The Holy Britannian Empire, also refereed to as the Britannian Empire or just Britannia, is a nationstate
created from the defeated remnants of the British Empire and was once Ou'kizil Earth's dominant military superpower that ruled over one-third of the planet and was one of the large Empire-unions that controlled the planet before the Combine's Invasion, the others being the Chinese Federation and the European Union. However, following the Combine's invasion and conquest of Ou'kizil Earth, whatever remained of the Holy Britannian Empire was recreated as the Combine-Britannian Empire with the remnants of the Britannian Imperial Family serving as the Empire's puppets.
Britannia traces its cultural origins back to the military expedition of the British Isles by Julius Caesar, invades Britain twice in 55 and 54 B.C., Alwin I meets with strong resistance from the local tribes, who became the founder of the imperial family. The election of the king and the repulsion of the Romans is the starting date of "Ascension Throne Britannia," the universal dating system used by the Britannians, which is similar to the Gregorian calendar of that the rest of the world uses, though dated different years. This would place the date of the invasion of Japan, in 2010 a.t.b. (1395 NE), and the Combine Invasion and occupation in 2017 a.t.b (1402 NE)
It is not stated if the current imperial family (that of Charles) traces its genealogy back to Alwin I, or if the British Isles remained independent of Roman rule during the course of their history or if they were also able to repel the invasions of barbarians, i.e., if the Britannians are the descendants of Celts or if they are Anglo-Saxons as the British of our world are. It is also unclear what effect the Viking and Norman invasions during the Middle Ages had on the British Isles in Code Geass, or if they occurred at all. However, the presence of predominantly Germanic-sounding names suggests that the Britannians are Anglo-Saxons, and the fact that Marianne's maiden name is Lamperouge suggests at least some French influences on Britannian heritage, perhaps resulting from a Norman invasion. (In actual history, the invasion of Germanic tribes, notably the Angles and Saxons, pushed the Celtic peoples of the British Isles out of what we know as England, into Wales and Cornwall.)
Early Modern Era Edit
The exact details of Britannia's growth up until the modern period is only heard in bits and pieces in the entire Code Geass universe, and not entirely in the anime.
During the reign of Elizabeth I (which would presumably be dated as 1558-1603 a.t.b.), the queen remained unmarried, but bore a son, the father of whom is never publicly identified, though candidates were Sir Robert Dudly, the 1st Earl of Leicester, Sir Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex, and Sir Carl, the Duke of Britannia. Each of these men would use this knowledge to garner influence and power in the country. Elizabeth I's son ascended to the throne as Henry IX upon the death of his mother in 1603. His ascension was said to mark the beginning of "the Golden Age of the Tudor dynasty." (In actual history, Elizabeth I died childless as the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.)
Britannia's history drastically diverges from our timeline during the "Age of Revolutions," starting with the failure of the American Revolutionary War in the 1770s, which is known as "Washington's Rebellion" in the history of Code Geass. The revolution failed because Benjamin Franklin was bribed off by the Duke of Britannia with the title of earl. George Washington and the Continental Army suffered a crippling defeat at the battle of Yorktown, at which point control of the North American colonies by Britannia was assured.
The colonial possessions of "Britannia" at this time are not clear in relation to our British Empire; it is not made clear if Britannia ever colonized the Indian Subcontinent (as China controls it at the beginning of the series) or if it was ever an active colonial power in Africa. It seems that Britannia's most important overseas possessions were in North America.
The Age of Revolution Edit
As the "Age of Revolution" reached its peak, many of the old monarchies in Europe were overthrown, but Henry X of Britannia retained an absolute monarchy. The greatest of these revolutions at the time was the French Revolution, which eventually produced the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was Napoleon who orchestrated the greatest formative event which resulted in the creation of the Holy Britannian Empire. A decisive victory at the Battle of Trafalgar allowed Napoleon to invade the British Isles and occupy London. Napoleon's invasion of the British Isles advanced to the point that, in 1807, Queen Elizabeth III was forced to retreat to Edinburgh, where a local revolutionary group arrested her and forced her to abdicate the throne, ending the monarchy over the British Isles. This event came to be known as the "Humiliation of Edinburgh." (In actual history, the French invasion fleet suffered a crippling defeat at Trafalgar to Admiral Nelson.)
However, Sir Ricardo von Britannia, Duke of Britannia, and his friend and subordinate Sir Richard Hector, Knight of One, led a retreat with Elizabeth III and the remaining loyalists in the British Isles to the North American colonies, establishing a capital on the east coast. In 1813, Elizabeth III died childless, nominating Ricardo von Britannia as her successor on her deathbed. It was at this time that the "Ascension Throne Britannia" calendar was established in the American version. Though Napoleon successfully conquered the British Isles, his rule over Europe ran into popular discontent and culminated in his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1821. Napoleon died on his way back to France; it is rumored that he was poisoned by agents who were acting in accordance with Elizabeth III's will. With the departure of Napoleon and his imperial ambitions from history, a new Europe-spanning empire with democratic ideals arose, and would later become the modern Europia United. Over time, the EU would grow to encompass all of Europe, including the whole of Russia, and Africa, and would for centuries be the bitter enemy of Elizabeth III's followers in North America.
Development and Expansion Edit
By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the "Britannians" were essentially the defeated remains of the absolutist aristocracy of the British Isles who had retreated to their colonial holdings in North America following the loss of their original homeland. Even before the Napoleonic Wars, the Britannian aristocracy had utterly reject all notions of democracy that were put forth by the Enlightenment and the Age of Revolution, instead embracing absolutism like that of the Tudor dynasty. Their humiliating defeat and exile only further embittered the Britannians, causing them to fully embrace a national ethos of revanchism. The resulting Holy Britannian Empire, while geographically centered in the area of our United States and descended from our British Empire, is analogous to neither of these political entities, instead being an odd mix of North American Tories (pro-British colonials, or loyalists, from the Revolutionary era) and imperial British aristocrats.
The small population of "Britannian" nobles had reached a critical low point, having a very small core population, but were determined to rebuild their former power in North America, and began and aggressive campaign of conquest. Presumably this campaign began as events analogous to our Manifest Destiny, but clearly eventually grew to stretch across both North and South America, presumably seizing former European colonial regions such as the empires of Mexico and Brazil. After being pushed to the edge of oblivion, the Britannians now saw international politics as a fight for survival, and rapidly rebuilt themselves into a world power by dominating the rest of the Americas. Each new region that was conquered appears to be designated as an "Area," and its indigenous population as "Numbers" named after their Area (i.e., Area 11 and the Elevens). However, it is not explicitly stated what parts of North and South America make up the Britannian Homeland; it could form North America, or just the original colonies, or the whole of the Americas. It is therefore difficult to place exactly what regions are Areas prior to the incorporation of Area 11 (Japan) into the empire.
Because the original core population of Britannians was so small, a very stratified and highly classist social hierarchy was established, in which the extremely small minority of "pure blood" Britannians (who were descended from the original British aristocrats who fled to North America) ruled over the "honorary Britannians" (who held a mid-level social position. At the very bottom were the Numbers, the conquered peoples who lived in segregated ghettos Numbers can also apply for honorary citizenship, but are still treated as second-class citizens by some Britannians ,
When Charles Darwin proposed his Theory of Evolution, which was later appropriated by the philosophy of Social Darwinism, it readily caught on in Britannia. The idea that conflict and competition promoted growth, that those who conquered and subjugated other peoples were justified in doing so, was well-accepted by Britannians. They saw it as the ultimate justification for their struggle to claw back from the brink of extinction and over the decades turn themselves into a world power again, and for their campaign of survival, conquest, and, ultimately, revenge.
The Holy Britannian Empire utterly embraced Social Darwinism not only as a national ethos and mentality, but even as something akin to a state religion; Charles Darwin came to be referred to as Saint Darwin, as an example, and the Emperor Charles may very well have been named after the naturalist. The subjugation and oppression of non-Britannians became a systematically applied set of negative virtues, which brought about the act of Britannia "reforming itself along Prussian lines" as the society became almost entirely dedicated to the military effort and further conquests.
By the time of the (unspecified) World Wars in the mid-20th century, the Holy Britannian Empire had already become one of the three superpower nations that controlled a third of the planet, the other two being the Europia United and the Chinese Federation. Of note is the fact that the three superpowers are similar in their geographic composition to the three superpowers of Nineteen Eighty-Four: Oceania (Britannia), Eurasia (Europia United), and Eastasia (Chinese Federation).
By the time of the invasion of Japan, from their homeland in North America, Britannia controlled the whole of the Americas, as well as--depending on different versions of the manga that do not contradict the main storyline--New Zealand, Hawaii, and the Philippines.
Conquest of Japan Edit
The rare mineral, sakuradite, became increasingly valuable as more and more modern military technology relied upon it; the superconductive properties of it resulted in technological miniaturization which allowed for the development of such machines as Knightmare Frames. Unfortunately for Britannia, 70% of the world's sakuradite came from reserves located in Japan. While not being part of the three superpowers, Japan was able to maintain its independence and economic superiority by manipulating sakuradite supplies to each of the three superpowers to maintain a balance of power; essentially, if any one superpower tried to invade Japan and seize its sakuradite reserves, it would give them such an advantage that the other two powers would have to attack it instantly or risk annihilation. Consequently, no one superpower was willing to risk a world war by conquering Japan, even though each of them was perfectly capable of doing so.
In 2010 a.t.b., after the conquest of Area 10 by Britannia (in some versions the Indochinese Peninsula), Japan decided to align with the policies of the Chinese Federation and Europia United and apply economic pressure upon Britannia, an event which came to be referred to as the Oriental Incident; all three factions blockaded Britannian ports in an attempt to force negotiations.
The plan backfired, though, as Britannia instead invaded Japan on August 10th in the Second Pacific War. Lasting only a month, Britannia conquered Japan thanks to the large-scale implementation of fourth-generation Knightmares as weapons of war, whose combination of mobility and firepower gave them a complete advantage over the more standard main battle tanks of Japan. The conquered island nation was renamed Area 11, and its citizens "Elevens." Britannia accomplished this feat without retaliation from the EU and the Chinese Federation thanks to clever political manipulation: Britannia divided the sakuradite production of Japan into thirds and evenly distributed it among the three superpowers. More sakuradite was produced overall as the Japanese no longer had any say in the matter, such as the exploitation of sakuradite deposits under Mt. Fuji which caused the sacred mountain to be defaced in pursuit of the mineral. Britannia wisely gave the other two superpowers equal shares in the stockpiles of sakuradite, essentially bribing them out of war or even allying with each other.
A major reason as to why the war ended so abruptly was the apparent suicide of the Japanese Prime Minister, Genbu Kururugi (actually his murder by his son, Suzaku). Though Japan had been militarily defeated, it had not completely surrendered and was prepared to mount a do-or-die resistance against Britannia; ironically, this meant that Britannia had never actually broken Japan or even really demoralized its population beyond hope, and its industrial and economic capacities were never completely destroyed. This meant that Area 11 was never a fully pacified occupation sector for Britannian forces, which may account at least in part for the rather brutal treatment of Elevens by Britannians such as the massacres at the Shinjuku and Saitama ghettos in 2017 a.t.b.
Invasion by the Combines and Destruction Edit
In 2017 a.t.b, the Combines discovered and invaded Ou'kizil Earth, starting the brutal 10 hour war. While the rest of the world burned, the Britannians manged to hold out the longest, but it was pretty clear that the war was not in their favor. The conflict finally ended with the death of Emperor Charles zi Britannia by the hands of General Giloma Vil Fillaker, who later became the Supreme General of the Combine-Britiannian Empire. Following the end of the war and the death of Charles zi Britannia, General Vil Fillaker made a suggestion to Emperor Yiloala to turn the conquered britiannians into a puppet-state, which he agreed to, recreating the empire into a puppet with remaining and surviving elements of the old Imperial Family retaining their roles as rulers of this empire, but it was nothing more then a glorified position, with the CBE's real power residing in the hands of the Supreme General, the man who conquered Britannia in the first place, Giloma Vil Fillaker.
Britannia used to be an absolute monarchy, meaning that the Royal Family holds most or all authority and administrative power, though there is also a bicameral legislature in effect, at least in the Britannian Homeland. The Upper House is the House of Lords, which likely represents the interests of the aristocrats, while the Lower House is the Senate, and the Senators may be drawn from their State Legislatures. With the aristocracy dominating the House of Lords, the Senate represents the common people. In all of Code Geass media, the only named member of the Senate is William H. Helmsley, who was assassinated by Rolo in front of the Tennessee State Legislature in Nashville as portrayed in R2 Stage 04 Counterattack at the Gallows at an unspecified point in the past. This seems to indicate that the Senate actually wields enough power to warrant Rolo being dispatched to assassinate a member. Helmsley stood in opposition of the House of Lords on the issue of demoting Area 8 to a correctional sub-Area, as had happened to Area 11 following the First Black Rebellion.
The head of state is the Emperor of Britannia, and the head of government is the Prime Minister. Schneizel, as Prime Minister, by default, controls all administrative and managerial aspects of Britannia; despite not being the eldest son, he has the highest office apart from the Emperor, although it is unknown if he is in charge of other the House of Lords or the Senate. The Areas are under the control of the Viceroys, who are themselves either part of the aristocracy, the Imperial Family itself, or the military.
While the policies of Britannia vary depending on the reigning emperor, its succession is based on Social Darwinism rather than divine mandate as their name and a verse of the national anthem ("His [the emperor's] bloodline immortal and pure") would suggest. Consequently, much bloodshed and in-fighting occurs between members of the royal family; one who wants to become the next monarch has to lie, cheat, and murder their way to the top.
Lower nobility controls much of the business and bureaucracy outside the Royal Family, and judging by the number of legal and illegal businesses that appear in occupied areas, capitalism is widely encouraged. The residents of conquered nations can become Honorary Britannian citizen, and while not genuine Britannians or free from discrimination, they are entitled to the same basic rights. Those who refuse to accept honorary citizenship are consigned to live in rundown ghettos, while those who accept it may live in the prosperous Britannian colonial cities, called Concessions. Britannian corporations are described as Zaibatsu in Japanese, referring to powerful business cliques
Charles zi Britannia's Era Edit
During the era of Charles zi Britannia, the Empire mostly followed an ideology of Social Darwinism. While the Emperor himself does hold most of the governmental power in theory, in practice he delegates regional control to his many children, and even those that do not govern a particular region also have considerable political and military power. Charles has stated that traditional "Ten Commandments" morality is counter-progressive and believes that only internal struggle and military conquest can facilitate human evolution, and advocates such acts as adultery and murder. He does not even make exceptions for his own children, as he shows no sympathy for their deaths, only pride in that those who cannot fend for themselves are being culled from the royal line.
Outside the Royal Family, there were numerous noble ranks during Charles' era, listed here in order of importance:
- Grand Duke
- Knight, non-hereditary.
- Knight of Honor, non-hereditary
Although descended from the former British Empire, with English as its national language and direct cultural roots that still exist in its modern state (such as drinking tea as a beverage and an appreciation for classical art, opera, equestrianism and namesakes e.g. Glasgow, Sutherland and Warwick) Britannia's culture is both unique and diverse, mirroring that of many real world countries, especially that of America and other European nations (French cuisine seemingly admired throughout both series despite a deep rivalry with the EU over their control of the British Isles. German names and titles are also very common.)
Britannia possesses advanced forms of communication including modern cell phones, ear pieces, the internet and television, and information seems to flow freely, despite rigid censorship and state propaganda in news broadcasts. for example, Shirley Fenette's swim club friends are shown to be watching some kind of comedy chat show on a small hand-held television. The Tokyo Concession is abound with giant solar panels around it's edges, and vehicles seem to lack exhaust pipes, possibly indicating that Britannia is a green society free of pollution.
Britannia is a highly capitalist and consumerist society and the ruthless 'survival of the fittest' nature of capitalism fits well with Britannia's belief in Social Darwinism. Corporations in Britannia apparently wield large amounts of power and influence.
These characteristics apparently result in spite for the Britannians being built up, especially among the Numbers. It has been demonstrated that some Numbers (specifically the Elevens) seem to have little concern for the well-being of Britannian innocents, viewing them as no better than the government.
Among the Britannians themselves, there does not appear to be a great amount of discontent with the current governmental system. This indicates that the Britannian government is not as repressive of the lower class Britannian citizens, in comparison to the repression of the Numbers. However, power struggles and feuding amongst the royalty and nobility seems to be common place.
However, this began to change with the Black Knights rebellion which led to a wave of new uprisings and terrorism both from conquered territories and from Britannians themselves. Anti-Imperialist groups such as the Wings of Talleyrand are of Britannian origins.
Despite these ruthless characteristics, knightly concepts of chivalry and honour also plays a major role in Britannian culture as well. This is particularly seen in the military and often clashes with the existing prejudices and loyalty to the monarchy as we can see from various characters such as Jeremiah Gottwald, Oldrin Zevon and Gilbert G.P. Guilford. Britannian soldiers are seen to have sacrificing their own lives to protect those they believe in implies a strong belief in honour and loyalty. Although Britannian forces have constantly attacked and massacred Numbers, even the most racist Britannians were shocked and horrified by the genocidal killing during the events at Special Administrative Zone massacre.