Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 406
Even they had to admit Claude's idea was radical. For Aueran citizens, gaining actual property was the key to a peaceful and fulfilled life. They could even leave the property to their descendants. On the mainland, it was far from easy to get a piece of land or a shop, however. Not everyone could afford the kind of land or property prices demanded by cities and town governments.
Angelina, for instance, had wanted to buy a piece of land. She had set her sights on woods. So, she bought three small private woodlands and had Claude buy the nearby woodland with his status as a captain to merge them into nearly 660 acres of land for the family. She spent all eight thousand crowns she got from selling off the building they owned as well as the three thousand crowns Claude left in the bank.
In Aueras, between farmland, pastures, and woodland, woodland was the cheapest. Angelina had wanted to buy the public woodland in Whitestag. As most of the wood had been felled, it was sold to Claude for half the price, and yet it still cost 12 crowns an acre. Coupled with the three empty private woodland, Angelina spent nearly 12 thousand crowns on 660 acres of treeless woodland.
To develop the woodland further, she took a loan of six thousand crowns from the national bank and used it to repair the roads in the woodland and planted young trees. The investment would only pay off in another five or six years.
A huge price had to be paid for a household to own property. Given that woodland was considered part of the wilderness, it sold for cheap. Pastures were more expensive, being about 60 crowns an acre. Very little was ever up for sale. As for farmland, it was usually owned by the local government, each acre costing well over 200 crowns.
As a result, when the the 100 thousand households of soldiers discharged after the last war heard that each soldier emigrating to Nubissia would be given 1.6 acres of farmland, they didn't hesitate. They knew they would never own that much land even if they worked hard for the rest of their lives. Now, Claude was trying to take advantage of it and get the low-ranked officers getting ready to retire to stay on as voluntary officers.
Take for instance, the average retiring officer. In all their years of service, their food and clothing expenses were all covered by the army. If they didn't waste their hard-earned salary, 15 years of service and the additional bonuses they'd have received for the previous two war's victories would amount to only 200 crowns.
With that money, they could get married and buy a house. But it was far from enough to buy 1.6 acres of farmland. There were also other costs to consider, such as their children's school fees. Unless the veteran landed an office job in the government, they couldn't enjoy life by any stretch of the imagination. There was a fine, but definite line between surviving and living.
Welikro's father, Kubrik, was a dignitarian and returned home after serving 15 years in the royal guard. He could only rely on the proceeds from hunting to sustain his family. When he offended Mayor Robert as the new town guard was about to be formed, he was constantly troubled by the local thugs and was forced to move away from Whitestag.
The most tragic part about his story was that he had no property. While he was known as the best hunter in Whitestag, he basically had to rely on his luck for his next meal. On bad days, his hunting trips would be nothing but wastes of time that might entail some risk to his safety and life. Had he had even one acre of farmland, he would be able to ignore the formation of the town guard and manage his farm. But since he didn't, he was counting on a job from the local administration but had to leave town for the royal capital due to the conflict he got into with the mayor.
While land in the colonies was not nearly as expensive as that back on the mainland, it would still cost a large sum for the average peasant officer. Many thought about the inconvenience of buying land in another continent so far away from home. They were probably turned off the idea altogether.
Claude had instructed Myjack to buy near 300 acres of land not far from Lanu for her sister to make a farmstead. Even though he enjoyed many price cuts and benefits, being a major-general of the kingdom, it still cost him six crowns per acre.
That was why Claude wanted to use the land most suited to be developed in Cromwell and Balingana to attract the retiring officers to settle in those two colonies as voluntary officers so that they may continue to serve and answer a call to arms should the need arise. The land would definitely be a huge draw, especially when they were talking about 16 or 165 acres of land...
One could build a modest village with 16 acres of land. For a low-ranked officer, he could move there, run a farm, even invite his wife's family. He would not have to worry over food and other necessities.
Naturally, it would be a little hard to live off one kind of main crop alone. There were a couple crops that could be planted. For example, one could use an acre or two for a certain kind of plant and more acres for other berries or fruits. The crop would be enough to sustain up to 30 people. Some smaller livestock like ducks, chickens, pigs or sheep could also be reared for good profit.
Cromwell and Balingana were formerly settled in by Auerans who went there in the first place to escape poverty. Only after working in the colonies did they earn enough to get some land, though their efforts were only on a really small scale. The administration of the colonies allowed them to develop as they pleased without any concrete plan, so the colonies grew really slowly.
In some ways, Cromwell and Balingana's land belonged to the war theatre administration. Anyone looking to buy them would have to pay an astronomical price. But if nobody bought the land, it would forever remain desolate and undeveloped, not being worth anything at all. So while giving land away made it seem like the war theatre was losing money, the land itself wasn't worth much in the first place.
In the end, the generals agreed to the proposal and decided to give land away for free for qualified officers to settle down and continue serving the army even after their term ended.
Naturally, their treatment and benefits didn't change and they would get the additional benefit of land. A captain, for instance, would be given 16 acres of farmland or 165 acres of pastures for farming or rearing livestock. However, first lieutenants would only get 12 acres of farmland or 120 acres of pastures. If they wanted 16 or 165 acres, they would have to continue serving in the force for another five years or until they get promoted to captain.
The generals discussed this plan through the night and finally decided on the specific terms to offer land to the ten thousand plus retiring officers. To make it more appealing, they put out an even more insidious temptation.
Each retired officer would receive additional subsidies to bring their families over from the mainland. Each household could claim up to ten crowns. They would not get coin, however, but necessities. It solved the issue of sustaining the settler populace and gave the new factories and businesses of the settlers healthy demand for their products.
After busying themselves over it the whole night, they put out the notice and decided to finally relax. They had been far too worn out from worrying about all sorts of matters lately. Now that they finally wrapped it all up, they decided to take a short two-day break before getting back to their duties.
But little more than ten hours later, the generals met up once more with gloomy expressions. They didn't expect the notice they put up in the morning to have that huge of a reaction. Not only did the officers that were about to retire sign up en masse, there was even a huge commotion among the officers that weren't going to retire. They complained to the top that if they wouldn't also be getting land by settling down, they would hand in their resignations immediately.
It was something the generals hadn't anticipated. They were only targeting the 10 thousand officers who were about to be discharged and had forgotten about the other 10 thousand low-ranked officers in both corps. Naturally, the benefits enjoyed by the soon-to-be-discharged officers incurred the anger of those that had planned to stay. They demanded to be given the same benefits by showing up outside the generals' houses to protest. That was the reason Claude and the rest convened again.
Since the war had just ended and peacetime was going to last at the very least another half year, the generals decided to expand the family-visit breaks. Each month, a unit would be given permission to take half a year's leave to go back to the mainland to visit their family, get married, and take them back to the colonies to settle down. Those that were qualified to become settlers would be given similar treatment as the officers who asked for resignations. Only then was the chaos quelled.
But the moment those low-ranked officers left, the troops from the two corps also sent representatives to make their concerns to the generals heard. There were three factions representing the common soldiers, all attempting to address the settler issue.
The first faction of soldiers numbered the fewest. They were troops recruited from the mainland to fill up Ranger's rank before being distributed among the five enhanced folks. Now, they were the backbone veteran soldiers of the two corps. Their representatives demanded settler rights as well and hoped that each soldier would be given some land in the two colonies. However, they weren't greedy and would be happy with 3.3 acres of land.
The generals quickly decided that anyone that served for a full 15 years, even if they didn't get promoted to become baseline officers, would receive up to 5 acres of farmland or 50 acres of pastures. Since the colonies were in need of settlers, they were allowed to claim the land in advance so that they could notify their families in the mainland to come to the colonies and manage their lands first. However, their settler subsidies would be halved. In other words, they would only get fifty percent subsidies for the travel fees of their families to the colonies.
The second faction was made up of former members of local defence forces in the colonies that were later transferred to the five enhanced folks. They were the elites that passed the training courses and remained. While they had their own livelihoods and land in the colonies, they could definitely do with more. They also hoped to obtain settler status with the reason that they were members of the two corps in the colonies as well.
It was iron-clad reasoning, so the generals were going to give them similar treatment as the first faction of soldiers. As long as they could serve their terms in full, they would be given 5 acres of farmland or 50 acres of pastures. They would also be allowed to claim them in advance for their families to manage.
The last faction numbered the most; almost half of all the troops in the two corps. They also demanded settler status, but the generals didn't have a consensus on how to deal with them. Bolonik was frustrated by how greedy the soldiers were being. He believed that serving in the army was their duty.
This faction of soldiers were those who were discharged after the five-year war on Freia. When they moved over to the colonies, the war theatre had already given their families either 1.6 acres of farmland or a shop lot or workshop. Yet, now they wanted to be settlers in Cromwell or Balingana too.
After much discussion, the generals decided that they would be allowed to pick 5 acres of farmland or 50 acres of pastures like the former two factions, but they couldn't get them in advance and had to serve their terms in full first.
The generals breathed a sigh of relief when they finally dealt with the demands of the two corps of soldiers. Skri then proposed that since Balingana and Cromwell had a sparse population, now that they had their new settler policy for the families of soldiers serving in the two corps, why don't they take it one step further to let the families of the soldiers that perished in battle in the colonial wars to move there too with free land or property? That would greatly increase the loyalty of the current troops in the two corps.
It was indeed a rather good idea. The two colonies were vast and had fertile land and the soldiers sacrificed through the colonial conflict coupled with those that had to be discharged due to crippling injuries numbered 30 thousand. Giving their families some land would be able to ensure the loyalty of the other soldiers to the corps they served. It was a great deal. So, the generals agreed to let Skri move forward with his plan.
Though they had dealt with the troops, they didn't think their policy would be met with the opposition of the local officials. Back when Miselk used his scorched-earth tactics in Balingana and Cromwell and forcefully evicted near 100 thousand Aueran settlers from the two colonies, they were given promissory slips for reimbursement for what they lost.
Yet, the same settlers now wanted to get even more land in the two colonies they had left, essentially doubling their land or property, which was rather troubling for the generals. Claude, however, didn't really mind it. Since they had instituted the new settler policy, they had to follow through with it. Not a single settler could be left out. After all, the reimbursement they were promised didn't state which province in which they would be reimbursed. If they really wanted to claim the promissory slips, they could use them for land in Robisto. If they didn't want them, then they would get nothing.