The Estates General, formally the General Association of the Estates of the Commonwealth, is the largest defence organisation of Praetonia, which is often seen as representing the population of the island in their dealings with states. Legally the Estates General is a confederation of associations which continue to assert independent authority in many matters. The circumstances and manner in which the Estates General can act are limited and legally complex.
The Estates-General was formed during the 'Praetonian Civil War' in which Common Law forces conquered the Praetonian home island. However, it was not a particularly important military organisation at that time. The Common Law faction consisted of three large Senland associations - Eastern Association, roughly representing the Senland yeoman farmers, the Committee for Parks' Maintenance, representing the Haversham burghers, and the Ports' League, representing the fleet, merchant ports, and burghers of lesser cities - which were numerically dominated on land by the Eastern Association. In practice, the Committee troops served under Eastern Association command while the Ports' League provided ships and garrison forces. The Estates-General formally unified them under a single command structure and flag (that of the Eastern Association) but it was largely ceremonial.
The Estates-General became much more important during the pacification of the islands, in which it united these established Senland associations with newly formed associations representing and exercising authority over the newly Legalised territories. It was important during this time for these new associations to be treated equally with the old Senland associations, rather than being presented as occupation forces of a Sennish conquest under the control of Sennish organisations. The Estates-General continued to be organised on a confederal structure, but now explicit contractual agreements existed requiring all the members of the Estates-General to consult together on a broad range of happenings, and to go to war together in the event that they were "menaced by a force so powerful that it stands beyond the control of the Yeomen or the Watch", referring respectively to the disorganised militia of men of good standing and those employed professionally as guards and bailiffs.
In those early years, this mostly meant dealing with "rebellions" against the Common Law itself, something which could refer to happenings much more minor than would today be considered "rebellions" justifying the intervention of the associations. Nonetheless, it was very rare that the full compulsory deployment of the combined forces of the Estates-General would be required. Instead, leading associations would voluntarily lend assistance to smaller ones, raising troops according to their own constitutions and the wishes of their own members. By the mid 18th century, with Common Law firmly established across the island and no serious land threat to the islands, the Estates-General's mission changed again. The previous navies of combined armed merchantmen were increasingly obsolete. Instead, purpose-built navies were required to compete with Quiberon and other organised maritime powers. At the 31st Convention of the Estates-General, fifteen leading associations agreed a pact to provide "Ship Money", a permanent source of revenue to build and maintain a standing battle fleet.
Meanwhile, on land, the Estates-General again became a largely ceremonial organisation, prominent to the public for certain parades held on key national anniversaries, but almost irrelevant as a political organisation. Instead, individual associations conducted diplomacy and interventions abroad more or less independently. Conventions of the Estates-General were called in response to particular events as purely consultative measures, and usually ended with some associations agreeing to combine together to pursue some course of action while others chose to abstain. Things changed with the coming of the Great War, when major threats across the now widely-spread, international Commonwealth required either a total mobilisation of national resources or the abandonment by the 'Old Commonwealth' of its "divine mission to spread Justice". At the 57th Convention of the Estates-General in 1905 a majority of associations agreed to raise a "New Army", this time organised by the associations but under the direction of the Estates-General centrally, which was to be sent to Questers.
In 1906, with Cockaygne collapsing on the continent, the 53rd Convention ended in disarray when the majority "Coalition of the Willing" asserted that the threat posed by the collapse of Cockaygne was so great that Quiberon "menaced" the home island and unified defence was therefore the duty of all the associations according to Law. The matter was referred to the Haversham Metropolitan Court, which agreed with this majority opinion, but was careful to state that it was only due to the particular circumstances of the Cockaygne collapse and the threat posed by Quiberon, and not an unlimited duty upon the Praetonian associations to defend all Common Law territories, as some had argued. The Committee for Parks' Maintenance filed an objection to the ruling but accepted it, leading to a collapse in opposition for unlimited war. For the first time in history, all the associations of the Estates-General went to war together.
Following the Great War, several associations threatened to withdraw from the Estates-General. This led to the passing of the Second Bylaws of the Estates-General, which more explicitly laid out the circumstances in which the Estates-General as a whole could, or could be obliged to, declare war.
The Estates-General is a confederation of numerous associations which operate independent land forces and jealously guard their individual rights, autonomy, and traditions. These land forces are ordinarily under the separate supreme command of the individual associations and are not subordinate to the Estates-General, although they occupy some place within its order of battle.
The Estates-General also operates a standing navy under its own central authority. It has a permanent head appointed for life, called the Protector of the Estates-General. The protector heads the Estates' Navy and the Permanent Strategic Establishment, the small cadre of officers without association affiliation who are responsible for intelligence and planning within the Estates-General. These officers are only permitted to carry sidearms. Sentries and other protection forces are provided in peacetime by the Life Guard Regiment, a standing formation of the Haversham-based Committee for Parks' Maintenance. The operations of the Estates-General are limited by two factors: money and manpower. The "ship money", levied by contract on all member associations and some private individuals independently, amounts to about 3% of the combined income of the Praetonian Home Islands. About two-thirds of this is spent on the construction and maintenance of the navy and one-third is deposited in the 'Contingencies Fund', which allows the Estates-General to conduct medium-sized aeronaval operations without seeking additional funding or approval from the constituent associations.
Under the Second Bylaws of the Estates-General, there are two mechanisms by which additional money can be raised, and by which association troops can be co-opted to the Estates-General. First, the Electors to the Estates-General may vote to raise a specific sum or to co-opt all association forces for a specific purpose, by a three-quarters majority in both number of associations and monetary contributions of the associations. This mechanism has so far only once been employed successfully: to pay for the Army of Observation in Questers after the Great Mutiny. Second, the Estates-General may be called upon by an association or by a treaty ally (the Malay Federation, the Cockaygne Kirk, the North Point Company, the Tairendian concession port, and formerly the Freeholders Confederation) to come to its defence in the event that it is directly attacked by a "force so powerful that it stands beyond the control of the Yeomen or the Watch" or the individual association. This was invoked during the Great Mutiny.
Operational command of forces assigned to the Estates is exercised by a Marshal of the Estates-General. The position of Marshal is an office and not a rank; it is granted only for a specific time and then relinquished. A Marshal is appointed by the Protector and has absolute command over all Estates' forces in a defined geographical area regardless of his rank within any individual association or any other details of the chain of command. Typically there is a Marshal of the Home Islands and a Marshal-at-Sea. Today, there is a Marshal of the Home Islands, a Marshal-in-Observation, a Marshal of Cockaygne, a Marshal-at-Sea of the Western Oryontic and Axackal, and a Marshal-at-Sea of the Eastern Oryontic. The Protector cannot directly command Estates' forces, but exercises considerable authority via his power to appoint marshals.
Associations of the Estates-General
|Resolution class||Praetonia||8,000t||2012 -||6x 550mm torpedo tubes, 40 weapons|| Resolution
|Nuclear-powered fleet submarine. Four under construction.|
|Indefatigable class||Praetonia||7,500t||2004 -||6x 550mm torpedo tubes, 35 weapons|| Indefatigable
|Nuclear-powered fleet submarine, 8 boats.|
|Defiant class||Praetonia||6,000t||1996 -||5x 550mm torpedo tubes, 30 weapons|| Defiant
|Nuclear-powered fleet submarine, 8 boats.|
|Undaunted class||Praetonia||5,500t||1985 -||5x 550mm torpedo tubes, 30 weapons|| Undaunted
|Nuclear-powered fleet submarine, 8 boats.|
|Thunderer class||Praetonia||5,000t||1977 -||4x 550mm torpedo tubes, 25 weapons|| Tenacious
|Nuclear-powered fleet submarine, training role, 2 boats. 6 boats decommissioned.|
|Affirmation class||Praetonia||2,800t||1995 -||6x 550mm torpedo tubes, 18 weapons|| Be Just
|Diesel-electric submarine, 20 boats.|
|Victory class||Praetonia||70,000t||1992 -||4 squadrons plus support|| Bewford
|Conventional aircraft carrier. One sunk (???) in the Questarian Mutiny.|
|Magnificent class||Praetonia||45,000t||1973 -||2 squadrons plus support|| Munificent
|Conventional aircraft carrier. Various decomissioned.|
|Bounty class||Praetonia||25,000t||2002 -||1 squadrons plus support|| Bounty
|Sea control carrier.|
|Association class||Praetonia||9,000t||1999 -||64 missiles (forward VLS), 8 missiles (canister), 2 point defence systems, 2 helicopters, one 105mm gun||27||Air defence and anti-submarine escort with multifunction radar.|
|Admiral class||Praetonia||5,000t||1982 -||30 missiles (forward arm launcher), 8 missiles (canister), 1 helicopter, two 30mm guns, one 105mm gun||12||Escort used in anti-submarine role, with point air defence and limited local area air defence capability. 28 ships decommissioned.|