Early 1500s: Europeans adventurers arrive
Spanish and Portuguese adventurers came westward over the ocean looking for gold and
fortune, but the ones who came to Bergonia met far more sophisticated,
resilient foes than others found in Mexico and Peru. While the
Bergonians in 1492 had no firearms or horses, they had iron swords and
armor. They did not mistake the conquistadors for deities, and in fact
suspected that they were dealing with inferior creatures because the
newcomers smelled so bad (Europeans did not bath in those days, while
Bergonians were punctilious about their personal hygiene).
The Bergonians in 1492 had no one vulnerable center of power, as did the
Inca and Aztec imperial regimes. Instead Bergonia consisted of
numerous states and city-states, each with its own army and militias.
The Bergonians did not lose heart when the Europeans attacked, and at first
very few of them rushed to join the newcomers. In the 1500s the
Spanish conquistadors and subsequent French and English adventurers had just
fair success at conquest, succeeding only in planting beachheads along the
coasts. However, they soon benefited from an unseen ally-- disease.
1540-1620: Disease abets the European cause
The very literate Bergonians recorded the first cases of smallpox in 1533. In 1540 the first epidemic broke out in Comleta. Smallpox, bubonic
plague and other Eurasian
diseases decimated the atrei--
population-- reducing it from an estimated total of
65 million in 1540 to a mere 16 million in 1620. In the early
1600s Europeans traveling throughout Bergonia found cities with only a
sixth of the houses occupied, hundreds of villages completely abandoned,
temples filled with cobwebs, and fields overgrown. The numbers do not tell
the whole story. The Airileife
("eye-ri-lay'-feh") --a Nacateca term meaning "universal
catastrophe"-- so utterly demoralized the native people that it wrecked
havoc on their culture and society.
More details on the deadly
Europeans plant colonies along the coast
The depopulation cleared the land for European
settlers. Portugal planted colonies on the east coast, England on the south,
and France on the north. French Huguenots fled Catholic persecution and
settled in Pasiana, and English dissenters found refuge in the south. A
number of Danes and Swedes founded fishing villages in the northwest, and
even a few Jews and Arabs fleeing from Spain came to Bergonia and wandered
After the English realized that the surviving
Bergonians had too much pride to work as slaves, they imported black slaves
for their new cotton plantations, but many of the slaves-- unlike those in
America-- found that they could flee inland to areas still controlled by
Jesuits, Franciscans and other Catholic missionaries from Spain and France
penetrated the inland regions. The Jesuits from France and Portugal wandered from their
coastal bases and wandered all over Bergonia's interior teaching the word of
God. Only the Jesuits had the fearless willingness to penetrate the
Ifuno plateau region and mix and live with the atrei, even donning the
native dress, including the baggy trousers and long tunics.
The missionaries made thousands of converts among the demoralized populace.
Many atrei were receptive. Miradi explained to humankind that God was
within and that sin was also real within, but Miradi in this time of sorrows
seemed too distant in comparison to Christianity, which showed how God
deeply loves humankind. But other survivors fiercely clung onto the
The Jesuits were particularly delighted in how literate the atrei were, and
they responded by learning the native languages. The Jesuits
translated the Bible into Minidun in 1645, Pasan in 1647 and Nacateca in
1559, and by 1620 they were printing tracts and catechisms into the native
In 1675 the Jesuits established their first university at Ceveron at the
mouth of the Escondi river in Porguguese controlled country. In 1689 a
great university and mission was established in Ligsa, just outside the pale
of Portuguese settlement. These universities educated atrei men in the
European classics as well as proper theology, and they turned out thousands
of priests. Both universities still function proudly today, although
both have had difficult and tenuous histories, with bouts of near apostasy
among faculty, financial ruin, fire, and military attack from atrei
reactionaries. In French controlled country the Jesuits built a string
of missions across the Ifuno plain, hundreds of miles beyond the extent of
French settlement. A network of universities was functioning by 1650.
An archbisopric was established in the Portuguese colonial city of Santo
Spirito, but in 1709 the archbishopric was moved to the larger city of
Barcelos, where the Portuguese governor had his capitol. The next year
the archbishop commenced the construction of a magnificent cathedral.
MArble was floated down the Escondi river on barges from a quarry located
160 miles west in the high hills of Sansan. This cathedral stands to
this day as a beautiful example of __ architecture, then predominant
in Portugal. The atrei were astounded by the size and strange decorous
beauty of the cathedral, and many came walking on journeys from all over
Amota to see it and the other sights of Barcelos. One priest wrote in
his journal, "We easily confuse the natives' awe of this cathedral for the
proper awe of God. How stimulated these people are by the sensual."
Bergonians for centuries had been known to make journeys for purely
pleasurable purposes, such as to take in the sights or enjoy a different
climate. Even peasants had been known to sling a pack on their backs
and set off on what the Australians would later call a "walkabout."
Indeed in classical Bergonia the phenomena of what we in the 21st Century
call "tourism" existed.
Late 1500s: European domination
The European domination of Bergonia was almost
as much like the (much later) English takeover of India as it was like
European colonizing of the Americas. In the Americas there was little
equity between the colonizer and the subject natives, the one sociologically
and technically far more advanced, the other ravaged by disease. India
was more technologically advanced than the Aztecs or Incas (with metallurgy
& gunpowder) and almost as advanced as the European intruders.
Bergonians suffered from two critical differences in military capacity-- the
lack of gunpowder and the lake of horses, but by the mid-1600s those
differences had largely disappeared. The plagues of course dealt a
horrific blow to Bergonian abilities to resist conquest, but although Berg
culture suffered a serious maiming, its integrity nevertheless survived--
quite a difference from the Americas where the integrity of native cultures
The Europeans got much stiffer military resistance from the Bergonians
than from most native Americans. All throughout the waves of
plagues, Bergonians still managed military resistance in many places.
The journals of explorers, conquistadors and administrators contain
critical meditations on the stubborn temperament of the atrei, noting
their intractability ("...they learn nothing from beatings other than a
brutish hate"), open hostility ("never a day without a sneer...") and
natural tendency to rebel ("every day I fear could be the day").
Of course the European powers used natives to fight natives, as they did
in the Americas, in India and in nearly every other colonial conquest.
Their Bergonian armies largely consisted of Christianized atrei, though
they sometimes relied on hiring mercenaries ("the most treacherous beasts
any Christian will ever encounter"). As in India, the Europeans
remained content with allowing self-government to a certain number of
provinces, most of these in the interior. The benefit of direct
conquest did not for the Europeans justify the cost. The atrei
dictators of these interior regions saved the Europeans the trouble of
administering every square inch of the island-continent, and they largely
did as they were told. But all the coastal areas where Europeans
settled, and most certainly all the seaports, came under the direct
control of colonial governors.
By 1580 the three European powers had fairly well divided Bergonia and
set up colonial regimes.
The settlers who came from France included few peasants, for most peasants
were bound to the land and could not emigrate. Nobles had little
reason to leave their great estates for a strange land where French rule
was tenuous, although some did, typically the younger sons, the
dishonored, and the adventurous. Most of the people who came to
northern Bergonian from France were middle class who had the means, the
self-reliance and the desire to seek opportunity overseas. They fled
the antiquated feudal guild restrictions on trade, and the unfair tax
A great number of the settlers were refugee Huguenots, whom the
Crown at times allowed exit out of France. Also among the settlers
were thousands of Jansenists. This movement took its name fro
the founder Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), and professed to follow the
teachings of St. Augustine. They practiced meditation and other
prescribed devotional practices. They started a convent center at
Port-Royal Des Champs near Versailles, tolerated by the Crown, and earned
a great reputation. The Jansenists had a role in the Fronde
Rebellion. The Jesuits opposed them and finally so did Luois 14th,
who in 1704 destroyed Port-Royal. In 1713 the Pope issued the Bull
Unigenitus which condemned the movement. Thereafter a great number
of Jansenists were permitted to leave France and take sail for Bergonia.
The Huguenots and Jansenits settled at first almost exclusively in Pasiana.
In 1724 the Jansenist founded a new university in a town they named
The French crown chartered four colonies, Pasiana, Comleta, Goninbad and
Clacupo Bay. A governor appointed by the King headed each one of the
colonies and each had near dictatorial powers within his boundaries.
He could impose certain taxes, raise and pay armies and appoint
commanders, and he could direct armies sent from France. This
effectively meant that Frnech forces in Bergonia had four separate
territorial commands. The navy existed under a unified command, with
forts in all the harbors where its ships harbored.
The Governors of course was charged with protecting the interests of the
Church. Each governor appointed intendants who governed all civil
matters and collected taxes. Intendants were powerful in their own
right, but they reported to the governor who usually could remove them at
will. While they could organize constabularies, the intendants never
held any military powers.
In fact the governors had tremendous practical limitations on their
powers, and they were in many areas able to rule only with diplomacy,
bargaining and prudent military forays. The basic tool of French
rule ended up being the charter. The governor was able to exert
direct control over certain limited areas, mainly along the coasts, and
beyond these areas the intendants ruled only with charters with cities and
towns. These charters came about because of the atrei's desire to
avoid French military attack, but also because of their hope for French
trade and support. Some of the French towns themselves, particularly
those with Huguenot majorities. The French governors allowed many
locals to raise militias in addition to the constabularies. The
militias became almost as much trouble as they were worth; they feuded and
fought with each other, and too often they refused the governor's orders
they found inconvenient.
European economic imperialism-- oceanic trade and mercantilism:
Ocean Trade: All three European powers tried to chain
the economies of their Bergonian colonies with their national economies
back home. Their laws forbade the people within their colonial zones
from trading with any other European national. Neither the British,
the French nor the Portuguese allowed each other's ships, or ships from
Spain or Holland, to trade in their ports. Enforcement of these
policies were largely successful, although a great deal of smuggling took
place along Bergonia's long coast.
Inland trade was another matter. Long before Columbus came to
curse the land, Bergonia had evolved into a single cohesive trade unit,
containing several regional economies each with its own mineral,
agricultural or manufactured specialties for trade. The fist impulse
of the colonial masters was to forbid trade over their colonial borders.
As an example the British controlled the cotton producing regions and
shipped the cotton back home where English factories wove cloth, denying
it to its traditional markets in the rest of Bergonia. Then English
merchants shipped the cloth back to the Bergonian colonies where the atrei
had to buy it. Of course the English cloth cost far more than cloth
would have cost if the cotton had remained in Bergonian for weaving.
Moreover, the cost of cotton goods in French and Portuguese Bergonia was
artificially high. The restrictions of artificial borders were
commonly defied, and colonial forces dashed about chasing smugglers.
British Bergonia produced for the homeland cotton, sugar, tobacco, fruit,
fine woods, and precious stones. England sent to Bergonia indentured
labor for work on plantations, finished textiles and manufactured goods.
The British were generally very efficient in exploiting their colonial
possessions without desiccating them.
French and Portuguese colonialists expropriated for their homelands gold,
silver, precious stones, furs, linen fabric, fine wool, and quality wood,
without trading anything back to the colony in return. At the same
time, both France and Portugal encouraged the development of local
agricultural and urban economies that would benefit the imperial regime
through the remission of taxes.
European cultural imperialism-- a matter of race, religion and class:
When the Europeans conquered new cities and towns, they often learned
right away the limitations of their power. Many towns surrendered
only after negotiations. The inhabitants refused to allow themselves
to be trussed up, branded, tied, or beaten as were many Indians in the
Americas (particularly in Spanish colonies), and they would rebel, even suicidally, against such tortures, and so the Europeans swiftly gave up on
enslaving the Bergonians, but rather learned to be content with milder
forms of exploitation. Bergonian peasants labored as they had for
centuries before, but now many had European overlords. European
nobles and soldiers ran the cities, but most natives went about their
business as laborers, dock hands, messengers, weavers, craftsmen,
librarians and engineers. The Europeans found that they had conquered but
not fully subjugated. They found that submissive atrei would often
spring into violent opposition if they went too far-- particularly with
attempts to infringe on Miradi temples or the
In the Americas every native temple was shut and destroyed, while in
India, Vietnam and other Asian countries the European conquerors had to
suffer the native religions. Temples and mosques remained open in
India while the British ruled, and the French tolerated Buddhism in
Indochina even as they succeeded in converting a sizeable fraction to
Catholicism. Likewise, the atrei fought every attempt to shut down
their Miradi temples. Many temples were shuttered, burned, or given
over to Christian missions, especially in the coastal areas, but the big
majority of temples in the interior survived. In 1606 the French
shut down the Miradi capital of Chambolet and disbursed all the priests &
priestesses. In response the Ifuno Plateau region began roiling with
revolt. Beginning in 1612 Miradi priests led peasant rebellions.
French colonial authorities were harried and harassed along the roads,
then turned away, and the atrei began attacking colonial institutions, including churches
and missions. The worst of these outbreaks occurred in what is now Sefaieri and rural Cuecha. The Governor of Comleta allowed the
resumption of the __ in 1636. Thereafter there was a decidedly
greater tolerance by the French for Miradi religious institutions and
activity. Still, it was not until the 1720s that any of the colonial
governments officially allowed the construction of any new Miradi temples
In the coastal areas directly controlled by the three powers, whites held
all power. Wherever Europeans lived they built their own clubs,
stores and schools. Every city had a European quarter. Atrei were
often not allowed to go into these neighborhoods, or enter European clubs,
hotels, restaurants or businesses, except as servants or workers.
The white colonial governments relied on bodies of Christianized atrei and
sherei (mestizo) for bureaucratic functions and skilled labor.
Bergonians in this way learned how to use printing presses. The
colonial armies likewise were commanded by whites, but the enlisted
soldier was usually a Christianized atrei or sherei. The sons and
daughters of Christianized atrei filled the missions, monasteries and
convents, but only a few sherei made it high into the church hierarchy.
The European colonists would hardly ever take a servant into their homes
or onto their estates who was not a Christian.
All three of the colonial powers in varying degrees regulated who could
work in different occupations according to race and religion.
Religion was the way for an atrei to overcome the race barrier.
These rules allowed Christianized sherei and atrei to practice as
advocates before the colonial courts, and even to act as judges in cases
involving non-whites. There were even stupid attempts by the
colonials to suppress any attempts by Miradi atrei to practice medicine,
pharmacy, accounting and engineering, but practical need trumped the
racist impulse, and capable atrei of both religions came to dominate these
Because Britain, France & Portugal controlled Bergonia's port cities, they
controlled all export and import. Having carved up Bergonia, they
tried to control the flow of overland trade between their respective
colonies. At first only white traders could legally engage in such
trade, but the Europeans could not control all economic exchange, and many
Miradi atrei engaged in local trade and trade in common commodities like
grains and cloth. The colonial authorities relaxed the
barriers, first to admit sherei, and then to admit Christianized atrei.
The efforts of the colonial governments to monopolize all mining for gold,
silver, precious stones and lead likewise only partially succeeded.
Just as before Columbus,
class dominated the peasantry. They lived richly by
exacting a share of the harvest. In the areas directly controlled by
Britain, France and Spain the iregemi were almost all whites, with a small
minority of sherei. In the interior most of the iregemi were atrei,
and many of these local lords were Miradi.
Of course all the city laborers, warehousemen, barge workers, dockworkers,
miners and loggers, and craftsmen, as well as the bulk of the peasantry
and herders, were atrei, and mostly Miradi. This was the servile
class of colonial society, a class without rights. Colonial laws
restricted what capitalists would later call "labor mobility" by
prohibiting a man from leaving his employ without his master's consent.
This of course virtually rendered the bulk of atrei into a kind of
slavery, although they often had the pride of their own homes, came and
went from the master's premises, and attended Miradi temple services.
All the peasants were bound to the land, and thus bound to the iregemi who
owned the land. There was no slavery of the sort where men could be
sold, or where families could be torn apart, but sometimes skilled
craftsmen and artisans had binding contracts that could legally be sold
1650-1750-- the native
In 1620 the atrei (native) population bottomed out--
approximately 11 million. By 1700 native numbers and energy rebounded,
at first slowly but then more rapidly, even while the three European states
consolidated political and military control over the entire island.
The subsequent history of Bergonia is the story of how the native
population reasserted itself and retook control of their country and
culture. History does tell a story of how the two cultures battled,
but also tells how the two cultures traded, communed and combined to make
things dear to everyone.
In the 1600s native Bergonians formed their
own Christian churches. They learned European styles of art, dress and
manners, but practiced them with distinctly Bergonian accents and twists.
Likewise European settlers adopted many native customs. The
European Calendar replaced the traditional Bergonian calendar, the seven day
Christian week replaced the six day Miradi week in areas where
Christians dominated, and the natives began using the Roman alphabet to
write their own languages..
the coastal areas the three colonial regimes imposed order
These areas were entirely placated and subjugated by Britain, France and
Spain. The land in these areas
was divided and deeded according to European grants and law. The
police on all levels ultimately answered to the colonial governor.
Europeans had explicit legal superiority in these areas.
By contrast colonial control over the
interior of Bergonia was far more tenuous. The Interior was
rather wild and wooly, a place where a man could escape and disappear,
where outlaws, fugitives and adventurers proliferated. The colonial
regimes had garrisons in most of the cities in the interior, but their
grip was conditional and sometimes quite ineffective. Colonial
administrators and military commanders dominated the interior only by
cajoling, hiring or threatening the local mayors, chiefs and iregemi.
In the large cities the European colonial administration had to contend
with a thousand legitimate interests, some resolutely anti-European in
outlook if not in deeds, as well as with smugglers, extortionists, thieves
and beggars. Bandits and outlaws lived in the hills among the shepherds.
European adventurers and fugitives wandered the interior. One could
be free, in a hardscrabble, chaotic fashion, to organize a gang of
smugglers, a brothel, a cult or a school.
During this time the atrei population rebounded with rapid growth.
Most of this growth occurred on the
Ifuno Plateau, a region penetrated by only a few thousand European
colonists. By 1766 the Ifuno was home to perhaps ten million people,
nearly all atrei, and about 40% of Bergonia's total population. Here
atrei, not Europeans, comprised the upper class of
Iregemi planters and traders (though most of them had adopted European
dress-- copper-brown faces under tri-corner hats, and powdered wigs in some
extremes cases of affectation ). They were about evenly divided
between Catholic and Miradi, though the bulk of the Ifuno peasantry who
labored under their domination were Miradi. They generally had little
regard for the British, and had generally preferred the French, who
generally offered better terms. This development paralleled French
alliances with Indians against the British in North America. During
the Seven Years War the French had given arms to some of the atrei warlords,
and other warlords had hired their own gunsmiths to make arms themselves.
After the war many of the Iregemi planters maintained their own
militia forces. Armed militias under control of local strongmen
in the Ifuno would plague the next one hundred years of Bergonian history.
Indeed there were a number of small states in the interior (largely in
southwest-central Berg-- see map below) that remained independent.
They had furiously resisted the British in the 1600s, but after the British
adjusted borders with them to their liking, the British placated them with
1756-1763: The Seven Year War-- Britain conquers almost all Bergonia:
One could say that the
Seven Years War (known parochially in US history as the French &
Indian War) was perhaps the first truly world war, since Britain and France
fought each other in Asia, North America and Bergonia, as well as on the
high seas. Simultaneously on the Continent, Britain's ally, Prussia,
fought Austria and Russia, which had sided with France.
France had generally appointed smart. capable
men to serve as its four colonial governors, and afforded them great
discretionary powers. They succeeded in cultivating alliances with the
remaining independent states in southwest-central Bergonia. The
governors directed the French military effort against the British in
Bergonia. Together the French colonial armies and the independent
Bergonians invaded the English territory in southern Bergonia, virtually
overrunning all Pueoi.
But in all the other theaters of the world war the
English prevailed, and the French were forced to surrender. In the
1763 Treaty of Paris, France had to surrender her Bergonian, Canadian and
After 1763, the British held exclusive sway over Bergonia, and ran all its
ports. A Crown commission established seven colonies with seven
governors, and a unified system of tariffs and tolls. Of course
British merchants and traders obtained all the valuable licenses and
commissions, and British traders held monopolies in major areas. The
British protected the French and Spanish settler populations, and
maintained a set of laws that discriminated against all atrei and
mixed-race. But there were many atrei and mixed-race individuals
engaging in the professions, and making money as traders, manufacturers
Map of Colonial Bergonia
Detailed Map of Bergonia, 700-1500 AD
See the entire collection of