Mont Saint Michel!
Twenty two years ago, at age 8 Louis XIII became the King of France, with his mother (Marie de'Medici, also mother of Duke Gaston of Orleans and Queen Henrietta Maria of England) acting as regent. Fourteen years ago, when Louis XIII was 16 years old, Cardinal Richelieu was ordered into exile for conspiring against Marie de'Medici. However, Louis XIII and his supporters were troubled that Marie remained regent even after her son reached age to ascend (In addition to being 16 years old, Louis XIII had been married two years to Anne of Austria -- who remains his Queen). After a year of dispute over the throne, Louis XIII recalled Richelieu from exile (despite his wife, Anne's, dislike of the Cardinal) to help Louis XIII silence Marie de'Medici's supporters.
Eight years ago, Cardinal Richelieu was made First Minister of France by King Louis XIII, and Richelieu has since consolidated most political power in the country into his own hands. Louis XIII's supporters have been more and more concerned about the King's ability to hold the Kingdom together, as Anne of Austria still has produced no heir, and Louis XIII's popular brother, Duke Gaston of Orleans, remains the only obvious heir. Just last year, in 1631, Marie de'Medici was sent into exile in Brussels, to prevent any further conspiracy between her and Duke Gaston of Orleans.
With the immediate threats to his reign over, King Louis and his First Minister, Richelieu, have turned their attention on Lorraine; a very independent Duchy that has -- heretofore -- been ruled almost independently of the crown. Lorraine has housed enemies of the King, and has built a powerful army. The King is presently maneuvering to bring the rebel Duchy (presently ruled by Duke Charles IV) back under his sovereignty.
Though the King has outlawed duels, and has ordered any man who kills an adversary in a duel to be put to death, secret duels do still take place between certain members of the proud French aristocracy. Many French nobles, including the Duke of Orleans, have criticized the King's decree as a means of removing a traditional way by which gentlemen could settle their differences, in order to move all such questions into the political realm where the King could give preference to his favorites.
The French people no longer stand divided between the True Church and the Huguenot Protestants (who first rebelled against King Louis XIII eleven years ago); La Rochelle (the last holding of the Huguenots) fell to the French crown four years ago. The English had fought against King Louis XIII, on the side of the Huguenots, in La Rochelle in 1627. The English fleet was commanded by George Villars, Duke of Buckingham, who is rumored to have been motivated to invade France out of love for the French Queen, Anne of Austria.
The English under King Charles I have begun colonizing the New World. Queen Henrietta Maria is the wife of King Charles I and sister to the French Duke Gaston of Orleans and King Louis XIII of France. Charles II, the King's heir, is two years old. The English Parliament has been dissolved for the past three years. King Charles I, to help fund his expansion of the English Navy and commercial interests, began the practice of selling knighthoods to any propertied person six years ago. Two years ago a treaty signed in Madrid, Spain ended the war between the French and the English -- however, there is still tension between the two nations, particularly over religion.
The English church is hated throughout most of Europe. Catholics are upset that England is Protestant and that it has anti-Catholic laws in force. The Protestants (including a large number of the English and Scottish citizens) feel that the Anglican church resembles the Catholic church too closely (with the same trappings, similar theology, etc) and that King Charles is too soft on Catholicism.
The Hapsburg family, who have been a major force in the politics of the Holy Roman Empire for hundreds of years, have been losing power. In 1581 the Netherlands became independent of the Empire, and is now a major mercantile power (and is thoroughly Protestant). The Holy Roman Empire has been ravaged by war since 1618. The Hapsburg Catholics (including the current Emperor, Ferdinand II, former Archduke of Styria, King of Bohemia and King of Hungary) have been fighting the Protestants. At this point, the war could go either way. France, despite being a Catholic nation, has made moves to support the Protestants because of a traditional enmity between the French Bourbon Kings and the Hapsburg Emperors.
King Phillip IV of Spain has ruled for 11 years. He has kept to a non-aggression treaty with France signed five years ago with the French First Minister, Cardinal Richelieu. The Moors have some truces with Spain, which have allowed the Moor and Spaniard to co-exist. The Spanish and Portuguese remain Catholic. The Spanish and the English have begun settling some of their differences, though the English defeated the Spanish armada recently enough that Spain would clearly like an opportunity to show up the English.
The King of the Polish-Lithuanian Union -- Zygmunt Vasa III -- is an elderly man, and near death. The electors in Lithuania and Poland are preparing themselves to choose a successor. The past three Kings of the Union have been chosen from outside the Union (Zygmunt Vasa is a Swede, before him a Hungarian ruled, and before him a Frenchman), in order to keep the King from favoring one or the other parts of the Union.
Galileo's work on "Terrestrial Double Motion" has been recently published, despite the prohibition on any further publications placed on him by the Catholic Church fifteen years ago. Rembrandt, Rubens, and Valazquez are well-respected artists. The French have allowed public advertising -- billboards and placards -- for the past two years in urban areas. The English playwright, Shakespeare, died within the past 20 years, but the first folio of his plays has been available for 9 years and the second folio has just been published within the past two months. Francis Bacon's works are well known.
The Church maintains strict laws against using any kind of force or coercion against Jews, because they are Jesus' people and must be allowed to convert by choice. As such, having never been subject to feudal society, the Jews were the first "middle class." However, anti-Semitism is high, and many Christians ignore the teachings of their Pope and their Church.
A timeline of the past 50 years is available.
This game is a Subterranean Homesick Games production.