In Orenian history, the "Northern question" is the term used on the issue of whether the Highlander people within Oren (More specifically, the Hansetians and Raevir though not excluding other minorities) should have their own state independent of or under the Orenian sphere of influence. It is most commonly referred to the time within the Fifth Empire after the accession of Emperor John I following the Treaty of Metz and the Horen Restoration, who attempted to pass the failed Sigismund Compromise between the lordships of Courland, Alamar, and Carnatia. Later, Emperor John III made the controversial move of granting the titles of King of Ruska and King of Hanseti to the Carrion-scion Petyr Sigmarovic, effectively granting the "Highlanders" an autonomous realm with the Empire, though the concept of such is still debated.
The term is also used, while quite rarely, to express the conflict between the two significant Highlander peoples, the Raevir and the Hansetians, and whether the two peoples should share a single realm or both rule their separate states.
The first concept of a Highlander realm with the larger realm of Oren began when Exalted Godfrey allowed Mark I of Hanseti (Known during his life as Mirtok de Nurem) to retain the royal title as King of Hanseti as a vassal of the Imperial State. Later, when Exalted Sigismund accended to the Imperial Throne he granted the lordling Edward Winter the style as King of Herendul (Hanseti) to rule effectively as a "King of the Northmen", albeit with largely diminished lands and without the noticeable presence of the Raevir minority (which Sigismund ruled himself as the King of Ruska).
The Kingdom of Ruska remained a title of the Carrion dynasts till Alexander I, which saw his lands divided among the generals Varon Kovachev, Roy Rikovic, and other petty nobles. Hanseti, on the other hand, eventually fell into the hands of the Rovin family, which ruled effectively as kings till the end of the brutal Schism War. Both titles then became mere formalities to the follow generations of Orenian Kings (King Andrew, King Olivier, and King Guy) and to the Johannian dynasts of the later reformed Fifth Empire (Emperor John I, Emperor John II, and Emperor John III).
Sigismund Day Compromise
The first attempt, albeit failed, to solve the budding aggression between the separate northern states (namely, the lords Duke Otto II of Carnatia, Viscount Bryce of Alamar, and Duke Percival I of Courland) began with the Imperial-backed Sigismund Day Compromise, or known more rarely as the Carnatian Articles. Detailed within was the plan to recreate the separate courts, systems, and processes of the now-titular Kingdom of Hanseti (Though not Ruska) with the Emperor as the sole monarch, with a single regent, or palatine, ruling in the name of the Emperor as the King of Hanseti.
The attempt was originally supported by the lords Duke Otto and Viscount Bryce, whom both took significant hand in forging the original documents while both separately believing they would be the chief head selected by the Emperor. Duke Percival was not included in the discussion. When news of such constitution reached the Duke of Courland, the lord vehemently denied agreeing to such. Later, when Viscount Bryce discovered the Emperor favored Duke Otto II as the Lord Palatine, he too abandoned the project, leaving the north divided three-ways. The relationship between the Carnatian lords, most notably Count Joseph of Baranya, and the Viscount Bryce soured.