November 28th – The Festival of the Dictator Postponed

The counter-demonstrators who were out in the streets fighting the good fight on this day in 1888 undoubtedly saved many lives. It’s said that for every year that the Traitor King was in power five thousand people died, and so the two years without his rule that the events in and around Troughwater Street gave the City are certainly cause for a celebration, albeit one which is tinged with a certain melancholy at the knowledge of what happened next.

The Monarchist League was a fairly short-lived group, partly because of the events commemorated today, but also because their membership was later funnelled into more official forms: the police and secret police that upheld the brutal reign of the Traitor King. Under the leadership of Rennault Castor, who was in the pay of Traitor King, whilst he still remained a prince. Castor displayed many of the megalomaniacal tendencies that his master did, but coupled these with an obsequious manner that made him a particularly good lackey; he followed any orders given to him without question or hesitation. In 1888, the Prince ordered him to organise a march of his pseudo-military forces, right through the Warrens, where the majority of the opposition to the Prince’s authoritarian politics was based. It was intended to be a show of strength, a warning to all those that spoke out against the Prince’s forthcoming power grab (for which he was already positioning), and so it was publicised heavily for a week or so beforehand, to gain the highest number of marchers. The Warrens were, therefore, ready.

They sent the defence brigades in first, primarily those from the more monarchist districts like Ranaclois and Darksheve’s, alongside private mercenaries dressed up in their uniforms. According to the law, it was illegal to prevent a street protest which had been cleared with Parliament, as this one had (Parliament, despite their pretensions at democracy, were always a bunch of rich old men, and never represented the working Buentoillitant), and so the defence brigades went in mob-handed, beating the anti-monarchists who turned out in great numbers to halt the march. They managed to tear down two of the barricades in Toughwater street before they were pushed back, at which point the monarchist demonstrators stepped into the fracas. It’s estimated that a quarter of a million people filled the cramped alleys on the anti-monarchist side; there were communists and anarchists and religious minorities and trade unionists and non-affiliated members of the local community who wanted to take a stand against hate, all working together with common purpose.

Toughwater street is the largest of the streets that worm through that twisted amalgam of architecture, cutting a large arc through the eastern half. Above there are still the customary connecting walkways and clothes lines and tall buildings, so it appears something like a man-made canyon. On the walkways above that day, children threw rocks and pans of boiling water down onto the monarchist thugs below, and the adults below formed tight formations, wielding hammers and broom handles and the like to combat the batons and clubs of the monarchist-supporting brigades. Eventually, the anti-monarchists won the day, and the Monarchist League was defeated, their credibility broken, their outright violence outraging the middle classes, when it was revealed that ‘ordinary’ folk were subject to their predations as well, with the death of ‘Little Jimmy’.

After the celebratory march, with the flags and the chants, the whole street is filled with thronging masses today, and long tables are brought out from the surrounding houses, just as they were thrown out on that day to form the barricades. As with any sort of victory, a feast must be had, and here the traditional dish is an enormous potluck soup, made in an enormous broken drum that was seized from the monarchists, who were using it to try and intimidate the counter-demonstrators. After the aggressors were routed, there was general fanfare, and the people came together to solidify the solidarity between the groups that was forged in the fighting. It is only when everyone has been fed that the attention turns to the memorial, for the three people who died as a result of their injuries sustained in the fighting, and the three anarchists who were killed in the custody of those posing as the defence brigades (seventy counter-demonstrators were arrested, along with three monarchist demonstrators who began shooting at the crowds).

Flowers specially grown in a hothouse are laid in the street underneath the precarious walkway from which ‘Little Jimmy’ and his perhaps less significant but no less important friend Albert Quessinger fell on that day. The two young boys, one from the Warrens, one from an upper-middle class family, who were knocked from the walkway where they were throwing stones by a monarchist thug who threw back a stone. Jimmy Essen was hit square in the head, killing him instantly, and dooming young Albert, who attempted to stop him falling and was taken with him. The death of Jimmy discredited Castor and his League, preventing them from causing too much trouble, and causing Castor to have to flee to Litancha. Later, the Traitor King claimed to have ‘reformed’ the monarchist movement, and even brought back Castor to serve under him during his reign, when most were too scared to object. Victory is sweet, but it’s not always long lived.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Querulous Pigeon Festival
  • The Kiss of Bliss Festival
  • The Festival of Dunn Terror