The Duchy of Rhöntal (German: Herzogtum Rhöntal) is a constitutional monarchy in in western-central Europe. It borders on the German Länder of Hesse to the west and north-west and Thuringia to the north-east and east as well as Nahenhofen-Grotenburg to the south.
The literal translation of the country's name is " valley of the Rhön". The name originally meant the area between Redlingen, the Rhön and the Wakel, which also contains the Rhönwald - a small mountain ridge-.
The country is surrounded by mountains. Which are the Brehngau in the nort-west, the Saargau in the north-east, the Norngau in the south-east and the Holtzberg in the south. The landscape of Rhöntal mainly consists of heavily forested mountains and hills as well as wide river valley, for example the valley of the Saar. The highest point is the Brehngau with hight of 1001 metres.
The west of Rhöntal consists of the fertile Mündland plain, which has a higher density in population and industry than the eastern parts. The country is drained over the Rhön which flows into the Han at its southern border in Hackeberg. The lowest point is at the meeting point of Brehn und Han in Brehnmund at a height of 226 metres above the sea level.
Rhöntal has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. Because of the low mountain ranges between the Atlantic Ocean the western border of Rhöntal the climate is more continental than the western parts of Germany. This shows mainly in colder winters and dryer summers than their western neighbour.
Because of the surrounding mountains Rhöntal has the lowest precipitation amount of all German countries. The town of Bornen holds the record of lowest amount of rain in a year with 242 millimetres in 1911. In average the country sees 400 to 500 millimetres a year at an average temparature of 8,5 °C (1961–1990 in Katharinenberg). The hilllands in central Rhöntal are within the climactic average of Germany. The Rhönwald for example has 624 millimetres precipitation at an average temperature of 7,8 °C. The mountains have a less friendly climate.
The country is divided in three provinces. Two of which (Mündland, Quellland) are located on the mainland. These are subdivided into seven counties with 116 communities. 15 of these communities have the status of a town or city. The communities are have limited self-governing powers.
The third province are the Hawk islands (German:Habichtsinseln) which consists of several islands in the Atlantic whereof only Habichtsberg is inhabited.
The city of Firmar is the capital and the seat of government of Rhöntal. Firmar is one of the leading financial cities in Europe which is especially important for the 52 German institutions of the 165 represented banks.
Towns and cities
62 percent of the inhabitants live in in cities as of 2003. The biggest city is the capital Firmar with 2.2 Mio. inhabitants (Agglomeration 2.8 Mio.). The bigger cities lie in the south-west in Mündland, where the duchy's industry is concentrated. Most importantly Hackeberg (500,200) and Brehnmund (375,400). See: List of cities in Rhöntal
About 50% of the population of Rhöntal speak the traditional dialect of Grotisch with German being spoken by all.
Rhöntal has a population of 7,856,489. 34.6 % people are foreigners. 93.9 % of which are German. 20.14 % of people living in the capital are foreigners.
71 % of the population are Protestant most of which belong to the old state religion of the Rhöntaler Unierte Kirche. 20 % are roman catholic and belong to the diocese of Firmar which is subordinate to the arch-diocese of Rumen. The rest are atheists, muslims and jews.
The Barony of Rhöntal is documented since 1024 for the area of the Rhönwald. The first known Lord of Rhöntal is documented for 1150. From this point in time the von Rohentale family owned the land. When they went extinct at the beginning of the 14th century their estates were inherited by the Princes of Redlingen among them the by now elevated county of Rhöntal. The Princes of Redlingen in turn were succeded by the Landgraves of Groten in 1450. After one generation the estates were divided an the principality of Redlingen containing the county of Rhöntal was inherited by Henry, Landgrave of Groten-Redlingen the imperial scharwart the post of the highest quartermaster in the landgraviate of Groten. But his grandson John I, Scharnwart of Redlingen, Landgrave of Groten-Redlingen lost most of his holdings to the Count of Firmar in the Battle of Firmar. 1575 his sons were each granted a imperial county on the rest of their estates. That meant the quasi independence of the little county of Rhöntal under John II.
When John great-grandson John IV Konrad von Scharnwart-Rhöntal married Adelheid von Firmar in 1608 he succeded to the County of Firmar and because of this great increase in power his son was elevated to Prince of Rhöntal. His great-grandnephew Johann X Georg von Scharnwart-Rhöntal was created first Duke of Rhöntal in 1765 for his enduring servitude to the German Kaiser.
For the next 80 years the most Dukes were underage and died before they could have children. For that reason John XXIV. Frederick, 15th Duke of Rhöntal ascended to throne in 1840 following his twin brother who had died at the age of 14.
Under his rule the country rose from yet another middle German state to a military power to be reckoned with. With Hermann Zelit claiming the Hawk islands for Rhönntal and establishing Friedrichsstadt on Habichtsberg in 1850 the country gained an important outpost.
When his son John XXV succeded him in 1888 the country was prosperous and well connected. With outbreak of the Great War the country was neutral at first. But joined the allies in 1916 because the Germans and Austrians kept disrespecting their borders.
The democratic movement of 1919 saw Rhöntal adapting the concept of a constitutional monarchy with the establishment of a parliament. Because of the growing German threat the Rhöntal borders were shut from 1934 on. In 1935 the order of succesion was changed from salic law to male preference primogeniture.
Rhöntal is a constitutional monarchy in form of a parlamentarian democracy. Under the constitutionof 1919 the Duke of Rhöntal is the head of state, while the legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Rhöntal on which is voted every four years on the first weekend of June. Which inturn votes from among them the chancellor who is the head of government.
The interiour politics of Rhöntal are focused on social peace and security. While the public debate revolves around keeping the social security systems, reforming the educational system and increasingly environmental questions.
Hoffnung und Frieden. Hope and Peace is the motto of the ducal family hoping to rely on diplomatic solutions and not involving the country's big military.
After the member of Parliament of the CVR, Rurik Kaldernberg in 2006 introduced a bill to change the tricolour of green, white and blue to a flag of green and blue whith the white lion in the centre, there was a great public discussion on the matter. Despite polling reporting a majority for the change chancellor Sebastian von Scharnwart-Henrichenburg announced in June 2007 that under his government no such step would be taken.
Head of State
Duchess Johanna II is the head of state of Rhöntal since 2007 when she succeded her mother who had been ruling the country since 1943. She is married to Prince Johann Georg of Rhöntal a former Chancellor under whom she served has Minister of Defense. The Duke has a wide array of executive and legislative powers; he appoints and dismisses the cabinet and executes all laws. The Duke is politically neutral. Since it's creation the reigning duke or duchess hasn't disbanded parliament once. The ducal authorities and privileges are protected by the constitution and the monarchs constitutional right to give permission to any constitutional change.
- See also
The executive branch
The exekutive powers lie in the hands of the Duke and the cabinet. The cabinet consists of the Chancellor and 15 ministers. An institution counciling the Duke is the Privy Council of Rhöntal member of which are appointed by the Monarch and the Small Council for life. A veto of the Privy Council stops a bill for three months.
The parliament, colloquially called Altherrensitzung (old men's conference) , has 60 Sitze. It's sessions are presided over by chairperson. Members are elected for four years
Since 2010 the parliament's composition is as follows: TPR 33 CVR 22, SPR 1, PNU 3, GWV 1.
The elections to parliament are held every four years on the first sunday in June. The country is divided into three voting districts each has a number of seats in parliament assigned to it that is proportional to it's population (Mündland (28), Firmar (12), Quellland and Habichtsberg (20)). The voters vote a party or give an invalid ballot. A Party needs 1.6 % of valid votes to get into parliament. Since 1919 voting is mandatory. Since 1990 everyone over 16 has to vote.
Traditionally there are two parties in Rhöntal the TPR (TPR) (The Blue Party) and the Christian Association of Rhöntal (CVR) (The Green Party). With few seats there are the Socialist Paty of Rhöntal (SPR) (The Red Party), the Party for Nature and Environment (PNU) (The Yellow Party) as well as Grotian Voterassociation (GWV).
Because of it's open economy Rhöntal is increasingly dependent on global economic trends.
The 2007 budget showed the impact of the harder economic pressure but declined to cut into the extensive social security.
Because of low taxes on petrol, fuel tourism from Germany and Nahenhofen-Grotenburg brings 600 million Euros a year.
In many aspect the legal system of Rhöntal looks like the German one.
The Duchy of Rhöntal sees itself as a Rechtsstaat, which means that all governmental power has to be founded in the law. Someone who is affected in his rights can seek legal protection at court of justice against it. The judges are independent and the government has no instuctional power over them.
Civil and criminal cases are heard in Amtsgerichte (Local Courts), Bezirksgerichte (District Courts) and Kreisgerichte (County Courts), in labour cases by the Labour Courts and the County Labour Courts, cases of administrative law are heard by administrative courts and county administrative court, cases concerning social law are heard social courts and county social and financial law cases are decided by financial courts of which there exists only one per county. For cases concerning protection of industrial property and patents the Patent Court for Rhöntal exists while cases concerning trademarks or coats of arms are heard by the Herold's Courts of which the Court of the King of Arm is the highest. As last appelate courts there exist the Hight Courts of Justice: The High Court of Rhöntal as highest level of jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, the High Labour Court, the High Administrative Court, the High Social Court and the High Court for Finance. Constitutional Questions are heard before the Constitutional Court of Rhöntal whose decisions have legislative power and bind the decisions of other courts.
Rhöntal has a Military of 60,000 men and women starke Freiwilligenarmee. Military service is optional but increases the chances when applying for a job in the executive branch. Every citizen of the EU living at least 3 years in Rhöntal can aply for military services without change of nationality.
The Rhöntal military are NATO alllies and similary organized and structured.
Rhöntal has two intelligence services first the Ducal Intelligence Service of Rhöntal (HNR) reporting to the Government Secretary and the military intelligence service belonging to the Investigative service of the Armed Forces (EDS) called NAR. The HNR gathers and evaluates information on threats on Rhöntal, its allies and international organisations with seat in Rhöntal.
Membership in international organisations
- European union (EU)
- Council of Europe
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- International Monetary Funds (IMF)
- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
Relations between Germany and Rhöntal
The German-Rhöntal realtions are consistent with the close partnership of the European Union and the western defence alliance. Rhöntal foreign policy makes it a priority to keep the excellent relations to it's immediate neighbours Germany and Nahenhofen-Grotenburg which has spawned a bunch of crossborder programs.
The economic relations between Rhöntal and Germany are especially close. Germany receives the largest portion of Rhöntal export goods and at the same is with 27 percent the country with the most imports to Rhöntal. Germany gets 26 percent of Rhöntal export goods with France (17.4 percent) in secondplace. Of the 165 different bank with seat in Rhöntal, 52 are branches of German financial instutions.
The cultural relations between Germany and Rhöntal are close and manifold. There is much cross-border exchange on the areas of art, theater, literature, music, etc. Rhöntal media frequently reports on events in Germany. Because of the shared language German media is widely consumed.Because of a cultural agreement signed by representatives of both countries on October 28, 1980 Rhöntal students can earn degrees at German Universities. At the moment about 1,450 Rhöntal student study at German universities and colleges predominantly in the fields of engineering and natural Sciences.