Historyproject:The New Talossan History Project

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The New Talossan History Project by Gödafrïeu Válcadac’h, Miestră Schivă, et al

Originally based on A Very Short History of Talossa by Gödafrïeu Válcadac’h
Originally published 4 August 2020 by Oraclâ Press

[photo coming soon] Ben Madison in 2003 during Talossa-Fest ~ Photo by Chirisch Cavéir

Introduction

Talossa is a micronation - a "slightly fictitious country" - founded in 1979 by Robert Ben Madison of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 26 December 1979.

Robert Ben Madison ("Ben") was born in 1965 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Hêrí Donatüs and his wife, Ivanâ Préiriâ. Ben has traced his ancestry to French aristocracy from the 13th Century, 'confirming' his ancient 'Talossan' ancestry. His 'scholarly findings' on Talossa's mythical Berber heritage can be read in his book, The Berber Project. The entire thing is tongue-in-cheek, and his bibliographic title of 'Frighteningly Large Bibliography' is no joke.

The 'Big History' is Ben's History of the Kingdom of Talossa, Volume I: The First Decade, completed and self-published in 1992 with corrections made in 1994. In the absence of the National Archives, the 'Big History' is the most reliable account we have of Talossa's beginnings, and it is detailed.

A Nation Founded: 'In the beginning...' to 1979

According to the Big History, Ben was in a 1973 accident of some sort and hit his head on the street. He had a concussion and had to be rushed to the hospital, making a full recovery. Apparently, his mind by that experience was changed into one of greater brilliance.

The first fourteen years of his life seem to have been quite happy, and he has never indicated that those years were anything but normal and actually hum-drum. Ben's father, Hêri, taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and his wife and Ben's mother, Ivanâ Préiriâ, was at least for part of her career a well-loved librarian in the local public library system.

In February 1979, Ivanâ Préiriâ suddenly passed away. Although the Big History devotes exactly one paragraph to the passing of Ben's mother[1], this has raised suggestions that Talossa's founding was, at least in a small part, a coping mechanism on Ben's part[2]; though this is and must remain speculation.

Ben's political mind in 1979 made him realize in the latter part of that year: 'I am not an American'. He got the idea of starting his own country, and on 26 December 1979 at 7:00pm Central, Ben held a small ceremony at which he declared his upstairs bedroom an independent country. He also crowned himself as King Robert I.

Hêrí and other relatives were present as well as Ben's sister. Xherált Conâ was present as U. S. Ambassador to the brand-new country. And that was that.

[photo coming soon] Xherált Conâ ca. 1998 ~ photo by unknown

Language and War: 1980

A school friend of Ben's from that time, known in Talossan history as Art Verbotten, remembers:

I recall Ben approaching me in January of 1980, after the holiday break with a handwritten newspaper and a folder of papers which declared his bedroom as an independent state called Talossa. I don't actually recall my response. I'm sure it was something like "That's very nice Ben. Did you fall off the psychiatrist's couch and hit your head again?" I assumed it was another idea he'd grow tired of after a few days or weeks, but every other day or so he'd have a new newspaper to show everyone. His regular collection of announcements, ideas, and his frequent dramatic shifts in religious and political beliefs were now being funneled into this new country of his and all of it was being documented in his newspapers. At this time he was also obsessed with languages so it was very natural for him to start creating a unique national language for Talossa. It all just sort of fit together.[3]

The first year of Talossa was marked by numerous 'revolutions'. By the end of 1980, Ben had had enough of all that, and decided keeping the Talossan monarchy around was what the country needed. At this time, the country officially consisted solely of himself, but he had gained international allies in his great conflict against the 'infernal Conâ': the Conâ Wars, prosecuted in November 1980 and coming to a head in the 'Battle of the Garage' on 25 November 1980.

The Conâ Wars consisted mainly of the Battle of the Garage, which consisted of Xherált procuring black ink from his church's print shop and throwing same on Ben's family's garage door. Xherált 'surrendered' soon thereafter and in the midst of winter cleaned the ink off the garage door. The Big History is clear in that the end of 1980 with the Conâ Wars in Ben's mind being the point at which Talossa began to take on a life of its own, even if officially it was only a nation of one.

Most importantly, however, 1980 saw the beginnings of the Talossan language and the start of Ben's 'newspaper of record', Støtanneu (which may have begun in 1979 immediately upon founding). In the early years of Talossa, Støtanneu was a blank book which was as much Ben's diary as it was a Talossan newspaper[4]; it survived in various forms, eventually becoming an online newsletter by the late 1990s.[5]

The first democratic election: 1981

Apart from Ben and Xherált Conâ, other belligerents in the Conâ War were Ben's school friends Ián 'JJ' Metáiriâ, and Art Verbotten. During this time, however, Talossa's political life began in the political discussions of a different grouping of friends: Ben, Dan Lauriér, and Bob dal Már. At this stage, Dan Lauriér and others wanted Ben to stop doing Talossa and get on with his real life[6]; as it turned out, however, Dan Lauriér became Talossa's "gadfly" that served as a perfect first political foil for Ben.[7]

September 1981 saw Dan Lauriér's party elected to power in Talossa's first democratic election, on a platform of "the destruction of Talossa". He was the Kingdom's first prime minister and served in that capacity for about six weeks, before the King convicted him of treason and he resigned[8]. It would not be until 1985 that Talossan democracy / representative-government would make a return, but when it did, it was here to stay.

Hum-drum early Talossa: 1981-1985

During this time, Ben, JJ and all the old Talossan crew graduated from high school and went on their separate ways. JJ, at the time a flamboyant "American Nationalist"[9] whose politics might be called "alt-right" in today's lexicon, became a citizen officially in 1983, and began a competing newspaper, Talossan National News (TNN), in 1985. In 2000, Ben described JJ as second only to himself in significance for Talossa's development;[10] although Danihel Lauriér was as much, if not more, responsible for the continued survival of the Kingdom to this day.

The first 'Golden Age': 1985-1988

1985 saw Talossa's first "Organic Law" come into force - this constitutional law supplanted the original, two-line 1979 Constitution which gave the King absolute power. The first democratic election since 1981 was held, and JJ's "Nationalist Party of America" (later renamed the Talossan National Party (TNP)) became the new right-wing foil to both Dan Lauriér's leftist "Democratic Dandipratic Party (DDP)" and the King's centrist "Progressive Conservatives (PC)".[11]

"What JJ would have in a way no-one in Talossa has had before or since is true political panache.' says Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h. "His collected works are a testimony to how much he enjoyed doing Talossa and how organized and thorough in everything he did. The years 1985-1988 were the time of JJ's greatest Talossan energy, and these years were a golden age of politics, drama, and true comedy."

Having mellowed slightly from their historical position of "destroying Talossa", the DDP had instead moved to a position of abolishing the Talossan monarchy. King Robert I was forced to grant a referendum on the subject, but found a quite amazing way to head off this burgeoning republican movement at the past - by abdicating in favour of a new citizen! Hence, Rôibeard Carlüs Diceubalsâ - who had been a citizen for two months - was endorsed in a February 1987 referendum as King Robert II, and took the Throne on the 11th of that month. Gödafrïeu Valcadac'h argues that this could properly be seen, counter-intuitively, as a power-grab by ex-King Ben: "While he was monarch, Ben had to maintain a public face, but as a private citizen, he could be a silent political assassin - the power behind the throne."

Sadly, Robert II's reign never became popular with the nation as a whole. Lauriér's party, renamed "People United for No King", won a majority in the March 1987 election, and "legislatively decapitated" Robert II on the 29th day of that month - a reign of just over six weeks. Talossa thus entered its Peculiar Republic era, which lasted precisely 3 months until Danihel Lauriér politically surrendered, declaring: "I was completely wrong... Talossa must orbit the big-Ben-ego"[12]. However, Ben was in no mood to resume the throne; his party instead named Floretziâ Iàrni, a former English teacher of Ben's, as their candidate for the new monarch. The first and only election of the Peculiar Republic, in August 1987, restored the PC to power; King Florence I was crowned on the 24th of that month.

Flo soon tired of the job, and King Robert I finally reassumed the throne at a recoronation ceremony on 27th February 1988. A highlight of her reign was the beginning of The Clark, Talossa's legislative journal which is still published today[13]. Later in that year, the 1988 Constitution was accepted.

This was also the stage in Talossan history when Daviü Ardít and Ronált Rosais first became citizens. The two, known as "Davron" because of the extent to which they worked as a team, became notorious for their offensive machismo and political scheming, which included taking over whole political parties and writing newspaper columns about their bowel movements. JJ later wrote of their antics in his most-iconic work, Invasion of the Androids.

The New Breeze era: 1989-1995

By 1989 and going into 1990, the bright flame (no pun intended) was burning out. Dan Lauriér's new political movement, Peculiarism, which eschewed treating Talossa as a country similar to other countries and promoted taking things less seriously in general[14], won the legislative election of 1990, and promptly proceeded to do nothing.[15] The momentum that defined the mid-1980s was becoming stagnant, and Talossa entered its greatest period of apathy until the 2003-2004 period. Additionally, the right-wing edge JJ had espoused all his life was permanently dulled: in 1990, he realized he actually had a reason to march in his first Pride parade as other than 'ally'. He dissolved his long-standing Talossan National Party at about this time and temporarily ceased to publish TNN.

In November of that year was the nadir during which a 'Destiny Referendum' was held to determine whether the Kingdom should dissolve itself or keep going. A low turnout voted by nearly 85% for Talossa to continue as is.[16] December 1990 was more cheery than the previous few months had been.

1991 saw JJ, long Ben's foil to the Right, join the ruling PC party and become Prime Minister, following an outbreak of apathy on the Left. TNN returned to publication in 1992.

"There is a reason why Ben has been so high on JJ through the years," argues Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h:

It was JJ's energy that led the nation back to itself, and when one takes in this history, it is easy to understand why Ben tended to forget (I believe) about Dan Lauriér. Ben and JJ were by this time best friends in a (platonic!) way Ben and Dan never had been. Ben and JJ were more like brothers... (but) Dan and Ben together laid Talossa's political foundations, and were it not for Dan's involvement, I am very confident Ben in his absent-mindedness might have let Talossa fade away.

1994 saw a group of graduate students at Marquette University ("Mugrads") have their time in the spotlight. The chief event of 1994, however, was Dan Lauriér making the first pitch for putting Talossa online. The consumer internet had just blossomed in the general public consciousness, and the time was ripe, in Dan's estimation at least, to put the Regipäts'[17] out to the world. While JJ was very dubious about the Internet in general and cyber-citizenship in particular[18], King Robert seems to have sensed that the "Old Growth" of his social circle in the East Side of Milwaukee and elsewhere was about to become exhausted of its Talossanity.

On 15 January 1996 www.execpc.com/~talossa made its online debut. The Cybercit Era had begun.

A New Age and an Exodus: 1996-1997

Chirischtôval Calitzâ in early 1996 became the country's first Cybercit, sight-unseen. Others soon followed, and by year's end, as many Cybercits had joined the Regipäts as had joined in the previous ten years.

The single most important event in the history of Talossan publicity occurred at this time with Netscape (at that time, the dominant browser on "Web 1.0") putting Talossa's website as one of its featured sites. Not before or since has the country been so deluged with inquiries.

1996 saw the formation of the ZPT (Defenders of the Land of Talossa), the first political party dominated by Cybercits, as well as the first TalossaFest with Cybercit participation, either in-person or by phone. November saw new Secretary of State Adiêns Glaçâ preside over the first 'cyber-election' in Talossa's history.

"The genius of Talossa lies not only in its longevity, but also in its ability to attract mostly good people," argues Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h:

One would think the Wild West internet would have brought to us trolls and ne'er-do-wells, but the crowd who came in 1996-1998 (and after) were, almost to a person, people who truly wished for the country to be as good as it could be. They were immediately enthused and more-than-helped to lay the foundations of Talossa's online civil service.

By this time, the three Old-Growthers still fully-active in Talossa were Ben, JJ, and Art Verbotten. It must be remembered at this time, Talossan society still revolved around the Milwaukee Old-Growth crowd, and for as long as Ben would remain in Talossa, this would continue to be the case; he was the sole 'liason' between many old-timers and all the Cybercits. At about this time, the subject of "pocket votes" began to be raised: Talossan citizens who were no longer active, except voting at every election. Although this phenomenon has been a continuous feature of Talossan history and in all successful political parties, at this time, it was seen as a problem that most of these votes were in the pocket of King Robert and his Progressive Conservative party.[19]

The second half of 1996 also saw work begin on the 1997 Organic Law[20] with real-life lawyer Matáiwos Harþ 'presiding' and doing a lot of the leg-work. Tomás Gariçéir came along in the late 1990s, becoming the second ever fluent speaker of the Talossan language - on a visit to "the Greater Talossan Area" (Milwaukee), Gariçéir is said to have sustained conversation in el glheþ naziunal with the King for a whole 20 minutes without having to switch to English.

1996 or 1997 saw the first iteration of Wittenberg, Talossa's web forum (first created by Carlüs Savúls, following a previous, experimental "Talossan Discussion Group"[21]). September 26th, 1997, saw the first Cort veto of a citizenship application: that of Miestră Schivă, who now somewhat grandiosely claims: "From this event set forth a chain of events which changed Talossa forever more, and whose repercussions are still being felt today."

As a prospective citizen, New Zealand-based post-graduate student Schivă had struck up a firm friendship with Australian Adiêns Glaçâ - "him being the closest thing to a compatriot I had at the time", she explains. The two had hatched a plan for a semi-autonomous Talossan culture based in the Antarctic territory of Pengöpäts - with its own language. At first, King Robert was intrigued by the idea of "Talossa's equivalent of the Basques", but he very quickly turned strongly against the whole project. Part of this may have been that he saw Glaça as a dangerous political enemy, and Schivă as his sidekick as "the New Davron"; part of it may have been the idea of the Pengöpäts language taking attention away from his beloved glheþ naziunal (Talossan language); and part of it may have been that Schivă was, as she now admits, "combative to the point of obnoxiousness".

Whatever the reason, King Robert put heavy pressure on Uppermost Cort judges JJ and Art Verbotten to use, for the first time, their power to reject a citizenship application. Adiens Glaça resigned his citizenship in protest; he, Schivă and one other "Exodee" from Talossa formed their own experiment in micronationalism, the Free Commonwealth of Penguinea (taking its name from Glaça's Anglicization of "Pengöpäts").[22]

Talossa's Algeria: 1997-2001

Perhaps Ben was starting to get growing pains regarding the whole online thing. In any case, while King Robert I had always been politically combative with the "Old Growthers" whom he knew face to face, he seemed to have no compunction in becoming increasingly nasty to Cybercitizens who got in his way, politically or otherwise. Yes, it was at least partly out of his being protective of Talossa, but for the first time, the less-bright nature of the new-fangled consumer-internet was beginning to make itself known in Talossa: a fabulous opportunity for someone a thousand miles away to hurl invective (without libel, mind you) with no real-life consequences. Ben seems to have taken full advantage, and in small ways, his opponents may have given back at least a little of what they received in-kind from Talossa's founder.

Additionally, far too many people remained silent while Ben had his way with casting disparaging insults and jibes continually at the new Penguineans, and at any Talossans who were insufficently hostile to them. Danihél Viac'taldâ, for example, became Prime Minister in early 1998 and attempted to build friendly relations with the Penguinean "traitors". Facing a tirade of abuse from the King and his allies - including phone calls to his house in which Ben demanded to know why Dan was "ruining my one work of art" - Dan renounced his citizenship.[23] Carlüs Savúls, creator of the first Wittenberg and "from what I can tell, possibly the nicest person to have ever been a Talossan" (GV), was also driven out by Royal abuse and became a Penguinean - of course, therefore "proving" the King's accusations of treason, in true Catch-22 style.[24] "Decent, loyal Talossans will shun them", said Ben of the Penguineans, and - in the tradition of the McCarthyist Red Scare - saw no difference between a Penguinean and any Talossan who showed insufficient hatred for the 'traitors'; he even attempted to pass a law making it a crime for any Talossan to communicate with a Penguinean[25]. For years after, Ián Anglatzarâ stood as the most prominent of those who stayed around and defended those who left as anything but the 'traitors' Ben made them out to be.

This was during the very time when micronationalism online had its flowering and heyday.[26] A time when Talossa should have been united in its public face as the leader in that flowering, making Ben the king of the internet[27]...

However, the steady stream of new Talossans continued: Chirisch Cavéir became Prime Minister soon after the mass-exodus. Cybercits Tomás Gariçéir, Ián Anglatzarâ and JP Ventrutx attended TalossaFest held that year. TNN also ceased publication for good as a regular print publication, though JJ continued to put TNN-blurbs on Witt and elsewhere online for some years following.

In the year 2000, a remarkable thing happened with Talossa's publicity: Wired magazine's issue 8.03 (March 2000) that featured an eight-page spread all about Talossa. Written by Alex Blumberg, it remains the greatest piece ever written on the Regipäts by a non-Talossan and captured with remarkable accuracy a snapshot of the country at that exact moment in time. The one exception is that, contrary to a quote from Chên Velméir in the article, Talossans actually would hang out together.

"This article is how three of us found out about Talossa: Margretâ Proßelitéir, M. Dinítz, and myself," says Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h. "On 5 August 2000, the three of us along with Amadâ Ascúnsväts, Ben's significant other, became citizens. At this writing [4 August 2020], I am the only one still left doing Talossa."

From 1996 to 2001 and with a ton of help from Tomás Gariçéir, work on the Talossan language continued. The Second Edition of the Treisoûr (the official dictionary of the Talossan language) was published in 1997.

Unfortunately, Ben's continued verbal abuse against those who disagreed with him - whether on the Penguinean 'traitors', religion, or politics (if a Cybercit) - continued. December 2000 saw Flip Legerbôiç, a Calvinist (if memory serves), flee for the hills, and during this year, Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h remembers Ben saying, "You are scum, Béiâ [Cruciani]. I mean it personally. You are scum." Béiâ had committed the unpardonable sin of being an outright communist. By all accounts, she was actually a nice person.

Finally, in June 2001, Ián Anglatzarâ, Béiâ, and the rest of their Liberal Party (the third one of that name in Talossan history and unrelated to the first two) had had enough. After King Robert stated that he would never allow the Liberal Party to form a government even if they won an election outright, the Liberals quit Talossa en-masse.[28] "Too many of us stayed silent," says Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h.

November 2001 saw the most infamous Wittenberg crash of all-time,[29] taking our Wittenberg forum record of Talossa's reaction to the 9-11 terrorist atrocity with it with no hope of retrieval. Martí-Pàir Furxheir had in January 2001 established the Talossa Database System, and Talossa would be now be a greatly inferior entity without his continuing efforts. January 2001 also saw a bright star, Bill Cooper, become a citizen.

Talossa headed into 2002 in an atmosphere of recovery - "at least, in Ben's eyes. It is true, however, this period of time was dull," says GV. Talossan society still revolved all-too-much around how mad Ben was at someone at any given moment. But Ben had finally driven all his 'enemies' out. Of course, as a consequence of that, Talossa began to get, well..., boring. It would not stay that way.

2002-2003: All Hell Gyrates Loose

In retrospect, the breakup in late 2002 of the ancient Progressive Conservative Party (PC) was inevitable. Ben could not get what he wanted done with the PC having become inert after more than a decade of unchallenged majority government, and Chirisch Cavéir was just plain bored.

In late 2002, Cavéir and Gariçéir teamed up to form the Grey Congress Party, beating out Ben's announcement of his revival of the old Black Hand Party with Wes Aquilâ by about two days.[30] Ben's pocket-votes would go with him, and he would become the most powerful political force in the country. Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h suddenly found himself at the head of a three-way coalition. A full accounting - from GV's perspective, at least - of the years 2002-2004 in Talossa is found in his book A Nation Sundered, now in its third edition, having been republished in 2019. He gives a very quick summation of events in his own words below.

To be succinct, the whole thing was the biggest clusterf**k in Talossan history, but can be summarized thusly:

In October 2003, I had been PM since 25 June 2002 and wanted to step down. I had been incommunicado for a week (my fault on that), and it was clear to me having Chirisch Cavéir as my Deputy Prime Minister, ready to take over when I was done as PM, was the perfect way to leave office.

What I was unaware of was when Chirisch and Queen Amadâ met at TalossaFest held a few months earlier, they haaaaaated each other. There was no way in hell Ben and Amadâ were going to be happy with Cavéir as Seneschál, and they did not accept my selection of him.[31]

The animus between 'The Ascunväts-Madison Arrangement' (married by now) and Cavéir continued unabated, and and the following exchange took place on Wittenberg at the end of that year:

[Gödafrïeu:]> > The healing has already begun. But it is my humble opinion that the chief problem in this is that you and Chirisch Cavéir cannot get along.

[Ben:]> Then Chirisch should leave. It would be good for everybody.

[Cavéir] Hey - Ben. Maybe you should do what your mother did all thse years ago.[32]

The National Schism begins: 2004

Needless to say, the entire country took a collective gasp of stunned silence. Soon thereafter came this:

[Andrïeu Lorêntz:] Nor does it mean that his amazingly distasteful (I just can’t come up with a phrase that expresses how I felt when I saw the stuff about your mother-- I’m not sure there are strong enough words in the language for it) insults are excusable.
[RBM:] It wasn’t so much the slander against my mother that bothered me, it was his declaration that he wants me dead. Personally, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that someone like Cavéir is fully capable of murder. There is obviously some kind of moral line that is crossed when you call for someone else’s death-- that isn’t politics, and it isn’t even personal, it’s... transdavronian. (I have trouble finding words to describe Cavéir, too. ;-)[33]

[RBM:] As much as I may be shouting into the wind here, I remain politically independent and I am not necessarily committed to any party. But, I can’t be morally neutral--when I see wrong in Talossa, and especially if nobody else wants to do anything about it, I won’t be silent.
[Mic'haglh Loquatsch:] Perhaps the reason that nobody else wants to do anything about it is that nobody else agrees that what you see is wrong - or even that what you see is necessarily what is really going on.
[RBM:] I am quite willing to accept that “nobody else” thinks death threats are a serious issue, even when they come from someone with a background of violent crime. I just happen to disagree. It’s a free country.
[Mic'haglh Loquatsch:]Death threats from someone with a background of violent crime. Right. In that case, I might suggest that you go to the American authorities to get a restraining order against this violent criminal.
[RBM:] Already been done.[34]

In an effort to drive Chirisch Cavéir out of Talossa, Ben Madison had attempted to conflate Cavéir's publicly-available record of petty crime with the records connected with real abuse Amadâ had received from a previous relationship. The King had crossed a line; his online slander might now potentially have had real-life effects on Cavéir's battle for custody of his son and other things in his life. Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h calls this "the truly horrible thing that happened in Talossa during this time: a Talossan using extra-Talossan means to get back at another Talossan. Whether he and Amadâ really thought Chirisch Cavéir was a violent criminal or not is something we may never know for absolute certain."

Behind the scenes with Those Other Than Ben: 2003-2004

Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h was part of a "clandestine" email list at the time of Talossans of all political stripes who were increasingly concerned at the King's "scorched-earth" approach to his conflict with C. Cavéir.

The true history of Talossa is not so much the true things found in public presentations, books, forums, but the things found in the secret places: the water cooler, email, and on the phone. Given we are talking about 2003-2004, social media had not come to the forefront and would not until 2005.

In Talossan history at this time was the 'SANE' email group, which included everyone who were utterly opposed to what was going on with Ben and enough to the point where they advocated Ben's expulsion from the Kingdom altogether. This group included among others, Mike L., GV, and yes, Ián Metáiriâ. It must be made clear JJ was in on all our discussions. Only at the last, as close to 1 June 2004 as he could, I expect, did he make it known to us he was staying put in the Kingdom with Ben after all. Had he joined the Republic with us, the Kingdom of Talossa might very well have ceased to exist, but in the end, I expect, JJ chose his real-life friendship with Ben over the now real-life friendships he had made with many other people.

Certainly, this is a sentiment he could have shared far-earlier, and it is thought in some circles JJ planned things to happen in exactly this way: possibly string us along in the SANE email group to make us believe he was taking a real stand, and then throw us under the bus at the end.

In his defence, his friendship network outside Talossa perhaps was, I strongly expect, limited to an extent. It was difficult being openly-gay in the United States during the 1990s and up to as I write this in August 2020, and in the end, he knew Ben was possibly one of the few fair-weather friends he might have had. I like to think he had many, but who knows.

In the end, he did not stand up to Ben's vendetta against Kane and by doing so made the Kingdom an even-more toxic place to be. I like to think JJ was conflicted over all this, and if I know him at all, he was.[35]

Many years of built-up resentment toward Ben over all sorts of things he had said against other people with this on top of what GV now terms "the Vendetta", tore the country apart, and Talossa nearly went down for good in April 2004. Instead, eleven citizens founded the Republic of Talossa, and with that event on 1 June 2004 came the start of almost eight years of 'National Schism'. At this stage, Martí-Pàir Furxheir was owner/operator of Wittenberg X[36] and the Talossan database and owner of the domain name talossa.com. In retrospect, it was frighteningly easy for the new Republic to simply "appropriate" most of Talossa's online property.

"In hindsight, we did it wrong," says Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h:

In our rage and anger, we elected to cut off the Wittenberg accounts of everyone who was not among us Founding Parents of the Republic instead of doing the right thing and just throwing Ben and Amadâ off Witt. Had we done in just those two accounts... we would have gotten a thousand times more sympathy from the many Talossans who did not leave with us in what amounted to Talossa's third mass-exodus. In the genuine hurt over us commandeering talossa.com and Witt, the vendetta against Cavéir was obscured in the eyes of many - much to Ben's absolute delight.[37]

King Robert I might have lost Talossa's websites, discussion form and domain name; but he had also dismissed the last bastion of all those who would oppose him. But there were two people who would come on the scene. Two people who would rewrite the script... Fritz von Buchholtz and John Woolley were waiting in the wings of the non-Talossan world, and Woolley alone would prove to be more than a match for the King of Talossa.

The Dawn of the Talossan Republic: 2004

Another long quote from Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h is appropriate here:

I really cannot describe how dark things were in March and April 2004.

The first days and weeks of the 2004-2012 Republic of Talossa were the exact opposite of April and May 2004. We felt liberated. We felt free.

And we were doing Talossa the way it should have always been done. We were free from the fetters of Ben and the musty 1997 Organic Law. We opened the doors to all of Talossa (save Ben and Amadâ only, though at first we did exclude two others who had supported the Madisons most of all) to come and join us. We quickly recognized our error with the 'two others', and officially gave them an invite post-haste.

Art Verbotten was among the first to take up our offer. And with Ián Anglatzarâ's joining us, his coming alone reversed the June 2001 Liberal mass-exodus. If he was one of us, Béiâ and everyone else would know they would be welcomed with open arms as they would be in the Kingdom of today.

Then, there was Miestră Schivă. A much-more mellow Miestră as I understand it... Her being with us alone would have been a triumph. And with two Wittenberg posts,[38] I was convinced she was anything but the the repulsive creature Ben had led me and others to believe she had been.

Everything was now reversed. For me, Ben had finally been exposed as the monster he truly was, and those who he maligned were vindicated. As the proud heathen Chirisch Cavéir put it, "Jesus was Satan and Satan was Jesus.".

As for the Kingdom, it was left in shock and desolation. But it was also resolute in its indignation at us placing the innocent in the same place with the guilty by pulling their Witt accounts. Again, the vendetta against Cavéir was all-too-forgotten, and Ben fanned the flames of the people's resentment toward us.

Perhaps that resentment helped keep the Kingdom alive in those critical first days when Wittenberg XI on proboards.com was set up. It would become the longest-lasting Wittenberg of them all, only being retired in early 2020 for the new Wittenberg XIV.

A friend of the King's from way back, Milwaukee-era gaming shop proprietor Fritz Buchholtz, was brought in by Ben to help rebuild the Kingdom in the wake of the Split. Grigôriu Ràxalâ was also brought in to help things along.

Ben had won. But he saw to it himself he would lose in the end.

The Last Year of the 'Old Talossa': 2004-2005

As he had done with so many others before him, Ben kept on with berating the 'splitters' and 'quitters' with willing help from too many people or abject silence from the innocent rest. January to August 2005 saw King Robert bring a progression of willing people into citizenship to make a new Talossa; but within an incredibly short period of time, he managed to alienate nearly everyone to the point where, politically isolated and under 'attack' from all sides, he decided to do a Cartman: "Screw you guys. I'm going home."

GV reflects:

From what I can tell, the summer and autumn of 2004 in the Kingdom was a time of recovery from a terrible shock. It is yet another of the long list of Talossan miracles, the Kingdom managed to stay around and did not implode on itself due to apathy alone. Enough Kingdom people were anything but apathetic. I look at January 2004 as being the point at which the Kingdom turned from what had happened and began to look to the future, moving on from what was.

In May 2005, John Woolley came to to the Kingdom of Talossa, making his first appearance on Wittenberg. And with him came his family from Colorado and his friends as well. They numbered fewer than ten, but in Kingdom societal and political terms, they would become a critical mass with the strength of hundreds. John immediately saw what sort of chap Ben was: brilliant and vindictive. As he said in an interview with a Republican magazine, "Boy, can that guy lie!"[39]

Buchholtz and Woolley set themselves up as firm critics of the King. They spent the whole of June, July, and early-August 2005 doing that. But it was how Ben handled the Talossan language that did him in.

King Robert had decided to prevent the Talossan Republic using the Talossan language, which in practical terms meant withholding Talossan-language materials and other things related to the language from the whole of the world. He even suggested starting a brand-new Talossan language, from scratch, that only those politically loyal to him would be able to learn.[40] This was something Tomás Gariçéir could not accept.

When Ben realized Tomás was no longer completely on his side, he realized in Talossan political terms he may still be monarch, but aside from a few Old-Growth and Cybercit friends, he was possibly utterly alone. On about 15 August 2005, he and Amadâ renounced their Talossan citizenships, and he abdicated the throne.

With that, he left the Kingdom in the lurch. Things were so tenuous, had Dan Lauriér and others not stepped into the breach - but especially Dan - the Kingdom might have gone under right then and there.

Dan Lauriér's last great contribution to Talossa came as he was the sole Justice currently on the Uppermost Cort. When Ben used Wes Aquilâ as a citizen-proxy to sue to have the citizenships of twenty brand-new citizens annulled due to procedural irregularities, Justice Lauriér ruled against the former king, saying that things in Talossan governance had been done in an ad-hoc manner since the beginning.

Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h regards that landmark 2005 ruling against Wes Aquilâ / Ben Madison as "the start of what we can call the 'modern' Kingdom of Talossa."

'Pan-Talossa' instead of 'One Talossa': 2005-2011

With Ben and Amadâ gone, why did the Republic not re-unify with the Kingdom immediately?

Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h suggests:

Firstly, we were as a group too invested with our new constitution and way of governance, founded on part of a profound distrust of the institution of the Talossan monarchy, the prestige and power of which Ben used to such terrible effect. Secondly, and most of all, Ben had done too good a job at turning us into second-class Talossans in the eyes of the majority of the Kingdom. Why return to a community where one would be hated? As a group, we elected to stay put.

By the end of 2005, the Kingdom political order that had opposed Ben's vindictiveness had run its course. With the demise of the Conservative Loyalist Party, the last vestiges of the ancient Talossan political order ceased to exist.

Into the resultant power-vacuum stepped the RUMP[41], a party founded by Ma la Mha, Lord Hooligan, a close ally and in-person best friend / practically-a-brother of John Woolley's.[42] This party would go on to have a nine-term, six-year streak of Cosă majorities that would not end until after Reunision in 2012. In Talosan history, only the Progressive Conservatives were more successful. In the immediate wake of the CLP's demise and for a good while before then, John, Mà, and others had not been idle, and for its entire existence, the RUMP was seen as 'the party of the King' as the old PC was during Ben's time.

Upon the abdication of King Robert I for the second time, the crown theoretically passed to his 7 year old nephew, who became King Louis I. This was felt to be inappropriate by a broad range of opinion, especially after Louis' mother confirmed that she didn't want her child involved in any of this. Subsequently John Woolley became King John I, by act of the Ziu and referendum.

"We in the Republic had no problem with him personally," says Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h on 4 August 2020. "We were horrified at his election because we felt no-one currently then-active in Talossa was worthy to take the Talossan throne. No Old-Growther wanted the job. And don't get me started on Louis, the boy-king, whose reign was probably illegal both inside and outside Talossa."

Miestră Schivă concurs:

There was a suggestion after KR1 abdicated of having a "permanently empty throne". That could have been a constitutional compromise that would have accelerated Reunision by about 6 years. But John had at that stage been a Talossan citizen for only about a year - okay, more time than King Robert II had been a citizen before he took the throne. But the leaders of the Republic had been Talossans for years, in some cases decades before that. KR1 might well have been a dangerous abuser, but his decades of creativity and hard work did give him a kind of right of proprietorship over Talossa. John didn't have that. We considered this a politicisation of the monarchy to consolidate power among John's friends, and at the time we simply rejected it.

2007 in the Kingdom was for that country a cultural high-water mark. Talossan heraldry had been to the point nearly the exclusive domain of Ben and JJ, but in 2007 in conjunction with John's accession to the throne, a quasi-Society for Creative Anachronism spirit took over the Kingdom. Coats of arms for Talossan citizens, usually becoming their avatars on Wittenberg, became a new and extremely popular custom.

GV reflects:

It is easy to see why so many look fondly to the halcyon days of the 2005-2011 Kingdom, especially the year 2007. The Kingdom was as internally and as genuinely happy as it had ever been and did more Talossan-cultural work during the year 2007 alone than had been done in the previous half-decade.
The cultural zenith (not a sentiment shared by all in Talossa today) of this time was the 'Arestada' (decree) of December 2007 which drastically simplified the spelling of the Talossan language, eliminating much of the arcana Ben had put in over the years. The Republic did not receive the Arestada well (to put it mildly), particularly because of the absolute refusal on the Kingdom's part at that time to engage the Republic in any meaningful way such that what became Reunision could have been hastened.

A Modest Proposal: December 2011 to April 2012

"In the end, the thing that killed the 2004-2012 Republic of Talossa came down to the fact once Ben and Amadâ were gone from the Kingdom, the Republic no longer had any logical reason to exist," argues Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h. "On 15 August 2005, our work was done, and we should have, with dignity, dissolved the Republic right then and there and come back to the Kingdom."

Miestră Schivă heartily disagrees:

What killed the Republic was that the Kingdom was bigger, more fun, and had more legitimacy because it was attracting more citizens - which became a vicious cycle. The people who were involved in the Republic were very serious about the whole toytown-democracy aspect of Talossa, making constitutions, laws, elections, that kind of thing. But the Kingdom had coats of arms, what GV calls the "SCA" stuff. Much more attractive on the surface.

What many of us in the Republic wanted was a kind of détente, where Republic and Kingdom would live side-by-side, share culture, be friendly, every Talossan could live under the political system they preferred and we would be one nation. But the Kingdom point-blank refused to accept our right to exist. Kingdom citizens would harp on about how we had "BETRAYED, STOLEN, [and] KEPT" Wittenberg X, the domain name and the database. Kingdom speakers of the Talossan language unilaterally changed its spelling rules and didn't consult us.

The leadership of the Kingdom insisted as a matter of policy that they were the real Talossa and we were schismatics - this drove us crazy because, as I said before, the founders of the Republic had 10 times the collective Talossan history as the people who took over the Kingdom. It was the latter who changed Talossan culture fundamentally with the SCA stuff - some might say for the worse, but it certainly kept things fun and attractive for newbies. The Republic was politically and culturally defeated. But that left no room to move except Reunision... which some might say was the end of the Kingdom as it was!

As the last President of the Talossan Republic, Miestră Schivă contacted King John I and the leaders of the Kingdom in December 2011 with a "Modest Proposal". Due to a funny spelling mistake during that time by Lord Hooligan, this led to the process gaining the name of Reunision. On 20 April 2012[43], the Talossan Republic was dissolved and all its citizens became citizens of the Kingdom, founding a new Province of Fiôvâ to act as the embodiment of the Republican tradition. The National Schism came to an end.

In the end, the chief thing that made Reunision possible was everyone on both sides saw the need for immense pragmatism in the face of stagnation on both sides. No-one can doubt the political and societal shot-in-the-arm that the Reviensadéirs (former Republicans) gave Kingdom-life upon their return on 20 April 2012, thereby bringing the 2004-2012 Republic to the dignified end it so deserved. When Chirish Cavéir came home with the rest of the Republicans, the ghosts of 2003-2004 (and those of 1997) were laid to rest for good.

GV reflects:

It is no secret I was the most pro-reunification of any Republic citizen. And when the two countries came together, it was for me the culmination of years of work to help put back together what Ben Madison had torn apart. A part of me always felt that to have been the great unfinished business of my PMship, and to see it done with the Republic community coming home as intact as it did was for me the miracle for which I had hoped and prayed.

Post-Reunision: 20 April 2012 to present (8 August 2020)

At this writing (8 August 2020) and eight years after Reunision, Miestră Schivă's Free Democrats of Talossa - a centre-left party spanning republicans and liberal monarchists - are set to lead government for a third successive term. Successful referendums at the election of the 55th Cosă (legislature) made the Talossan monarchy non-hereditary and gave the power to name the Prime Minister to the Cosă, rather than the King. Reviensadeirs have allied with reform-minded monarchist citizens to successfully push for other democratic reforms which in the Kingdom, such as secret-ballot voting in elections.

In the summer of 2019, a figurative nuclear bomb detonated on the Talossan political scene - R. Ben Madison, the former King Robert I, reapplied for citizenship. He professed to have no further political ambitions, to have understood that the political oppositions he derided as "traitors" between 1997-2005 to have been simply good citizens with different politics than him, and to wish to rejoin Talossa to work on its culture.

Miestră Schivă, Prime Minister by that point, comments:

Everything that Ben was saying was fine on the surface. There was only one thing that still stuck in my craw. He hadn't just slandered me, C. Cavéir, the Liberal Party etc. He had outright lied about us. He had told lies in his history so that future citizens would learn we were the worst scumbags on the planet. He tried to ruin M-P Furxhéir's professional reputation. And when I confronted him about this, he denied that he'd even told falsehoods.

Our current immigration system[44] allows someone to gain citizenship after two weeks of participation in Talossa, if someone petitions. However, if 1/3 of the Cosă objects, this process is cancelled and it has to go to a vote. The Free Democrats in the Cosă, upon hearing Ben's denial of having lied, decided to trigger that provision, and require Ben's return to go to a vote of the legislature. At that point, Ben cancelled his citizenship application.

That's not the final end as far as I'm concerned. I believe in redemption and change and that it may well come one day R. Ben Madison will admit that he lied about us, he will repent and show his good will in building Talossa, and we will re-admit him. The story is not over yet.

GV reflects:

When in June 2019 Ben made known his desire to return to the Kingdom, I was shocked at how visceral my internal emotional reaction was. I later was annoyed with my public reaction to same on Wittenberg - way too melodramatic, but it was me being authentic. I concur with everything Miestră says above. I have many other thoughts on this matter, but this particular re-telling of history rightly disallows too much 'subjective' reflection by either 'winners' or 'losers'. But this I can say and do say: God is a god of miracles. Talossa is a miracle, and I have to choose to believe in and pray for such a reconciliation that not only mends the breach, but leaves the memory of mistakes made such they can be remembered by and learned from by future generations of Talossans.

As Talossan history unfolds, this page will be updated.

Cover: Vuode Palace - window to the Royal Bedroom - taken by GV in June 2002 during his first haxh to Talossa

Notes

  1. " February saw tragedy with the death of Ben Madison's mother, who died in her sleep of unknown causes. The family met to discuss the future, and it was decided to put the event behind them, and not get bogged down in sentimentalities. It was an event that gave young Ben his first experience with death, and he learned that a strong will was the only way to respond." - Big History, pp.34-5.
  2. Most notably by WIRED magazine's Alex Blumberg in 2000.
  3. The History Project (2007), p. 65.
  4. Big History, pp.32-3
  5. GV is in possession of Xeroxes of many issues of Støtanneu from 1996 through 1998, all of them being printouts given to him by Ben at what GV terms the '2002 Clark Graphics Xerox Party'. As of 8 August 2020, those issues have yet to be rendered in online-friendly editions.
  6. A. Verbotten, conversation with G. Valcádac'h, 2003.
  7. "It's up to Ben, as Creator and Incarnation of Talossa, to invent these interesting things. I am the gadfly." - D. Lauriér, 1986, quoted in Big History, p. 158. In conversation with GV in 2003, Art Verbotten used the term 'fly in the ointment'.
  8. Big History p.59-60
  9. Big History, p.85
  10. Conversation with G. Valcádac'h, 2000.
  11. The book to read is Metâiriâ, Ián U. Onward, Upward, Forward! A History of the Talossan National Party. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: TNN Press, c.1996.
  12. Big History, p. 127
  13. Big History, pp.130-1
  14. Big History, p. 245
  15. Big History, pp. 264-6.
  16. Ár Päts (2003 edition), p. 41
  17. The Talossan word for "kingdom".
  18. Ár Päts (2003 edition), p. 60
  19. When King Robert split the PC to revive the MN (Black Hand) party in 2002, he took all the pocket-votes from the unified PC with him.
  20. This document was Talossa's longest-lasting Constitutional document to date. By the time it was fully replaced in 2019, it had been amended so many times that more than half of it was unrecognizable from the original wording.
  21. M. Schivă, personal recollection.
  22. Penguinea dissolved in early 2001.
  23. D. Viac'taldâ related the detail about the phone call from Ben in a 1998 conversation with M. Schivă.
  24. GV relates: "Miestră told me years ago Carlüs in a phone call with Ben was 'reduced to tears', such was Ben's treatment of him on that occasion. Again, Ben from thousands of miles away could be quite nasty." Miestră replies: "I don't remember saying that precisely, but it sounds right. I do remember that Carlüs, who was in a vulnerable emotional state at the time, actually had nightmares about Ben physically abusing him."
  25. M. Schivă, personal recollection
  26. A must-read book is Jean Tisserand's Memoirs.
  27. A paraphrase of Art Verbotten's words to GV at Talossafest 2003.
  28. Wittenberg records from this time are lost; source is a conversation between M. Schivă and Ceváglh Scurzniol, who was an activist in this Liberal Party.
  29. Wittenberg VIII crash on 10 November 2001
  30. G. Valcádac'h, personal recollection.
  31. Chirisch Cavéir, however, has a different recollection: "[GV] has overdramatized a LOT. For example, I didn’t say I hated Amadâ. Ever. She disliked me, but I didn’t hate her for any reason. Her husband, on the other hand…"
  32. From Wittenberg X thread, "Poor Ben Madison. He just doesn't get it." (Witt X 7683), on December 28, 2003 - 05:50
  33. - R. Ben Donatüs, "RE: Profiles in Talossan Courage", Witt X 7798, posted on January 05, 2004 - 09:23
  34. "RE: Let’s take a breath, huh :)", Witt X 9267, posted by King Robert I on March 23, 2004 - 16:46
  35. Personal recollection, 24 August 2020
  36. Wittenberg X went online on 20 or 21 February 2003, and unlike its immediate predecessor was a huge (and technically-stable!) success.
  37. Personal recollection, 4 August 2020
  38. Wittenberg X was that which went online in February 2003 and which was appropriated by the Republic. Wittenberg XI is the proboards.com forum started by the Kingdom on 2 June 2004 and which was the Kingdom's forum until early 2020 when it was supplanted by Wittenberg XIV. Witt numbering is a confusing business and is too convoluted to be discussed by way of an endnote on a wiki-page. - GV 8 August 2020
  39. Interview with M. Schivă in Qator Itrìns v.2.n.3, October 2005
  40. M. Schivă, personal recollection.
  41. Originally this stood for Random Unilateral Movement Party, but the name of the party would go on to change every election while the acronym remained constant.
  42. Gödafrïeu Valcádac'h suggests that John's and Mà's friendship is a close historical parallel between that of JJ and King Robert I, at least in terms of its importance for Talossa.
  43. Students of pre-Cybercit Talossan history may snicker at the date. Being the birthday of Adolf Hitler, the "post-fascist" JJ chose 20 April 1991 to take office as Prime Minister, "as an in-your-face to the spooked Leftists" (Ár Päts (2003), p.43.) The timing was in fact pure coincidence.
  44. As of June 2019 when Ben tried to come back.