The Manticoran-Havenite War (sometimes referred to the First Manticoran-Havenite War) raged between 1905 PD and 1915 PD. It followed years of building tension and hostility between the two powers, dating back to 1857 PD and the foresight of Manticoran monarch King Roger III. King Roger’s assassination by Havenite agents (a fact kept from the public) had been intended to weaken Manticoran resolve, but it hardened his daughter (Queen Elizabeth III) against Haven.
The People’s Republic of Haven desperately needed to boost their flagging economy and also needed to distract a troubled domestic populace. They devised many plans to weaken the Star Kingdom of Manticore but also knew that the Kingdom had superior military technology, and were thus prepared to take casualties in any assault on the Kingdom. In the prelude to war a direct attack on the Manticore system wasn’t ruled out, but it was an unfavourable move due to the number of casualties the Haven Navy would suffer. Instead plans were drawn up to lure Royal Navy units out of position, and sporadic attacks on RMN vessels by ‘unknown’ assailants were designed to be provocative, whilst giving Haven the opportunity to make the Star Kingdom look like the aggressors.
Unfortunately for Haven, they underestimated the capabilities of the RMN. Naval Intelligence slipped information into Haven’s communications that lured PRN forces into a trap at Grayson, and ingenious use of missile pods allowed a detachment of RMN forces at their forward Hancock base to trap a large Havenite fleet. In the aftermath of the early defeats RMN forces attacked Seaford Nine (a major advanced base of operations), taking the system.
Political considerations affected both sides in the immediate aftermath of the early battles. For Manticore the problem concerned the Battle of Hancock and the court-martial of Captain Pavel Young. Lord Young (to give him his civilian title) commanded the heavy cruiser HMS Warlock, which did not return to formation when ordered, leaving gaps in the RMN formation for Havenite attackers to exploit. Because Young’s father carried great influence in conservative circles the very idea of a court-martial (which, given the charges, would have carried the death penalty) was abhorrent to some, and deepened a rift between different political factions in the Navy.
The resolution of this matter allowed the Star Kingdom to formally declare war on the People’s Republic of Haven, who underwent a coup in the wake of the disastrous early phase of the war. A People’s Quorum filled with anti-Legislaturalist ranks carried out a plot to overthrow the existing government and then govern under the guise of the emergency Committee of Public Safety. Rob Pierre, Oscar Saint-Just and Cordeila Ransom oversaw the assassinations of President Harris and his family and seized control of the government. They mobilised the disaffected Dolists in a previously unseen manner and used the threat of the elitist Star Kingdom and their aristocracy to keep attention away from their brutal methods. One of the initial impacts of their revolution was a purging of naval officers who were seen as close to the previous regime, and this had a hugely negative affect on experience and morale within the PRN.
This was felt in the war. Haven had little choice but to concede chunks of territory to the Star Kingdom, though the situation with Young had deprived Manticore of a chance to strike a more powerful blow. Over time Manticore had to deal with having a smaller navy and the on-going threat of Havenite occupation of Trevor’s Star (which effectively pinned Manticore fleets to the home system), whilst Haven had to deal with inferior technology and a navy damaged by the loss of experienced officers.
Haven would attempt counter-attacks to address the war’s early imbalance. A taskforce invaded the Grayson system and made use of the previously obsolete battleship, but this invasion was repelled by a contingent of Grayson super-dreadnoughts and a large collection of support ships. Attempts to raid Manticore merchant traffic in the Silesian Confederacy failed. On both occasions the tactical acumen of Honor Harrington would prove a serious thorn in Haven’s side.
The tide of battle appeared to turn in 1911 PD when Admiral White Haven of the RMN successfully took Trevor’s Star, freeing up personnel from their duties manning fortifications guarding the wormhole terminus. However the battle had two consequences. The inevitability of the Star Kingdom taking Trevor’s Star meant Haven recalled promising commander Admiral Esther McQueen to Haven itself, as the Committee felt she was a good officer and did not want to punish her for losing the system. The battle also inflicted serious casualties on the RMN, forcing a delay in offensive operations whilst those losses were replaced. On Haven McQueen acted to quell the Leveler Uprising, saving the Committee and thus being granted a place at the seat of the Havenite government, though she was distrusted by Pierre, Saint-Just and Ransom, who all feared her ambition. Her actions in saving the Committee also inflicted many civilian deaths, which could been seen as a mark of desiring power ahead of the common good, though the Committee overlooked this.
With McQueen directing Havenite military action the People’s Republic managed to go on large-scale offensive action for what was virtually the first time since the war began. Operation Icarus devastated Manticoran operations in Basilisk and in the allied worlds of Zanzibar and Alizon. Haven also reclaimed several worlds lost to previous Manticoran operations. Their assaults earned McQueen a great deal of praise but concerns about her loyalty and ambition led to Saint-Just laying groundwork to have her executed, just in case she rebelled. Ironically these moves provoked a coup attempt, and in the ensuing chaos McQueen, Pierre and most of the Committee were killed when Saint-Just detonated a nuclear weapon under the Octagon building (also killing 1.3 million Havenite citizens in the process).
The war would soon shift dramatically and decisively in Manticore’s favour. Firstly the unexpected return of half a million prisoners of war (including Honor Harrington, who had been captured, and apparently executed for ‘war crimes’) provided a huge boost to Manticore in the aftermath of Operation Icarus. Secondly, plans for new weapons and technologies first suggested by Harrington had come to fruition. White Haven’s Eighth Fleet, now formed of a new revolutionary class of superdreadnoughts and carrying new, more sophisticated missiles and defensive technology, carried out Operation Buttercup, ripping through Havenite forces in an offensive designed to push all the way to Haven itself. Multi-drive missiles carried a much larger range than anything anyone had seen in war before, and the missile pods deployed to enhance a dreadnought’s payload were now folded into the ships themselves, granting considerably larger salvos than before. Manticore had also developed the previously irrelevant Light Attack Craft, turning them into forces capable of harassing and even destroying much larger vessels. In effect, both Manticore’s long-range and short-range warfare had advanced hugely, leaving Haven incapable of defeating Eighth Fleet.
Ultimately plans to completely defeat Haven’s navy fell short. Saint-Just hatched plans to have both Queen Elizabeth III and Manticoran Prime Minister the Duke of Cromarty killed, and succeeded in killing the Duke. This facilitated a change of government on Manticore, and Baron High Ridge (of the Conservative Association) became Prime Minister. his Coalition government accepted a cease-fire request from Saint-Just, over the objections of the Queen and Navy. In a further twist, Saint-Just was killed in another coup, this time led by Admiral Thomas Theisman. Saint-Just had desired to reorganise the PRN and bring it under tighter control; Theisman thwarted his plans and moved to restore the pre-DuQuesne constitution.
From here, both sides aimed to negotiate a lasting peace.