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The Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea, also more simply known as Urcea, is a Procuratorial Monarchy in Levantia. It occupies a position in the southern half of Levantia, and it neighbors, among others, Kuhlfros to the north. It was a major part of the Holy Levantine Empire and its history is shaped by that institution. The Kingdom's position has historically been between the River Levant and the Sea of Odoneru, though its modern borders includes territories beyond both of its "natural borders", a concept that developed in the 17th century.
Urcea has, since its inception, been a very highly developed and influential nation with focuses on its Catholic faith and traditionalism. Its foreign policy focus primarily relies on maintaining balanced hegemony over Levantia and growing its colonial empire abroad, but historically had a fccus on maintaining the integrity of the Empire.
Urceans enjoy one of the world's largest and healthiest economies, with a per capita income of approximately $43,000 annually and with burgeoning middle and upper classes. The nation and its government are officially Catholic, and much of the nation's policy decision-making revolves around distributist and Catholic social principles, including subsidiarity. The Catholic faith proves to be one of the defining characteristics of the country; the great Kiravian scholar P. G. W. Gelema once stated that "if Caphiria is an army with a state, than it should very much be said Urcea is a Church with a state".
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 2.1 Early History
- 2.2 St. Julius I
- 2.3 Archduchy Period
- 2.4 Emergence of the Kingdom
- 2.5 Royal Dynasty of Julio-Yustona and Interregnum
- 2.6 Saint's War
- 2.7 de Weluta Victorious and Reformation
- 2.8 Julio-Angloise and War of Religion
- 2.9 de Weluta Restored and Nascent Imperial Dominance
- 2.10 Industrial Revolution, Great Bull, and Decline
- 2.11 Red Interregna and House Abbannach
- 2.12 Second Restoration Era
- 2.13 21st Century
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government and Politics
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Culture and Society
- 7 Education
- 8 Infrastructure
- 9 Economy
- 10 Military
- 11 See Also
The word Urcea is derived from the name of the river Urce, whose origins remain a subject of scholarly debate - many suggest the name is a derivative of a much earlier Latinic term, originating perhaps as early as circa 1000 BC. Regardless, the city of Urceopolis, or the city of the river Urce, was established roughly 887 BC, establishing prevalent use of the river's name by that period. By the late seventh century and early eighth century AD, the term "Urcean" ("Urciona", natively), describing somebody living near the Urce river, was well established in the local lexicon, and was oftentimes used as an epithet, i.e. "Julius the Urcean", regarding someone who lived in the geographical proximity of the river. The term eventually evolved from someone living on the river to somebody living in the southern portions of the Holy Levantine Empire.
Further Information: Great Levantia
The history of Urcea stretches back as an outgrowth of both the early Latinic civilization as well as out of Great Levantia but definitively through the context of the growth of the Holy Levantine Empire. The river valley embracing the River Urce was almost entirely populated by peoples speaking a mixture of Latin and Gaelic by the middle of the 7th century. Particularly, following the protracted collapse of the central authority in the region with the decline of Great Levantia and its successors, a band of competing clans dominated the river valley. These valley clans were primarily Gaelic in nature and eventually constructed series of fortified mansions that would later become castles, creating a chaotic political situation that prevented coalescence of power by any one individual or family in the Urce Valley region.
The City of Urceopolis had been the seat of power in Great Levantia and remained relevant in Levantine geopolitics since its collapse, forming the seat of several provincial and petty kingdoms until the formation of the Duchy of Urceopolis in 643 AD, consisting of the City, its hinterlands, and a sizable portion of the Urce river valley. The City itself had a strong concentration of population in the Pale and along the Urce River due to the cessation of aqueduct functions, but large portions of the city lay abandoned and crumbling from the former heights of the city's glory as center of Great Levantia. Disease and poor sanitation was also particularly widespread in the city throughout the period as the running water had ceased. Powerful families and local magnates seized some of these areas and established, using the stone of ruins, fortified mansions of their own, establishing pseudo-fiefdoms within the city walls themselves. These magnates would often impose tolls on travelers and pilgrims entering the city.
Unlike later offices, this Duchy was initially elective between several of the most powerful families and clans within the city, particularly the clans Nerones and Brutones, whose pedigree extended back far enough to have been able to boast of Consuls of Great Levantia among their number. The Duke would very rarely take a stand against the magnates unless they were rivals; the lawlessness of the Duke's allies usually continued unabated. The most successful Duke of this proto-Urcean state was perhaps Tiberius II Nerones, who had managed to subdue many of the local magnates both in the city and the country, consolidating his power. His childless death in 690, however, meant that his newfound patrimony was again split among several relatives, though this consolidation of power in the Duchy for the Nerones family and the practical elimination of the Brutones in this period paved the way for a later ruler to consolidate the Duchy.
During the Duchy period, Urceopolis constantly feuded with Yustona and Gallawa, two of the other large polities on its border, though the lands of Urceopolis and Yustona formed the backbone of the “Latin League”, a coalition of several polities and city-states aimed at mutual defense against the Kingdom of Sudlanda. Beginning ca. 690, Gallawa united the other petty Gael kingdoms into one sprawling empire. It was in this geopolitical context that St. Julius I was elected Duke of Urceopolis.
St. Julius I
St. Julius I was not elected from a prestigious family but rather based on his steady command and fighting prowess against the Sudlandish as well as other eastern non-Christian raiders as part of a Latin League army. By his ascension in 749 AD, Urceopolis had lost a substantial amount of land to the northeast to Gallawa. Through his early reign, the two polities cooperated in wars against Levantine pagans and the various victories brought the new Duke not only prestige but loot recovered from the raiders as well. Forming a strong relationship with the Pope and marrying the daughter of the most powerful Nerones magnate in the city, Duke Julius ultimately outmaneuvered his rivals and assumed near-total control over the city by 753 AD and had subdued most of the river magnates by 755. It was during this period that the future Saint established several monasteries in the city but especially in the Urce Valley that would later form the basis for great monastic estates that would become the nucleus of the suburban cities of Urceopolis.
Gallawa ultimately set its eyes on the “crown jewel of Levantia”, Urceopolis, beginning their march against it in 756 AD. The Duke prepared the defenses of the city as several of the noble families fled or fought the Gaels in losing pitched battles along the river, and many local magnates were brought to heel while many others saw their castles destroyed and their patrimony shattered. As Gallawa approached by 759, the Duke was approached by the Pope, who advised that, rather than fight, the Duke should submit. Julius would later write that he found himself “greatly troubled, but St. Joseph appeared in a dream”, stating that Duke Julius should “neither fight nor flee like the Holy Family to Egypt, but rather submit to the men before you, for they are good Christian men; Our Divine Savior will not permit suffering to befall you or your city”.
The next day, Julius told the Pope of this then departed the city towards the siege camp of the King of Gallawa, a man named Conchobar. Julius met Conchobar in the field between the camp and the city, and to the latter’s surprise, Julius bent the knee and submitted himself to Conchobar as his subject. The King of Gallawa embraced Julius and, according to legend, told Julius of a vision of St. Joseph he had received that Urceopolis would be part of a great Christian Empire without so much as a drop of blood being shed. King Conchobar entered the city then asked Julius to marshal his forces and march on Yustona, which fell to the combined armies in the span of a month. In exchange for his loyalty, Conchobar granted Julius the title of Archduke of Urceopolis and also granted the new Grand Duchy of Yustona to Julius’s brother, Aedanicus. Later, in 761, Conchobar was crowned Emperor of Levantia in Urceopolis by the Pope, forming the Levantine Empire. St. Julius I remained a loyal vassal of the Emperor and continued to defend the Imperial frontier against pagans, eventually working to convert large groups later in life. Julius died in 800 AD and was canonized by the Church in 1097, forming an important basis for the arguments that eventually lead to the issuance of the Golden Bull of 1098, in favor of the Saint’s descendants.
As Archduke, Julius introduced multiple reforms, most notably the integration of Gaelic and several forms of the bastardized hybrids of Gaelic and Latin as government languages of the Archduchy, changes that eventually lead to the official adoption of Abciwidar as the official language of state and commerce by the Kingdom of Urcea several hundred years later.
Though the Conine Dynasty established the Imperial capital in the city of Corcra, Urceopolis remained the largest city in the Empire and the most powerful vassal the Emperor could call on. This would occasionally lead to friction between the Archdukes and the Emperor; the Julii dynasty was briefly deposed following a failed rebellion and the death of Archduke Conchobar in 865, leading to a local noble elected by the the city’s leading families upon the request of the Emperor that year. The noble, Aedanicus, was soon deposed by the Julii dynasty and the Emperor, who needed their support, did nothing. No other direct conflict between the Archdukes and the Emperor would further, as the symbiotic relationship between Urceopolis and Corcra became established.
The Empire’s division between those of the Conine line and eventual disintegration in 917 AD left the Archdukes owing their allegiance to the Southern Kingdom of the Levantines, in which the Archdukes found themselves to be on par with the King in terms of power, leading to a troubled relationship between the two for the entirety of the Kingdom’s existence. This was complicated by the dynastic situation. In 922, the last male-line heir of St. Julius, Cumhachtabilis, died without issue. The closest heir would be Seán, the Grand Duke of Yustona. The King viewed this to be unacceptable as the merge of these two realms would render him impotent, and the War of the Urceopolitan Succession between the House Yustona (including loyalists in the vacant Archduchy) and the King ensued. In the end, Seán triumphed and was crowned Archduke of Urceopolis and also Mayor of the Palace, elevating House Yustona to the true power in the Kingdom. Seán would marry his eldest son to a bride from the Julian line, which would eventually bear Niall of House Julio-Yustona. Seán died in 930; he was succeeded by his son Seán II, who was deathly ill at the time of his assent. Upon his death, his brother Niall seized the Throne on the basis that the young Niall was too weak to rule. The King, however, would intervene and the elder Niall was killed on the battlefield, allowing the 7-year old Niall of House Julio-Yustona to become Archduke and Grand Duke. The King believed that a young heir would allow the Conine dynasty to reclaim power within the Kingdom, though his death and succession of his own young son meant that they could not consolidate power in time.
In 965, the Eastern King of the Levantines, a man named Leo, of some Latin and German extraction, deposed the Conine King in the Southern Kingdom with the considerable assistance of the Archduke of Urceopolis, who invited his invasion. The Pope crowned Leo as Emperor in 972, reforming the Levantine Empire, though permanently without the Western Kingdom of the Levantines. The Leonine Dynasty proved short lived, and its failure to produce an heir lead to near-open revolt. The Archduke of Urceopolis at the time, Julius III, joined the rebelling factions, eventually winning and securing that the Emperor would be elected by the most powerful or worthy vassals of the Empire. Julius Secures the Imperial Liberties, a romantic painting of the Archduke forcing the Imperial regent to sign a charter (the Pragmatic Sanction of 997) following the regent’s defeat on the field, became an iconic rallying symbol for Urcean national identity within the Empire in the 19th century. Archduke Julius III’s son, Adrian IV, became Archduke and Grand Duke in 1002, and he himself was elected Emperor in 1014, becoming Emperor Adrian II, the first of several of the family of St. Julius to become Emperor. He reigned until 1036.
Emergence of the Kingdom
By the 11th century, the Holy Levantine Empire had already approached most of the extent understood today to be part of the Empire; the Leonine Dynasty had conquered the northern tip of Levantia, an area that had eluded central authority for nearly a millenia and an area commonly known as Ultramurus, that is, “beyond the wall”, referring to the walls constructed by Great Levantia to signify their northern borders. Within the Empire, the position of the Archduchy-Grand Duchy continued to grow, acquiring several lands and titles outside the traditional geographic boundaries of Urceopolis-Yustona, particularly over Cape Aedan and down into the modern province of Callan but also as far north as the city of Killea. These lands were all established under the Kingdom of Latium in 1043, which encompassed, for the most part, the southern half of the Empire; the Kingdom of Culfra encompassed the north. Additionally, the Golden Bull of 1043 also set the amount of electors at 9; neither Yustona nor Urceopolis were granted the electoral dignity as it was thought to be a way to balance its power relative to the rest of the Empire. This lead to a 100-year quest on the part of the Julio-Yustona Dynasty to acquire a vote for Emperor, either by a chance to the law or by inheritance.
In the 1090s, the Imperial Throne had fallen to the relatively weak, Hikinid Dynasty, which controlled Corcra and a small Duchy in Latium. The Kingdom of Culfra began to openly discuss separating from the Empire altogether or deposing the Collegial Electorate in favor of a hereditary northern King, and by 1096 began to march for Corcra. The Archduke-Grand Duke of Urceopolis, Riordan, pledged neutrality, which would have weakened the Imperial cause to the point in which a dissolution of the Empire could have plausibly occurred. The Emperor, Leo II Hikinid, citing the recent canonization of St. Julius I and the considerable lands and titles his successors had acquired, offered Riordan a Kingship of his own, dividing all of the Kingdom of Latium west of the River Levant to be part of the Kingdom of Urcea, in exchange for his support. Riordan accepted, and Emperor Leo issued the Golden Bull of 1098, which created the Kingdom and consolidated all of Riordan’s holdings under him and compelling the other vassals in the region to be subservient to him. With the support of Urcea, the Imperial faction won the war. Riordan I (adopting new regnal numering) styled himself Apostolic King in light of his holy ancestor, and the title remained from that point onwards.
Royal Dynasty of Julio-Yustona and Interregnum
The Kingdom remained stable during the reign of the early Kings, providing an important source of manpower for the Imperial Army and an equally important "check" on Imperial power, contributing to emerging constitutional precedent for a limited role of the Emperor in the individual affairs of the Princes of the Empire. The borders of the Kingdom remained stable under this period as well; the Kings valued the then-status quo position of the realm within the Empire, though some small gains were made - most notably extending the realm south to the Callan River and putting the Kingdom in conflict with the Duke-Elector of Canaery. Aside from the final two Kings, the Julio-Yustona Dynasty was notable among contemporaries for their progeny; Aedanicus II had fourteen children, and his son, Niall I, managed six. The reign of Niall I proved to be the high water mark for the dynasty; his predecessors had successfully maneuvered for Niall to have a direct claim on the Electorate of Canaery, which he won as spoils in 1144 for siding with the Emperor against several rebelling vassals lead by the previous Elector of Canaery. Niall was the first King-Elector of Urcea, though for the next several hundred years, the Kingdom and the Electorate would be administered as separate realms with a common ruler.
Niall's two sons that survived infancy both inherited the Kingdom; the 14-year old Riordan III reigned for a period slightly longer than three months before taking ill and dying, passing the throne to his ten year brother, who was crowned Niall II in 1147. Niall reigned for five and a half years before falling from his horse during training and dying soon after. Niall II's death sparked a succession crisis that resulted in a six year interregnum and succession crisis within the Kingdom, beginning in 1153. During this period, there were several claimants to the Throne, most distant male descendants of King Aedanicus II or female line claimants descended from Niall II, though his daughters were barred from inheritance by Imperial law. Near the end of the Interregnum, Seán Aleckán, one of the most distinguished military leaders in Urcea and in the Empire, announced his claim, having descended directly from St. Julius I in the female line, thus sharing no direct relation with any previous King. The claim was justified partially by the text of the Golden Bull of 1098, in which the Kingdom was entrusted to the "relational descendants of the great Saint, Julius, the Archduke", which the Aleckán faction claimed gave them a better claim as "descendant". Seán Aleckán subsequently received the support of the Emperor, defeating the other claimants, and was crowned King Seán I on January 1st, 1159, beginning the Julio-Aleckán dynasty, which would seat several Kings in the Julian Palace in the next two centuries.
Seán's reign primarily involved solidifying his own position on the Throne, particularly isolating or exiling other potential claimants as well as putting down a revolt of local nobles in the newly acquired Electorate of Canaery, which had been in open revolt during the Interregnum. His son, Seán II, began Urcea's first forays in foreign affairs, sending small armies to Ixnay to aid in the conflicts of various Catholic powers. Seán II's reign also involved complex long-distance trade missions to Crona, beginning in 1201 and continued by his successors. Seán II's successor Niall III took the Throne in 1202 and was the first of the Kings of Urcea to be elected as Emperor of the Levantines, though Archduke Adrian was elected in 1002 to that position. Niall, who reigned as Emperor Niall I, oversaw a successful campaign to restore the integrity of the Empire, fully utilizing the strength of the Kingdom to disinherit and imprison seditious Imperial vassals, some lands of which were then appropriated to the Kingdom. Emperor Niall I also issued the Golden Bull of 1207, which expanded the Electorate from 9 to 18, adding 9 Bishop-Electors, as a show of magnanimity to the Church. Niall often feuded with the local magnates in the Kingdom and was unpopular among several of the vassals of the Empire. Upon his death in 1214, his son Donnchad was passed over in favor of a distant descendant of the Julio-Yustona King Aedanicus II named Cónn of Holmfilth, a powerful Count Palatine from the northern heartlands of the Kingdom. Crowned King Constantine I later in 1214, this succession became the opening events of the multi-generational dynastic Saint's War, which would last nearly 200 years.
More Information: Saint's War
The ascension of Constantine to the Throne lead to the relatively non-noteworthy and peaceful rule of the House of Cónn for nearly forty years, primarily remembered for a series of construction programs to build and fortify trading routes and trail throughout the ever expanding Kingdom, including increased legal conformity of the Electorate of Canaery with the rest of the Kingdom, though full legal integration was not achieved for many centuries. The reign of Aedanicus III, called "the mad" in the latter years of his rule due to his increasing senility, came to an end in 1253 after 22 years as Donnchad, the son of King Niall III, returned from exile to claim the Throne, outmaneuvering the Cónn loyalists (Aedanicus III was physically and mentally unfit to lead his armies) and seizing Urceopolis on July 1st, 1253, being crowned the same day. In an attempt to end the dynastic feud, Donnchad I allowed the senile Aedanicus III to live unmolested in retirement in a small wing of the Julian Palace, where he died without incident in 1257. Aedanicus III's son, the defeated Prince James, saw the new King's act as one of kindness and pledged loyalty to him and disavowed his claim to the Throne.
The peace was not to last, however; Donnchad was succeeded by his quarrelsome son Riordan IV, who befriended Prince James and relied on Cónn support to defeat his domestic rivals among the nobility, including some Julio-Aleckán loyalists. Riordan's reign was primarily characterized by his attempts to centralize Royal authority and his alliance with the Cónns gave him great utility in this, though he eventually waged civil war as some of the nobles rose up against him in arms. On his death in 1275 due to battle wounds, Riordan IV controversially named the Prince James as his successor, who took the Throne on April 3rd, 1275. The Julio-Aleckán faction - most of whom were already in arms against Riordan - disputed the succession by law, claiming that James was not only ineligible to succeed due to Riordan's brother Niall having a better claim, but also due to his having renounced the Throne during the reign of Donnchad I. James I managed to rally the Royal Army and defeat the Noble forces, who sought a Royal charter of some kind, and managed to secure his place on the Throne for the next 37 years.
James's reign was mostly consumed by an effort to purge, wherever possible, potential Julio-Aleckán claimants and their descendants, though James could not, himself, produce an heir, for which he was the target of both legal alarm and satirical attacks by the Aleckán faction. James's primary accusation by his critics was that he was a closeted atheist anarchist looking to destroy the country by a lack of legal heirs, and that he was potentially a homosexual. Upon James's death without children in 1312, the lead Julio-Aleckán heir, Louis, the nephew of Riordan IV through his father Niall, defeated Cónn forces outside Urceopolis and was crowned King five days later on February 22nd, 1312 before James I's nephew, also named James, could muster enough forces to push his claim by force. Louis, the last direct Julio-Aleckán King, reigned for 18 years between 1312 and 1330, a time which was primarily spent fighting a fierce civil war against James Cónn and his allies. Louis was eventually killed in single combat by James at the Battle of Hollyhead, allowing the latter to be crowned in Urceopolis on January 22nd, 1330, twenty days after the battle. Like James I, James II spent his reign executing a series of bloody purges against the Julio-Aleckán family and their suspected heirs, though he was much more successful than his predecessor. Like his predecessor, however, James II died childless and plunged the Kingdom into the Great Interregnum, the final phase of the Saint's War. Unlike the inconsistent dynastic feuding that characterized the first 125 years of the conflict, the Great Interregnum brought 63 years of civil war and national division.
During the Great Interregnum, the Cónn faction held the territory of the Archduchy of Urceopolis and other western portions of the Kingdom, though not the city of Urceopolis itself; the burghers and local landed nobility revolted and established the Pope as the temporal ruler of the city and the surrounding areas so as to prevent violence befalling the city as had happened previously during the Saint's War, an arrangement which was said would end upon the final conclusion of the conflict. The House of Cónn established its court south of Urceopolis in the newly constructed Castle (and eventual city) of Ardricampus, which took its name ("King's Fort"), from the period. The Julio-Aleckán faction ruled over the Grand Duchy of Yustona and the Electorate of Canaery, ruling from the city of Cana.
The death of the last direct male Julio-Aleckán heir in battle in 1392 seemed to indicate that the Cónn faction was about to emerge victorious. However, the supporters of the Aleckán cause produced one of their own generals - an indirect heir named Louis from House de Weluta, who descended from King Louis I via his daughter. The House de Weluta took their name from a large castle not far from Urceopolis called Castle Welute that the family had acquired in the early 1300s. The de Welutas - also known as the Welutians or the Velucians - originally hailed from the eastern highlands and maintained considerable connections there. Louis de Weluta rallied the Aleckán faction and raised a large number of highlanders to his banner, rejuvenating the Aleckán cause. Within a decade, enlisting the support of forces from Angla, Louis de Weluta eventually issued a final defeat to the Cónn faction at the Battle of Glens Falls in 1401 and subsequent successfully besieged of the Castle of Ardricampus in early August 1402. Facing defeat, the Cónn claimant - the Archduke Aedanicus of Cónn - threw himself from the walls of the fortress, committing suicide. Rather than slaughter the remaining members of the family, Louis de Weluta married Aedanicus's only daughter Eileen and sent the rest of the family into exile in Angla, where per agreement some of them would marry into the Royal family there. The de Weluta army then marched on Urceopolis, which opened its gates to him, and Louis was crowned personally by the Pope on September 14 1402, ending the Saint's War and Great Interregnum definitively.
de Weluta Victorious and Reformation
King Louis II inherited a country torn by decades of division and armed conflict and the inattention clearly showed: the great plains to the east of Urceopolis that once served as the breadbasket of the continent were wastelands and the site of frequent battle, Urcean ports were treated with scorn by traders globally due to the prevalence of conflict-based piracy, and the once mighty road system built by Great Levantia found itself largely destroyed from years of overuse and neglect. Louis, called the "barracks King" both for his popularity among soldiers but also for his humble roots (relative for a King) prior to taking the Throne, spent a considerable part of his 29-year reign attempting to rebuild the country figuratively and literally. New aqueducts were constructed for the first time in nearly a millennia to irrigate the abandoned fields and support the cities and the King invited great scholars from across Christendom to engage in discussion about what might today be considered a kind of very primitive proto-economics. Among the series of reforms implemented, King Louis II most famously intentionally debased the currency to help farmers and merchants cancel debts from the war they couldn't repay. Despite the considerable gamble, records seem to indicate the move worked and the Urcean economy was in considerably better state upon Louis's death in 1431 than it was when he came to the throne some 29 years earlier.
House de Weluta maintained a fairly robust succession in the 15th century and enjoyed considerable support from the landed gentry, the peasantry, and the clergy as they enthusiastically attempted to mend the wounds of the Saint's War with positive result. By the first year of the reign of King Niall IV (1456-1482), the country's population had recovered to its pre-war levels, and a robust building program began that would continue under the next three de Weluta Kings that would include a new system of roads, cleared trade routes, and a modernized series of defenses and fortresses. The Renaissance would also make its way to Urcea in this time, inaugurating what scholars have called the golden age of Urcean culture, beginning in the 15th century and continuing on through the Baroque period. Niall IV's reign also saw considerable re-involvement in the affairs of the Empire and Urcea's other neighbors, including securing an alliance with the Kings of Angla with the marriage of one of his son's, Julius, to a daughter of the King of Angla, himself a distant Cónn descendant. This alliance would form the cadet branch of Julio-Angloise that would later rise to considerable prominence in Urcea and play a critical role in the history of Urcea and the Holy Levantine Empire.
Despite Niall IV's considerable progeny, his descendants would have problems with inheritance. His successor, Constantine II, died after less than a year on the Throne, passing it to his brother Leo I. Leo would manage just two sons, the eventual King James III and his sickly and weak brother Aedanicus who many scholars believe had considerable developmental disorders but nonetheless was able to reproduce, while James had considerable difficulty doing so.
James III ruled during the initial outbreak of the Protestant Reformation in 1517 and, although he initially expressed interest and toleration, eventually decided to enforce religious unity and ban Protestant proselytism after the Pope promulgated Exsurge Domine in 1520. The Reformation created a relatively small Protestant minority mostly in the peripheries of the country. King James spent the latter twenty years of his long reign (1492-1546) feuding with local lords and the country's neighbors, while breaking the country's alliance with the King of Angla as the latter became Protestant and the subject of an Imperial invasion. James died in April of 1546 without an heir starting a minor interregnum. There was considerable dispute whether or not Aedanicus would or could ascend to the Throne or whether or not some other claimant, like a Catholic descendant of Niall IV or even the Protestant Riordan Julio-Angloise should take his place. Considerable fighting between local factions broke out until Riordan himself seized Urceopolis and the Throne in October of 1546.
Julio-Angloise and War of Religion
Though Riordan V (1546-1557), first King of the House of Julio-Angloise and a Protestant, initially pledged that he would issue an edict of toleration, the Crown soon began to interfere in the functions of the Church and attempted to repossess the monastic lands in the Archduchy of Urceopolis. The Pope fled Urceopolis for Corcra and the persecution of the Church began in 1548. The Catholic landed gentry and a large coalition of Barons rallied together to form the Catholic League and declared their intention to overthrow King Riordan V in favor of Prince Aedanicus, who remained at Castle Welute north of Urceopolis. Although the conflict initially took form as a dynastic dispute, soon sectarian fighting began and each side began wanton atrocities. Many villages and towns founded during the reign of Great Levantia were destroyed and not resettled, providing evidence to archaeologists how the typical Urcean of this time lived. The rebellion grew into the Urcean War of Religion with the Protestant, Royalist forces controlling the Urce River Valley and the Catholic rebels controlling the countryside. Riordan spent most of his reign prosecuting the war, and the Royalist forces experienced a considerable setback at the Battle of Clada in 1554, forcing the King to look to Protestant neighbors and allies such as Rexheim for assistance, drawing Urcea into the Protestant Union. With the destruction of the Kingdom of Angla earlier that year, the Union planned to march on Corcra and establish Protestantism as a legal religion in the Empire alongside Catholicism. The Great Confessional War began with Urcea divided between the Catholic Holy League and the Protestant Union, and the Urcean War of Religion was largely subsumed into the greater conflict.
Riordan V died in 1557 and was succeeded by his Protestant son Donnchad III, who was considered to be an exceptionally more talented commander than his father. Donnchad managed to break a Catholic siege of Urceopolis and maneuvered north to Castle Welute. Rather than besiege the Catholic stronghold, Donnchad raided the fortress and took Prince Aedanicus, the Catholic heir and son of King Leo I, and brought him back to Urceopolis. There, in 1560, he was drawn and quartered and his head was mounted high in the Pale for the city to see, with the remaining parts sent to various rebel leaders. Next, Donnchad launched a campaign to the southwest to break out of the Urce valley and link up with Protestant forces in Rexheim, which he did successfully. By 1562 Donnchad defeated the Holy League at numerous battles in southern Urcea and Rexheim and the combined forces began to besiege the city of Cana.
Leo de Weluta, eldest son of Prince Aedanicus who had escaped to Corcra in 1560, leading a small force comprised mostly of Catholic troops from Ultmar given to him by the Emperor, launched a surprise attack on the city of Julianum in the northeast of the country and took the mostly-Catholic city, overcoming the small Royalist garrison. Soon, Leo began to call upon the avowedly Catholic Ionian Highlanders, who viewed "Auld Royal Leo" as their King, to flock to his banner, which they did. With the victory, the Pope proclaimed in 1563 that Leo was rightful heir to the Kingdom and gave him a Papal grant of the Kingdom stating as such, making Leo the de facto leader of Catholic Urcean forces. Reorganizing the shattered rebel forces and consolidating the Imperial-given forces, the Ionians, and the rebels into a new army, Leo began a march southwest to Urceopolis, besieging Protestant-aligned cities as he made his way down the river valley. The Protestant King Donnchad and his Rexheish allies had to abandon the siege of Cana and march the two armies northeast. Leo and Donnchad's armies met for the first time in the northeastern plateau and engaged in a series of skirmishes for a year. Donnchad was continuously assured that a Protestant offensive from the Electorates of Lucarnia and Hollona would relieve him and attack the Imperial army from the rear, and continued to draw back his army in a series of bloody retreats in order to draw the Catholic forces in for a fight in which the allied armies would be able to strategically entrap the Imperial army. No reinforcements came, and Donnchad made the decision to continue the retreat on to Urceopolis in an attempt to draw the Catholic army into a siege of the well-defended city and potentially destroy them by sallying the Protestant forces forth. Leo managed to flank Donnchad with a detachment mostly comprised of cavalry and light infantry, positioning troops between Donnchad and Urceopolis, forcing the Protestant armies to stand and fight near Drumfree. At the Battle of Drumfree, which occurred on April 9th, 1565, both sides seemed deadlocked for nearly eight hours of fighting before Donnchad was mortally wounded by a primitive form of grapeshot, leading to the Protestant forces fleeing. Donnchad, abandoned by his troops, was then speared hundreds of times and his mangled corpse thrown into a ditch.
Using his cavalry, Leo trapped and annihilated the Protestant armies the next day, clearing the way for him to Urceopolis. Marching towards the city and then establishing camp outside the city, he felt himself unworthy to enter first, and sent for the Pope. The Pope and Leo entered the city on May 14th, 1565 at which point the Pope crowned Leo as King Leo II, ending the War of Religion and sending the Great Confessional War into its second phase as well as restoring the House de Weluta to the Throne. Following his coronation, the new King sent for the remains of his father and interred them at the royal crypt.
de Weluta Restored and Nascent Imperial Dominance
Further Information: War of the Caroline Succession
Having defeated the Julio-Angloise and with only a few Protestant partisans left in Urcea, King Leo II now had relatively free reign to prosecute the Great Confessional War on behalf of the Holy League, squarely putting the Protestant Union on the defensive. After defeating a small band of Julio-Angloise rebels south of Justonium, Leo marched the Imperial Army south and besieged Rexha by the end of 1565. The well-fortified city held out until 1567 when the Imperial Army successfully breached the walls after an extended cannon barrage. The Kingdom of Rexheim soon suffered total collapse and Imperial occupation, ending the Southern Levantine theater of the war, with the remaining campaigns being largely siege-based against Protestant cities in northern Latium and Ultmar. King Leo II spent 1568-1570 in Urcea restoring the position of the Church, rebuilding monasteries, restoring icons, and preparing the army for another campaign, which he launched into Latium in 1571. Upon death of the Emperor in 1572, the Electors met and chose Leo as Emperor, putting the entire Holy League army under his command. He spent the next three years prosecuting the war until the Holy League's final victory in 1575, after twenty years of fighting. Leo showed no mercy and expelled all Protestant landholders from the Empire, enforced the legal status of the Catholic Church, enforced several of the doctrines of the Counter-Reformation, redistributed former Protestant lands, and strengthened the Inquisition in Levantia. Urcea, from the conflict, gained considerably; the Kingdom of Rexheim was dissolved and nearly all of her lands given to Urcea, and some territory on the eastern border was also gained.
King Leo II reigned until 1597 and spent the remaining 22 years of his life after 1575 restoring unity in Urcea, strengthening the Church, and attending to Imperial affairs, particularly the nuances and specifics of the victory terms and the division of land. His successors in the 17th century took part in the spoils and successively attempted to expand the country's eastern border, with several successful wars bringing neighboring duchies and counties to heel. It was also during this time the Crown began to devise schemes to acquire the Grand Duchy of Carolina, a polity to the north, though such attempts would not come to fruition in the 17th century. The profile of Urcea in the Empire continued to rise under Leo's successors, greatly unified and strengthened by the victory of the War of Religion and with a powerful southern Rexheim no longer extant to contain Urcea. The 17th Century, besides the continuing expansion, was a time of something of a second Renaissance in Urcea as the baroque period took off and the Crown focused on making internal improvements. The Julian Palace was rebuilt at this time and the Crown spent lavishly on infrastructure improvements as well as rebuilding several palaces and Churches. The period also saw two "Years of Three Kings" - 1627 and 1656.
In 1702, King Riordan VII was elected Emperor Riordan I, beginning a string of five consecutive Kings who would be elected Emperor and also an increasing focus on the affairs of the Empire, which would dominate the country's foreign policy in the 18th century.
Industrial Revolution, Great Bull, and Decline
Red Interregna and House Abbannach
Second Restoration Era
Further Information: Urcean Bush War
Urcea occupies a position roughly constituting the southwestern third of Levantia displays a broad array of geographical and geological diversity owing to the more than thousand-mile length between the Northern and Southern ends of the country, ranging from the largely flat temperate riverine areas that dominate the majority of the country to the Ionian highlands in the east, to the jungles of Sudlanda in the south. Urcea proper, that is, the territory of the Apostolic Kingdom on the Levantine mainland as well as Halfway, has a total area of 1,980,891.54 mi², all of which is divided into either a Province, Royal Hold, or State. This figure does not include any overseas territories the Kingdom may possess.
The demographic and political center of the country is in the northern half of the country, particularly in the Urce River Valley, culminating with the political, cultural, and economic capital of the country, Urceopolis, though significant economic weight exists elsewhere, particularly on the coast of the Sea of Odoneru extending from the city of Beldra to the border with Kistan. This region is sometimes called the "Odoneru Megalopolis" and is, along with Urceopolis and Burgundie, one of the primary ways in which imports via maritime trade enter Levantia. The modern industrial manufacturing heartland of Urcea has emerged in the Ionia-Novaterra-Glenfort region, referred to as the "Upper Urce Valley" as the old manufacturing center around Urceopolis and in the "Lower Valley" has switched to primarily to a service economy.
The fastest growing region in the country is the Cape Aedan and Callan area which was historically border swamp lands of Urcea proper, though due to developments in agricultural technology these previously difficult areas have increased their share of agriculture, making them largely the new agricultural heart of the country beginning in the mid-20th century. The eastern highlands have shifted to a largely urbanized economy based on large deposits of recently discovered shale oil and natural gas beneath the ground, creating a large hydrofracking sector in the area. The Bay of Cana, which embraces the provinces of Cape Aedan and Callan as well as the Electorate of Canaery has also yielded large offshore oil deposits discovered at the end of the 20th century.
The Ioni mountains generally serve to denote the delineation between Urcea proper and the rest of Levantia, while the Cana Bay and North Callan River divide the country into the commonly understood "North" and "South".
Ecology and Climate
Government and Politics
Further Information: Procuratorial Monarchy
The government of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea could be said to be the result of half-hearted 19th century reforms, and extended, if sometimes vestigial, institutions of the Catholic Church. Through it all, the system employed in Urcea is a type of dual federalist hierarchy that, inherently, has ideological themes of subsidiarity and Royal prerogative “baked in”, so to speak. At all levels of state, the Apostolic King-Elector is the central organizing Constitutional basis for authority, and all who live in the Kingdom are legally understood to be “subjects”, rather than “citizens”, though the concept applies equally and the terminology is used interchangeably. The system by which the Apostolic King is the supreme authority and acts as an executive but is constrained otherwise by certain benevolent traditions, constitutional precedent, and religious doctrines is known as Procuratorial Monarchy, a form of governance originating in Urcea, though the core pieces of Catholic social teaching have been incorporated into other types of government throughout the world.
The country employs a type of fusion legal system that has been trending more towards the side of common law since the turn of the 20th century; Royal Proclamations, Decrees, and Bulls form the basis of a majority of standing statute in the Kingdom, though the Royal Courts have been given increasing liberties to interpret and apply those, creating law-by-precedent throughout the Kingdom. Local governments, provinces, and the semi-autonomous regions have home rule ability to pass their own legislation, which forms the remainder of the body of statutes within the country. Existing somewhere between these is the rule making authority of the various Royal departments (part of the Concilium Purpaidá), who not only issue their own rules and regulations but ensure a uniform legal-economic system throughout the country.
Though there is no national legislature, organized national political parties exist and contest the elections that do occur throughout the country, particularly for the Concilium Daoni but also for the local and provincial elections. The two largest parties are the Conservative and Union Party and the National Social Union, though other smaller parties such as the Julian Party and the Democratic Labor Party do hold office throughout the country. The Concilium Purpaidá, which is non-partisan, traditionally consists of an eclectic mix of members from the two largest parties depending on the individual member's beliefs relative to those of the King.
The Apostolic King of Urcea serves as Head of State and is the unifying legal basis for the country as a whole and the National Government in particular. Legally speaking, the provinces owe their allegiance to him as King, in Urceopolis as Archduke, in Yustona as Grand Duke, in Canaery as Prince-Elector, and the autonomous states as Prince-Sovereign, though in practical terms he is hailed as Apostolic King in all his realms. The Apostolic Kingdom, however, is not a confederal collection of holdings but since the end of the 16th century has been gradually integrated into a single legal federal polity, which allows the Royal Courts jurisdiction over the entirety of the realm and the authority of the two Concilium to extend over the country. The nature of the King's authority since the early 21st century reforms, however, does present itself as him legally ruling over all provinces and holdings in a real union conterminous with the legal entity of the Kingdom. Besides autonomous regions, however, there is a clear popular conception of the Urcean nation-state rather than a Urcean union.
Within the national government itself, the King serves as Chief Executive, though, under the self-imposed terms of the Great Bull of 1811, his powers are not that of Absolute Monarch and the constitutional tradition will limit his direct interference in the affairs of subsidiary and local governments. The King, upon advice of the Concilium Purpaidá, known as the "Purpaidá", serves as the sole legal body responsible for creating national legislation through the form of decrees and proclamations, though unlike in constitutional monarchies, the King is under no obligation to follow or receive advice from the Purpaidá. The Purpaidá not only serves as privy council, as is the historic basis for its existence, but also as a practical executive branch. The various Ministers of the Concilium serve as the head of various Ministries that are akin to executive agencies, and the national bureaucracy is organized through them. Much of the nation's national law comes through regulatory rule-making power statutorily authorized through Royal proclamations; these regulations, rules, and pseudo-laws do not require Royal assent if they have statutory basis but rather require the imprimatur of the Procurator. In the 20th century, obtaining such an imprimatur became a mere formality.
The Procurator serves in many ways as the functional Head of Government as the “right hand of the King”; he or she serves as the presiding officer over meetings of the Concilium, has direct oversight of all its ministers and ministries, and also serves as First Lord of the Treasury, giving the Procurator authority to create and issue Royal Budgets for the Kingdom in the name of the King. Though the Procurator has no formal ministry under them, they have functional control of the Royal Treasury and the national bureaucracy as a whole. The Procurator also serves as the Lord Regent of the Apostolic Kingdom in the event of the absence or minority of a King.
The Royal Treasury is chartered by the King and functionally serves as the central body within the national bureaucracy, coordinating with the various Ministries and other Royal organizations to implement programs and policies via budget lines and supplemental appropriations. The Royal Treasury is funded through various mechanisms which the Kingdom uses to tax. In the Royal Holdings (i.e. the Archduchy of Urceopolis, Electorate of Canaery, and Grand Duchy of Yustona), the King directly levies Royal Dues, a type of income tax assessed at a progressive rate. In the semi-autonomous states, citizens pay the Sovereign Income Tax; the flat tax rates of which are determined by the semi-autonomous governments at a rate no lower than 12.5%, and both Aenglasmarch and Sudlanda set their rates at such. In the provinces, the Provincial Due is taken; rather than a personal tax, this is taken from the total incomes of the provincial government at a flat rate throughout the Kingdom. The rate in 2026 was 25.6%. The Provincial Due and Royal Due rates may not be raised by the King without consent of the Concilium Daoni (known as the “Common Council”), of which the Procurator serves as the Ex Officio Presiding Officer.
The Common Council is a popularly elected/appointed (between the Royal Holds and the Provinces) body that is solely constituted to consider raising Royal taxes, though it is within the prerogative of the King to place other matters before the body if he so chooses; the most common non-tax items on the legislative agenda of the Common Council include hearings for nominations of Royal judges. Though non-salaried, the King will pay for travel and accommodation for members, and serving on the Council is seen as both a distinct patriotic honor as well as a window of opportunity to advance in either government or business. Though the Procurator is the legal presiding officer of the Council, emerging constitutional precedent allows the body to elect a Temporary President that the Procurator allows to serve in his or her place. Beginning in the mid-20th century, emerging precedent also allowed the Common Council to vote to adopt non-binding resolutions that petition the Sovereign to review and potentially repeal a regulation issued by his Purpaidá. Such a petition occurred 114 times between 1980 and 2020 and the King repealed 67; an additional 24 were repealed when political control of the rule-making Ministry shifted. The Daoni meets upon the call of the Monarch and can be called or dissolved at his pleasure, and the maximum length of time any single Council can sit is two years. In recent years, there have been more years where a Council has been called (2026, 2025, 2023, 2021, 2019-20, two in 2018, 2017, and 2015) than not.
Historically, the final institution relevant to national governance in the Apostolic Kingdom was the Imperial Diet, the legislative body of the Holy Levantine Empire which created trade conditions and regulations throughout the Empire. Though the King, as both King and as Elector, had the right to nullify proposed regulation in the provinces (though not in the Archduchy/Grand Duchy/Electorate/semi-autonomous states), the constitutional precedent of the Apostolic King of Urcea wa that the King never effectively exercised nullification. This was primarily due to the importance of the Kingdom to the overall integrity of the Empire, as well as the influence of the numerous members of the Imperial Diet that sat on behalf of Urcea.
Provinces, Royal Holds, and Semi-Autonomous States
The sub-national divisions of Urcea take three distinct forms, the first of which is the royal hold, which is land directly held and administered by the Apostolic King of Urcea through a Royal Parliament for each hold, which consists of all of the county executives within the hold. The Parliament functions as a de facto legislature for the hold, though all proposals must be approved by the King or, in his stead, the Governor-General of the Realm. The Governors-General from the three holds are all appointed by the King on the advice of the Purpaidá, generally factoring the aptitude of a potential office holder as well as the partisan composition of the Hold. The Governors-General are the de facto executive officer within the holds.
The second form of governance is the province, the most numerous of the three types of sub-national governance. These are considered to be general federal entities that are not directly held by the King but rather tied to the Kingdom as a legal entity. The legal precedent has been established through successive rules that constitute a General Code for the Provinces, which creates for the provinces a representative form of government which is uniform throughout. Each province has an elected bicameral legislature (with the two houses generally called the Senate and Assembly) comprised of electoral districts determined decennially based on the decennial census, an elected Governor who serves as the province's chief executive, and a provincial Supreme Court, with some members appointed by the King as a "Royal Judge" and approved by the provincial legislature and with some members being appointed by the Governor.
The third form of governance is the semi-autonomous state, also called a "state", the least numerous of the three types. Unlike the provinces and holds, states are generally free of the royal bureaucracy and are free to construct the confines of their state as applicable, and are also free to determine their own form of governance with consent from the King in the form of an issued charter. In practice, all of the states emulate the form of government as the provinces, though the Chief Executive is called Secretary-General rather than "Governor". The state is generally reserved for cultural enclaves within the Apostolic Kingdom. The King may occasionally also give "Writs of Allowance" to the states which removes them from certain obligations under Royal Decrees if he so chooses, and a small number of these have been issued as of Spring 2028.
The Royal Holds are organized by counties, which in turn are completely organized by local municipal governments as either towns or cities. Until the Abbanach Dynasty, all counties had hereditary Counts, but following the reforms of their rule the traditional hereditary counties were dissolved have all since been replaced by elective counties with county executives and county legislatures, with the exception of Urceopolis County, which has a separate form of governance.
In the provinces and states, local government is organized through entities called dioceses which are coterminous with the Catholic dioceses, and in some of these provinces the local/provincial government is indistinguishable from Church function. In these, the Bishop is the titular legal authority, but in almost all Dioceses, the Bishop, on the advice of the Provincial Legislature, will appoint some type of civilian administrator over the Diocese (often with the input of the municipalities). The Bishop retains the right to veto a particular candidate, but will usually only do so after having obtained a letter of Royal or Papal dispensation to do so (so as to not override a democratically elected legislature unilaterally). A few Bishops, all in rural or Highland areas, traditionally directly administer the Diocese themselves.
|Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "11". Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "11". Largest cities of Urcea|
Urcean Census Bureau
|1||Urceopolis||Archduchy of Urceopolis||32,854,010||Justonium|
|3||Justonium||Grand Duchy of Yustona||6,510,821|
|6||Ordep||Archduchy of Urceopolis||4,359,739|
|8||Beldra||Archduchy of Urceopolis||3,057,574|
|10||Tarrin - Dennach||Archduchy of Urceopolis||2,755,411|
Urcea is a fairly culturally homogeneous country, forming a single Urcean identity after many centuries of admixture between Latinic and Gaelic peoples that coexisted in Levantia since ca. 1000 BC, though some other smaller cultrual groups, such as Yustonese (a type of Latino-Druslaic nation) were integrated as well. As such, some 78% of people in Urcea are ethnically Urcean. Sizable minorities of other ethnicities exist in Urcea, mostly within territory that was traditionally an ethnic homeland, such as the areas of Sudlanda, Canaery and Rexheim, though the latter two exhibit a great deal of "Urceanity" and most consider themselves to be Urceans before their particular subnationality. There is also a small aboriginal Levzeish community in Urcea, primarily in rural and mountainous regions of the country.
Urcea has had a somewhat diverse linguistic history, beginning with the earliest Latin-speaking peoples spreading throughout the land in the period beginning ca. 950 BC. Latin was the sole official language of state in Great Levantia. Gradually, the Latin of the ruling class began to mix with the language of the conquering Celts and Gaels, resulting in Urcea's first native language, Ábciwidar (roughly meaning "of the city", as in "language of the city", referring to Urceopolis), developed, and was the primary vulgar language for nearly a thousand years. It was eventually adopted alongside Latin as language of government in the 900s, though it replaced Latin even in government documents. Latin remained prevalent, however, in the Church and in learning (as it was controlled by the Church).
Ábciwidar is still considered to be the cultural language of Urcea despite its widespread use in some areas of the historical Holy Levantine Empire, so much so that some foreign scholars occasionally incorrectly refer to it as "Urcean". It has since been primarily replaced by English, which came to Urcea through the influence of the neighboring Kingdom of Angla. In time, the English language became something of a common language for traders to use, particularly in regards to commerce between different states of the Empire. After the destruction of the Kingdom of Angla through a series of bloody wars waged by the Empire, Anglan refugees flooded into parts of the Empire, particularly Urcea, and largely settled where those had been killed or banished had lived, making English predominant in eastern Urcea. These immigrants were soon dispersed by nativist nobles soon after, spreading English throughout Urcea, even among non-traders. Although this is the primary reason for the commonality of English, it should be noted that the earlier reign of the House of Julio-Angloise had already set English as present within Urcea, and many historians argue this acted as a foundation for the later influx. As the language of commerce, it became well known and is the primary language spoken today, though some pockets of Ábciwidar still remain.
The second most spoken language in Urcea is Frankish, spoken mainly in the south in the areas of Canaery. Neighboring Canaery is the region of Sudlanda, a semi-autonomous part of the Apostolic Kingdom, wherein a type of Romance Vulgar Slakonian is spoken, which is the third most spoken language in the Kingdom.
The family in Urcea is usually group consisting of a married pair of a woman and a man (adults) and their children (one or more). These so-called "Nuclear families" typically center on the married couple; the nuclear family may have any number of children. The familial definition in Urcea includes blood children and adopted children but not stepchildren, and for tax as well as societal purposes these are not considered. The family structure of a married couple and their children were present since the 6th century, influenced by church and Royal governments. The most notable exception to this is in the eastern Highlands, where a loose clan structure is still considered. While Highlanders live as nuclear families, it is often in close proximity to others, and typically first and second cousins are raised together. These smaller clan units retain loyalty to their kinsmen even outside of the direct mini-clan unit, and even in the 21st century a single, distantly-related clan can make up a plurality of dioceses within the Highlands. Accordingly, consanguinity laws (within four degrees) are strictly enforced. Highland clans are known to form local sports teams and leagues with other clans, and though ancient rivalries have mostly subsided, sometimes these matches can result in violence by hooliganism.
In Urcea, divorce is illegal; as such, only 1-2% of adults over 18 report having been divorced. 77% of adults over the age of 18 are married, 10% were widowed, and the remaining eleven percent report never having been married. Polygamy and gay marriage are both illegal in Urcea.
A vast majority of Urceans are Catholics, which is the official religion of the state. Aside from being a major factor in Urcea's geopolitical dealings, the Catholic Church also proves to be, in many ways, the central organizing structure and focal point in Urcean society. Celebrations of baptisms are usually town-wide, and mass attendance far exceeds most other Catholic countries. Urcea also produces more Catholic priests than any other nation, many of which are then sent to minister overseas in countries with clerical shortages, particularly in Ixnay but elsewhere as well. Protestantism is de jure illegal, but it is said that small congregations exist in the rural countryside and the religious policy has gone largely unenforced since the mid 20th century.
The Catholic Church's influence in Urcea is well known around the world, and it has been said that unifying element of the Urcean national culture - which includes many local cultural variation - is the Catholic faith. The Church is also responsible for organizing local governments in the Provinces through the Bishops and Dioceses. The Catholic Church is also headquartered in Urceopolis, and the Holy See resides there, making the Urcean capital the center point through which all Catholics share communion. Additionally, the Church, in the person of the Pope, holds the independent Papal State within Urceopolis. As such, the Pope serves as a key unofficial adviser to the Apostolic King of Urcea due to the close proximity of St. Peter's Basilica to the Julian Palace. Several Popes have come from the ranks of the Urcean Bishops over the ages, particularly considering the roots of the Papacy in Great Levantia and Urceopolis, though prelates from many other places in Levantia have sat in the Chair of St. Peter as well.
Outside of Urceopolis and other major cities, the Church will often be the center of small town living in Urcea, with the Priest as a key figure within the community and Sunday Mass as an important social gathering. Church attendance in Urcea is among the highest in the developed world and particularly in small municipalities and rural areas, where the figure approaches 80%; the national average is 66.54% of the population, which includes urban areas which can report as low as 45% to 50% in terms of weekly attendance.
Urcea is the world's largest exporter of Latin Rite Priests, which serve in both missionary capacities as well as in normal clerical duties in other countries with weaker faith engagement, such as Insui, among other Catholic-majority states in Ixnay and Crona. Recently, missionary activity from the Urcean Church has become more prevalent in Punth as well, particularly in the northern areas of the continent.
While post-Conciliar masses in Urcea were once popular, said in English as well as in Ábciwidar in some places, their popularity has diminished and have practically disappeared in Urcea since the end of the 20th century. Since then, the Tridentine Mass has become commonplace in Urcea and the Church has considered making it the Ordinary Form of the Mass within the Kingdom.
Within the Kingdom, in lieu of other potential national holidays celebrating moments from the nation's history, workers have all of the Feast Days of Christ and Mary as well as all Canonical Holy Days of Obligation off from work, a total of 30 days when also including the birthday of the King (King Riordan VIII's birthday is June 13th) and the Feast Day of St. Julius on April 1st.
Culture and Society
Mainstream Urcean cuisine is similar to that in other Levantine countries. Wheat is the primary cereal grain with about three-quarters of grain products made of wheat flour and many dishes use indigenous ingredients, such as turkey, venison, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup which were consumed by Levzeish and Gaels as well as early Latinic settlers.
Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, Rondenian dishes such as burritos and tacos, and pasta dishes freely adapted from Latin sources are widely consumed. Urceans drink three times as much coffee as tea. Marketing by Urcean industries is largely responsible for making orange juice and milk ubiquitous breakfast beverages.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Urceans developed many new foods. During the 20th century, food production and presentation became more industrialized. One characteristic of Urcean cooking is the fusion of multiple ethnic or regional approaches into completely new cooking styles. A wave of celebrity chefs began in the 1970s, with many more following after the rise of cable channels such as Stovetop Network.
Literature and the Arts
The history of Urcean visual art is part of Levantine painting history. Levantine art was influenced by earlier Latinic civilization and can in part be taken as a descendant thereof. However, Levantine painting does have important unique characteristics. Such painting can be grouped into 4 main "styles" or periods, and may contain the first examples of trompe-l'œil, pseudo-perspective, and pure landscape.
Panel painting became more common during the Levanesque period, under the heavy influence of Orthodox icons. Towards the middle of the 13th century, Medieval art and Gothic painting became more realistic, with the beginnings of interest in the depiction of volume and perspective in Urcea. From then on, the treatment of composition by the best painters also became much more free and innovative.
Initially serving imperial, private, civic, and religious patronage, Urcean painting later found audiences in the aristocracy and the middle class. From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance painters worked for the church and a wealthy aristocracy. Beginning with the Baroque era, artists received private commissions from a more educated and prosperous middle class. The idea of "art for art's sake" began to find expression in the work of the Romantic painters. During the 19th century commercial galleries became established and continued to provide patronage in the 20th century.
Music and Entertainment
Urcean traditional music has remained vibrant, despite globalising cultural forces, and retains many traditional aspects. It has influenced various music genres, such as country and roots music, and to some extent modern rock. It has occasionally been blended with styles such as rock and roll and punk rock. Urcea has also produced many internationally known artists in other genres, such as rock, pop, jazz, and blues.
The rhythmic and lyrical styles of traditional music have deeply influenced Urcean music at large, distinguishing it from Ixnayan traditions. Elements from folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular genres with global audiences. Country music developed in the 1920s, and rhythm and blues in the 1940s. Since that point, a mix of rock and mainstream pop exists alongside country music as the most popular genres in the country, though some have noted rock music to be in decline since the end of the 20th century, particularly going in a more indie direction as country music has displaced it in many parts of society.
Baseball has been regarded as the Urcean national sport since the late 19th century, and is by several measures the most popular spectator sport. The Royal Baseball Association (RBA) has one of the highest average attendances of any sports league in the world, and the National Series is watched by millions globally. Gridiron Football and ice hockey are the country's next two leading professional team sports, with the top leagues being the Royal Football Confederation (RFC) and National Association of Hockey Leagues (NAHL). These three major sports, when played professionally, each occupy a season at different, but overlapping, times of the year. College football and basketball attract large audiences.
Eight Olympic Games have taken place in Urcea.
Urcea has a very broad and diverse architectural style, which cannot be simply classified by period, but also by region, because of the political consolidation of various polities into Urcea since its formation. This has created a highly diverse and eclectic range in architectural designs.
Urcea is known for its considerable architectural achievements, such as the construction of arches, domes and similar structures during ancient Great Levantia, achievements in the Renaissance architectural movement in the late-14th to 16th centuries, and being the homeland of Palladianism, a style of construction which inspired movements such as that of Neoclassical architecture, and influenced the designs which noblemen built their country houses all over the world.
Urcean architecture has also widely influenced the architecture of the world. Additionally, Urceanate architecture, popular abroad since the 19th century, was used to describe foreign architecture which was built in a Urcean style, especially modeled on Renaissance architecture.
Urcean public education is operated jointly by provincial and local governments alongside the Church, regulated by the Collegium Scientificum, which issues annual guidelines on curriculum and performance standards. In most provinces, children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first grade) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through twelfth grade, the end of high school); some provinces allow students to leave school at 16 or 17.
Urcea has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. Many of the world's top universities listed by different ranking organizations are in Urcea. There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. Of Urceans 25 and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees. The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%.
Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of public roads, including one of the world's longest highway systems. The world's second-largest automobile market, Urcea has one of the highest rates of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Urceans. About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks. The average Urcean adult (accounting for all drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km). Mass transit accounts for 9% of total Urcean work trips.
Urcea's transportation infrastructure is characterized by a large network of super-highways, called the "National Interprovincial Highway Service", and traditional railways in both the heavy and freight varieties for transporting people and goods, respectively. Air travel is also prevalent within the country.
The National Interprovincial Highway Service (NIHS) is owned by the Royal government under the Ministry of Commerce, which does not charge tolls with the exception of the immediate area around Urceopolis which has the roads with the highest use in the nation. The NIHS is largely paid for using general tax funds from the Royal Treasury, though the Ministry of Commerce does use these toll incomes to offset some of the costs that would otherwise be part of the budget.
The national railway infrastructure is also owned by the Ministry of Commerce as the National Interprovincial Railway Service, though the government owns nor operates any railway companies, and all users of the National Railway System are privately owned freight and passenger service corporations that use the rails free of charge. Transport of goods by rail is extensive, though relatively low numbers of passengers (approximately 150 million annually) use intercity rail to travel.
The Royal government owns Archducal International, the largest airport in the nation, which is located in Preserve County just outside of Urceopolis. All other airports are owned by provinces, local municipalities, or even in some cases, by private corporations. The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated.
Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons (7076 kg) of oil equivalent per year, among the highest in the world. In 2025, 31% of this energy came from petroleum, 27% from natural gas, and 23% from nuclear. The remainder was supplied by coal power and renewable energy sources. Urcea is among the world's largest consumers of petroleum.
For decades, coal power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part because of public perception in the wake of early industrial accidents. In 2024, several applications for new "clean coal" plants were filed. Urcea is the world's largest producer of natural gas due to a robustly developed hydrofracking sector and infrastructure.
The Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea has capitalist mixed economy, owing to the origins of the country and the modern philosophical constitution of the country on semi-distributist and Catholic social principles. The country is generally appraised a strong economy, with a GDP per capita of roughly $43,000+ and a total national GDP of $80 trillion, which makes it one of the world's strongest economies. Industrial manufacturing, agriculture, and natural resource gathering (yielding petroleum, among other resources) constitute the largest segments of the economy.
The Urcean economy experienced rapid growth in the late 20th century due to increasing economic modernization and technological innovations, allowing an average 3.1% growth rate between 1972 and 1999, after which point the economy began to slow down and "normalize" relative to potential growth in productivity.
Urcea's trade relations primarily involve countries in Levantia owing to the lack of tariffs within the continent, though trade agreements between Urcea and other countries, such as Kiravia, have been growing more prevalent in the 21st century.
Industries and Sectors
Arms manufacturing is the nation's largest industry, providing military equipment both for the Urcean military and militaries abroad.
Further Information: Taler
The Taler is considered one of the world's strongest currencies, currently exchanging at U$1 for $1.95 USD. The currency itself is the common currency issued by the Levantine Union and used by most of the states therein; nevertheless, it is coined in Urceopolis and much of its stability is attributable to the Royal Bank of Urcea. The Taler is often used as the "default currency" of business in Levantia and even in some parts of Crona and Ixnay, as well as finding use in parts of Punth as a general currency of trade. It is a fiat currency, though in the past it was based on a gold standard. The Dollar is one of the globally accepted hard currencies and is a primary reserve currency in Levantia and abroad.
Adoption of the Dollar was not uniform in Urcea or within the Empire at first, but rather, continuous efforts through the centuries to adopt a common Imperial currency in place of local currencies found success, many times at the behest of Apostolic King. Finding its origin in the thaler of the Kingdom of Ultmar and in some smaller mercantile states in Crona, the Taler eventually became the trade currency of Levantia as a whole and beyond.
Despite the uniform nature of the Taler, it will still have some regional variety in the type of bills and coins themselves; Urcean bills, for example, tend to show scenes of the Holy Levantine Empire's history related to the Apostolic Kingdom's role within it, particularly the Battle of Drumfree and Emperor Leo III as well as other Urcean-born Emperors or other themes commonly relating the country and continent. Other states in Levantia tend to display their head of state or historic heads of state. As such, the Urcean variety of the Taler is the most commonly found variety due to the volume of currency required for the Urcean economy to function.
Further Information: Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea
Despite Urcea's powerful standing military, training of the populace is key. Basic military education (BME) is the only nation-wide course mandatory in high schools. In BME, students are taught how to fire and service several types of weapons, how to camouflage themselves within their surroundings, how to form basic entrenchments, and how to properly enter a building.
All citizens of Urcea are encouraged to own a firearm; about 90% do.