The Wrongful Takings (from Andamonian Zaanha Culotla) were a series of incidents during the War of the Velaran Succession wherein Trellinese warships seized merchant shipping flying under neutral flags, most particularly that of Andamonia. The incidents arose early in the war, with neutral ships seized on several occasions between July 1769 and March 1770. Trellin accused these merchants of aiding an insurrection: the Sidereal Crown regarded the Velaran kingdom as its dominion, albeit in revolt; while this was technically true, its other neighbours continued to treat Velar as a sovereign state, and their ships continued to trade in Velaran ports.
The seizures roused public ire in Andamonia, and Empress Xichiel II warned Elcmar IV of Trellin that she would not allow her subjects to be harassed. Andamonia adopted a policy of armed neutrality; her merchant ships began carrying modest armaments and sailing in convoy, frequently escorted by one or two warships. Other states around the Sea of Velar quickly followed suit when it became clear that Trellin would not end its persecution of their shipping. The fiasco became a cause célèbre in Andamonia and soured relations between the two states for decades afterward.
At the outbreak of the war, the Velaran dominions around the Sea of Velar constituted, in effect, a thalassocracy, with extensive land holdings encompassing most of the archipelago and large areas of Pelna and Retikh. The maintenance of this small empire was dependent on its merchant fleets, and indeed Velar's economic and political weight was built chiefly on their vast trading network. The outbreak of war over the Velaran throne, in January 1769, was therefore a major threat not only to the Velaran economy but also to the economies of the states of the eastern Sea of Velar, such as the Andamonian Empire, and principalities of Namija and Txekrikar.
Spectators around the Sea of Velar and further afield believed that there were effectively two directions the war could take. Either Velar, with its population unsure whether to support Prince Miró's rebellion, would quickly lose the war against a determined Trellinese onslaught; or Trellin would choose to avoid further bloodshed and acquiesce to the demands of the Velaran nobles. In either case trade would be normalised within months, and shipping to and from the Isles themselves would be largely untroubled by the conflict.
The war, however, did not end so swiftly. Although the Velaran navy had quickly gained supremacy, facilitating a string of minor victories in the south and preventing total defeat, Trellin refused to concede the war and whittled away at the rebel territories in Pelna and Retikh as if engaged in a war of conquest. Towns in both territories wavered between supporting either side, and the war seemed likely to drag on for some time. However, as Trellin's fleet had been effectively driven from the Sea of Velar early in the war, the conflict had yet to impact meaningfully on Velaran commerce. Foreign-flagged ships were often stopped and searched by Trellinese patrols at the Straits of Jajich, but this was a long-standing policy.
The first incident in this episode of the war came in July 1769, when a Namijan merchantman was detained near Meharz by a Trellinese sloop-of-war as it sailed up the Ja'ekhan coast towards ports in Velaran Retikh. The ship's cargo of saltpetre was impounded, as the sloop's captain surmised that it was intended for the production of gunpowder. The ship was released after a week in detention, and the loss was compensated soon after. No complaint was made to the Sidereal Crown or its ambassador in Cavari.
Further, and more controversial, incidents were soon to follow. As Trellin regathered its fleets at Tanzigar, patrols in the Straits of Jajich increased. Searches became almost unavoidable. Three Nikolian merchantmen were detained in Tanzigar between 28 July and 5 August. Mihajlo of Nikolia protested to the Sidereal Crown, and Elcmar IV — whose daughter Pasianë had recently married a Nikolian prince — was apologetic, but he refused to stop the searches.
The most notorious incident was the taking of the Andamonian merchantman Ulihiara on 13 August. The ship crossed paths with a Trellinese warship, the SCS Nevet Prezaika, in the western Sea of Velar and was ordered to stand by to be boarded and searched. Ulihiara's captain refused, and a brief pursuit ensued. The Nevet Prezaika apprehended Ulihiara beside a small island and the ship was searched at length. Eventually, much of its cargo of teak wood was hauled ashore and burned and the captain was ordered to pay a fine for haulage of contraband. The ship was then towed to a port and the crew interned until it could be repatriated — a long wait, given that Trellinese ships were mostly kept in port by Velaran naval hegemony.
When news of the Ulihiara incident reached Cevrazu and Zadé Axochizin, the Andamonian public was incensed. There were loud calls for the empire to formally recognise Prince Miró as Velar's king, and a vocal minority called for war with Trellin itself. Empress Xichiel II issued a strongly-worded letter rebuking Elcmar and warning that she would not permit her subjects and shipping to be molested.
Andamonia hereupon adopted a policy of armed neutrality: its ships, even civilian, were given orders to resist searches; they were given cannons to carry for their protection; and they were advised to sail in convoy or wait to secure a naval escort from the imperial navy.
- Trellin continues to search ships of all flags
- Namija adopts AN, then Txek, then whoever else
- E Velaran states agree to come to each other's aid
- Blockade-running at Parthenope