The Duchy of Auvergne, Auvergne, is a medium sized constitutional monarchy in Western Europe. It is the second largest state in Francia and the only Francian state in which the majority of the population are protestant. France borders it to the north and west (and also has a small exclave to the south-east), to the south is Aragon and to the east lies Burgundy. Its capital is Clharmou. It has a population of about 1.5 million.
The official language is Auvergnat, which is cognate with the Occitan dialects spoken in the south of Francia. French, though markedly different to Parisian French, is widely spoken too.
The Head of State is Duke Philippe II.
The currency is the French Livre (FLV). It shares this with several of its neighbours but mints its own designs.
Once a part of the Kingdom of Aquitaine, then Carolingian Francia, the Duchy of Auvergne split away from control by the Aquitainian kings in Bordeaux as royal authority collapsed in the late 900s.
It would be in Clharmou in 1095 that Pope Urban II called upon Christendom to save Jerusalem from the 'infidel' Seljuk Turks, so beginning the Crusades.
Historically the Dukes of Bourbon were often a rival to the French kings and while France struggled to reclaim a semblance of authority throughout Francia after the collapse of the Frankish kingdom, Auvergne happily snapped up neighbouring lordships and counties with virtually no opposition. During the Albigensian War (1209-1218) it sided with Aragon, though was less supportive of the Cathar heretics, and defeated France at the Battle of Roanne, virtually securing Aragon's eventual victory. Duke William IX earned himself a place in Dante's Inferno thanks to his perceived support for the heretics. Having proved itself more than capable of taking on the French kings, and by this point controlling the largest portion of French land, the dukes were courted heavily by the Holy Roman Empire, seeing them as a powerful balance to French, and in time, Aragonese power.
As a result of Imperial subsidy it often sided with Arles during its frequent Burgundian wars but success here masked its relative decline. The dukes fundamentally refused to accept the legitimacy of King Henry II and therefore became powerful allies of the Luxembourg Emperors Sigismund II and John III as they sought to weaken France whilst they dealt with issues elsewhere. Several plots, such as those in 1498 and 1504, with Luxembourg to usurp Henry II and install the dukes as rulers of France came to nothing; Henry II was a considerable military tactician and led the cavalry-heavy Auvergnese into set-piece battles they were doomed to lose.
Essentially pariahs within Francia and dangerously close to complete military defeat the Dukes looked to capitalise on a new wave of populism; Lutheranism, to shore up their power. William XIV would convert in 1537, beginning a short civil war. Lutheranism altered the diplomatic landscape; surrounded by Catholic territory it began to rely more and more on the goodwill of Aragon and assistance from German Lutheran states. Whilst holding back from joining the Schmalkaldic League, despite offers of subsidy, it followed Aragon into the Fifty Years War in 1639 but was militarily outclassed by its old allies and had to cede various territories to Burgundy.
Auvergne's power waned as its neighbours grew in strength and population and it has always remained a largely agricultural country. As its usefulness to the Empire disappeared it began a series of actions that would bring it much more into line with Francian community until the point it stood shoulder to shoulder with France in opposing the Iberian Revolution. This would lead it to adopting the French Livre and sending representatives to the Francian Parlement in Tours.
It is now comparatively sparsely populated compared to the rest of Western Europe and much of its recent history is dominated by concerted political attempts to modernise and reinvigorate the country.
Auvergne is governed by a single-chambered Parlement which is elected every three years. The Head of State is Duke Philippe II and his Prime Minister is Guy Tautou. The Ducal family retains some executive power and this has been brought to bear frequently as political struggles to modernise the economy sharply divide society.