly in favour of the Italian government. In 1934 the autonomy of Voskia came to an end, after which it was simply added to the Italian territory; a year later the semi-autonomous Isla Rumantscha was also conquered by Italy. Through Voskia and Gurdia, Italy conquered Albania in 1939. After the end of the Second World War, Italy tried to keep Voskia within its boundaries, but after a large uprising during which many Italians were chased away and in some cases even killed, the United States of America intervened, organising peace-talks after which Italy accepted Voskian independence, which occurred on 1 June 1946. Ferdinand de Savoye-Voschi was declared king Ferdinand III of the (Fourth) Kingdom of Voskia.

In the subsequent years Gurdian communist forces, assisted by Albania, tried to establish a communist rule in the Gurdian provinces and Voskian troops had a hard time keeping the provinces in Voskian hands, but they were assisted by British and Americans, who were at the same time planning to overthrow the communist regime in neighbouring Albania. Gurdian communism got a significant blow in March 1950, when one of the headquarters in Màjmal was completely destroyed by explosives that went off when they shouldn't have, killing several communist leaders. Government forces then managed to round up remaining communists rather easily, whereas others hid themselves for a while and later became respected members of the communist party.

Attemps to end communism in Albania went not so well. Between 1950 and 1952 guerilla units entered Albania, but all of them were killed of captured by Albanian security forces, after a Soviet double agent had leaked the details of the infiltration plan to Moscow. The Albanian regime implemented harsh internal security measures and, after seeing that the plans in Voskia to transform the Gurdian provinces of Voskia into a communist state were thwarted, closed its border with Voskia until 1971. Some Albanians tried to flee their country to Voskia, but they were often shot before they crossed the border.

Protests continued in the mean time by ordinary Gurdians for the fact that they now seemed to become subjugated in their own land to the Voskians. For some years, there was a strong movement in Gurdia aiming for the island to join Albania or to become independent. Only until significant reforms were promised to the Gurdian people, the protests ceased. Some kind of quota was created to ensure a certain amount of Voskians and Gurdians in the country's politics and the kingdom was renamed the Kingdom of the Vosks and the Gurds in 1953.

Building a country

Thanks in part to the American Marshall Plan, that helped the destroyed European countries rebuild themselves after the war, Voskia experienced rapid economic growth during the '50s and the '60s. The severely fragmented political landscape caused however many governments to collapse far before the end of their terms, resulting in ever changing policies that merely profited from the growth instead of leading it. Although king Ferdinand III had relatively much influence in the country’s government at first, taking a number of important decisions during the first five governmental periods during his reign to stimulate the economic growth, his powers were limited already in 1953 and his role became largely ceremonial, although he was still allowed to appoint heads of government. In 1981, he died and was succeeded by his son, king Louis, who remains the current head of the house of Savoye-Voschi since the country became a republic in 1996.

The 'quota' lead to the appointment by the king of the first prime minister of Gurdian descent, Viktor Martuçi, in 1965, after the government of Domenic Buria, a politician of Romansh origin, collapsed after ongoing protests of the Gurdian population for the lack of government funding going to the Gurdian provinces. Martuçi's government fell within a year however and the popular Voskian former prime minister Ģiōģius Erjudz (social-democrat prime minister from 1957 to 1962, from 1966 to 1973, from 1973 to 1979 and from 1985 to 1990) returned to head the government. Between 1968 and 1972 his fifth government became the first and only to date to complete a four year term.

Military coup and republic

A deteriorating economy made the political parties search for a solution to let the government become more effective, but several talks during the ‘80s about a new system failed one after the other. The country had requested membership of the European Community, but accession was postponed twice and finally planned for 1995 to happen, only to be annulled in 1993 after the military staged a coup in order to replace subsequent failing governments and to put a stop to the refugees entering Voskia from Albania and the former Yugoslavian republics.

The provisional military government was headed by the old colonel Pāvus Kezimidz, who appeared to be nothing more than a puppet leader. The royal family was sent into exile, most prominent politicians and journalists arrested and several human liberties, such as freedom of speech, were suspended, invoking many international protests, but since the dictatorship didn’t turn very violent, the international community effectively turned a blind eye for the moment, as the situation in Bosnia required more attention.

Later on, colonel Kezimidz turned out to be the force behind the coup after all, for his sudden death in 1996 left the junta confused and weakened. The 'civilian face' of the regime, Timōģius Mirģiādis (1933 – 1998), was put forward as the colonel's successor and given the title of 'president'. Mirģiādis approved several institutional changes that would increase democracy in Voskia. He refused the return of king Louis as head of state, instead urging the country's politicians to let Voskia remain a republic. Between 1996 and 1998, the Republic of the Vosks and the Gurds was finalised. Mirģiādis stepped down in 1998 for health reasons and was succeeded by the popular former prime minister Umberto Scuolz (PD), of Romansh origin.

The political system returned however to its fragmented system soon after democracy was restored. Although in several cases not the largest party in parliament, the party PD (Protàşvētij Dēmukracieş or 'Champions of the Republic') headed several of the more succesful governments under the Gurdian politician Başkim Arhali, and in 2010 these managed to create an electoral threshold of 3% to reduce the number of parties represented in parliament. The move was only partially succesful; the largest party currently represented (the social-democrat K-ĢP) still has less than 20% of the 229 seats.