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The Republic-Commonwealth War was a conflict fought between 2773 and 2775 by the Lyran Commonwealth and the Rim Worlds Republic. The War was in part responsible for the destruction of the Rim Worlds Republic as an interstellar nation, but was often recorded historically as having played a relatively minor part compared to that played by other agencies, particularly the invasion of the Rim Worlds Republic by the Star League Defense Force in the wake of the Amaris Coup.
Officially declared a "police action" by Archon Robert Steiner II, the War was waged after the SLDF had withdrawn from the Republic for the campaign to recapture the worlds of the Terran Hegemony from the Amaris Empire and was largely one-sided. The War officially stopped after a stern warning from Commanding General Aleksandr Kerensky of the SLDF that the Republic was still a Star League Territorial State, and ultimately saw the Lyran Commonwealth annex more than seventy systems over the course of the campaign.
2767 - 2772
The invasion of the Rim Worlds Republic by the SLDF in mid-2767 saw some fifty assorted regiments of Rim Worlds Army forces, planetary garrisons and paramilitary police forces faced with an onslaught of more than two and a half thousand regiments. The outcome of the SLDF invasion was never in doubt, but the SLDF was unable to completely pacify the Rim Worlds Republic despite the overwhelming military forces available.
Elements of military forces still loyal to Stefan Amaris remained active in the Republic throughout the SLDF occupation, hiding amongst the local population, acting as resistance movements or scattering into local space and becoming pirates. The withdrawal of the SLDF in 2772 led to many of these scattered elements attempting to reform, intent on reclaiming the Republic - even if they had to do so one world at a time.
At the same time, Robert's popularity within the Lyran Commonwealth had reached a nadir; he had refused to commit military forces in support of General Kerensky despite popular calls amongst the Lyran population for his nation to support the SLDF, and his reluctant approval for the SLDF to use Commonwealth space and facilities to launch the 2767 invasion of the Republic, intended to be a middle ground that would result in the fewest Lyran casualties, instead inflamed the population of the Commonwealth, causing a massive backlash against his rule.
Millions of Lyran citizens left the Commonwealth in droves, traveling to the SLDF bases established in the Periphery to enlist as a part of a volunteer army, also creating the very real specter of a popular uprising against Robert's rule within the Commonwealth. Calls from the populace for Robert's resignation were being echoed in the Estates General and even amongst the officer corps of the LCAF; the popular appeal of the SLDF volunteer army, dubbed the "Loyalists", saw noted figures such as Kailen Steiner, an illegitimate but respected son of the LCAF General and nobleman Paul Steiner, leaving the Commonwealth to enlist with the volunteer forces.
Faced with a growing political crisis at home and the very real prospect of a mutiny, both politically and militarily, by early 2773 Robert felt that he had no choice but to act. The result was dubbed Operation ALMARIC, and may well have served in Robert's mind as a means to appease the people of the Commonwealth enough to ensure his continued rule while providing an outlet for the frustrations of the civilian and military population.
Officially a "police action", Robert announced that the intent of Operation ALMARIC was to "help support noble Kerensky's campaign against the darkness". Robert's message to the Lyran people was that the invasion of the Republic was a necessary action to secure the Rim Worlds and remove the knife at Kerensky's back that the Republic represented.
The Rim Worlds Republic was already in a state of flux when Operation ALMARIC began; the last SLDF forces had left on the 9th of February 2772, and the Republic had remained largely peaceful internally until March. That ended when open conflict between factions of the Rim Republican Army on Götterdämmerung began. The RRA had become the effective government of the Rim Worlds Republic during the SLDF occupation of the Republic, although relations between the SLDF and the RRA varied both from world to world and across individual worlds, in part due to the brutality displayed by many RRA cells and in part due to the highly decentralized nature of the RRA and its leadership.
During the SLDF occupation the RRA had struck out at members of the Amaris administration at local and national levels, often enacting brutal punishments and executions against those it considered traitors, but a reluctant Kerensky had recognized the RRA as the legitimate government of the Rim Worlds Republic in 2770, headed by Lucien Dormax. Amaris' abandonment of the Republic and the other nations of the Periphery led many in both the RRA and RWA to join Kerensky's volunteer forces, departing the Republic along with the SLDF.
With Amaris sympathizers and loyalists re-emerging from hiding and the RRA dividing amongst itself whilst also trying to fight the resurgent loyalists, the RWR was effectively in the midst of a three-way internal civil war by mid-2772.
2773 - 2775
|“||Some may wonder, why the Rim Worlds, and why now. I say to you, the Lyran people, that we cannot permit the Star League to be stabbed in the back by Periphery traitors while the Protector is reclaiming the Star League's heart. Therefore, we will safeguard the Rim Worlds, lest its people once again dare to raise arms against the Star League.||”|
|— Archon Robert Steiner II, announcing the commencement of hostilities against the Rim Worlds Republic, April 2773|
LCAF forces on the Republic border had been placed on high alert during the reign of Archon Michael Steiner II; under the auspices of Operation ALMARIC Robert deployed roughly a hundred regiments of conventional and BattleMech forces across the Lyran border. The targets of his campaign were the systems from all four Provinces of the Republic that lay closest to the Commonwealth.
The Republic, shattered after the SLDF invasion, could offer little resistance, and Lyran regiments annexed world after world in a campaign that consisted largely of easy victories. Far from recognizing the invasion as a police action, critics of the Archon - and the majority of the historical texts discussing the War - viewed the invasion as an opportunistic effort by Robert to acquire industrialized systems to bolster his own realm, systems that had already been subdued by the SLDF and which could offer little resistance.
Within the Republic, Lucien Dormax had been attempting to negotiate a peace between the various factions, attempting to unify those who, regardless of their political affiliations, remained patriots and acknowledged the need for a pan-Republican alliance to ensure the survival of the Republic. A conference had been organized for the 5th of May 2773 to discuss terms, with hopes that peace could be achieved by the middle of the year. Preparations were underway for the conference when frantic, confused messages began pouring into Government House on Apollo, the seat of the Republic government. The messages reported that numerous systems along the border of the Republic were under attack from well-trained opponents who were consistently seizing stations and port facilities before steamrolling over the meager defensive units available to the various worlds.
The government of the Republic had no functioning intelligence apparatus at this point, and the Lyran invasion achieved complete and total surprise in its opening stages; it wasn't until a report arrived from Kikuyu that the Republican government was able to determine that the invaders were from the Lyran Commonwealth. While Robert Steiner II insisted that his invasion was in support of General Kerensky and necessary to prevent forces loyal to Amaris turning the Republic into a recruiting and training ground to assist the Amaris Empire, the Lyran forces that annexed each system swiftly began incorporating them into the Alarion and Coventry Provinces and the Trellshire region of the Lyran Commonwealth. Public declarations to the contrary, the Archon had no intention of returning the systems to the Republic.
For many of the LCAF units that were conducting the invasion, the Republic-Commonwealth War was their first military action, many having been formed or re-established after the revocation of the Star League Council Edict of 2650 a few decades before. While some worlds - most notably Bucklands and Somerset - offered stiff resistance, in most cases the LCAF was able to roll over the RRA and Amaris forces with relative ease, with the LCAF often finding itself fighting both factions on the same world; in some cases, the disparate Republican groups allied together against the common enemy, but in just as many cases the LCAF was able to destroy the opposing factions in detail.
Whilst Robert's campaign stripped systems away from the Republic, the popular opinion of the campaign was that the Lyran actions were akin to scavengers picking over the body of a dead beast rotting in a desert wilderness - the blame for the fall of the Republic was in most cases placed at the feet of General Kerensky, and his invasion of the Republic in the previous decade. Although Kerensky's warning to the Archon saw the invasion slow, it picked up pace again in late 2773, continuing at a somewhat slower speed until 2776.
The last offensive of Operation ALMARIC was focused on capturing the capital of the Rim Worlds Republic, Apollo, and those systems surrounding it. This final action saw the LCAF engaged in heavy fighting, but the isolation and capture of Apollo left the remaining Republic systems bereft of central leadership, effectively cutting off the outwards systems of the Republic from the remains of their leadership. Apollo fell in September 2775 after a brutal three-month planetary assault, and Lucien Dormax was captured by Lyran special forces; having undergone rendition into the Commonwealth for interrogation, Dormax vanished - his fate remaining unknown even in the thirty-second century.
Although the First Succession War went poorly for the Lyran Commonwealth, by 2822 the Commonwealth still retained control of scores of former Rim Worlds Republic systems. It is unclear how many of those systems were originally captured during the Republic-Commonwealth War, but the following systems were still in Lyran space at the end of the First Succession War:
In addition to the annexed systems, a number of systems that lay astrogeographically adjacent to or inside the new border of the Lyran Commonwealth vanished from maps during the First Succession War; these systems - Apinzel, Illium, Kola, Nyasa, Torgvei and Ylemelke - may have also been annexed by the Commonwealth or wiped out during the invasion, although it is also possible that the worlds were depopulated, abandoned or rendered too insignificant to merit further recording during the First Succession War.
Operation ALMARIC stopped short of the complete conquest of the Rim Worlds Republic, something that appears to have been an entirely possible outcome; records of the era provide no insight into why the LCAF offensive stopped, but plausible reasons for the end to combat operations include that the Lyran Bureaucracy may have been incapable of keeping up with the massive influx of newly-conquered worlds, or that the Lyran economy may equally have been unable to cope with the rapid expansion of the Commonwealth... or it may simply have been that the Archon's appetite for conquest had been sated.
The effects of the abandonment of the Republic by both Stefan Amaris and Aleksandr Kerensky, combined with the Republic-Commonwealth War, were absolutely devastating for the Republic. Crowds gathered on the worlds that the Lyrans had conquered, protesting both the Commonwealth occupation and the abandonment of the worlds by Amaris and Kerensky; bereft of centralized leadership, the remaining Republic worlds were left to fend for themselves, isolated and independent. Many worlds perished, while a number of those that survived became the bastions of petty warlords and the center of small bandit kingdoms, bringing the coreward borders of the Commonwealth an infamous reputation for piracy and petty tyrants.
A small number of Amaris loyalists rose up as warlords, determined to hold the planets they seized until the return of either Stefan Amaris or one of his descendants, perhaps the most famous example being Baron Nico Von Strang, who established the one-world bandit kingdom known as Von Strang's World. Amaris loyalists also joined existing havens, such as the holdings in the Star's End system already inhabited by the descendants of Republican refugees from the Reunification War, further fueling the efforts of the Belt Pirates of Star's End against both the Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine.
Some worlds attempted to maintain the nationalist cause - the tiny collective known as the Oberon Confederation began with just a such a movement, based on the worlds of Oberon VI, Crellacor and Sigurd, surviving as a collective for almost twenty years before breaking down in the face of interstellar isolation, repeated bandit raids and the loss of technology that the inhabitants had no means to replace.
- Handbook: House Steiner indicates that the final offensive in the Republic-Commonwealth War, responsible for capturing Apollo, occurred after the death of Stefan Amaris. This is contradicted by the other sources, as Stefan Amaris wasn't executed until late 2779, while the fall of Apollo is dated to September 2775. As the other sources post-date Handbook: House Steiner, they have been taken to be the correct sources.
- Handbook: House Steiner, p. 34, "The Taking of the Rim Worlds Republic"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1, p. 105, "Camp Amber"
- Handbook: House Steiner, p. 32, "The Falling Down"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1, p. 111, "Operation ALMARIC"
- Handbook: Major Periphery States, p. 37, "The Republic-Commonwealth War"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1, p. 110, "The Death of the Republic"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1, p. 109-110, "Any Port In A Storm"
- Handbook: Major Periphery States, p. 36-37, "One Brief, Shining Moment"
- Era Report: 2750, p. 37, "Inner Sphere - 2750"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1, p. 104, "Rim Worlds Republic "
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, p. 122, "Inner Sphere - 2822"
- Handbook: House Steiner
- Handbook: Major Periphery States
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2
- Start Date - 2773
- End Date - 2775