In 1693, Isaac Newton unlocks 'the crystalline harmonic code of the universe', and derives mathematical equations that allow man to control the lower orders of angels. With this, the British start turning everything into gold and nearly destroy their economy. Louis XIV unites France, Spain, Austria, Prussia, and Sweden in a coalition against England to deal with this new alchemical power, but Newton summons Amnitziel, the tutelary angel of Britain, who crushes the invaders. Britain easily wins the war and conquers France.
Leibniz, in Germany, studies Newton's equations and produces the Philosopher's Stone in Berlin. He uses it to summon Zuriel, tutelary angel of Germany. The Spanish Inquisition obtains this knowledge and summons Barachiel, angel of Spain (though the English claim it's a lie and the Spanish made a pact with the fallen angel Samael). Using Barachiel, the Spanish invade Italy, but, before they succeed, Venice unleashes the angels Dobiel and Uzzael (angels of Media and Egypt, respectively) and beats back the Spanish.
The four angelic powers work out an agreement. They divide the world into four corners. Britain rules the North, i.e. all of North America; Spain, the West, i.e. South and Central America; Venice, the South, i.e. Africa and the Middle East; and Prussia, the East, i.e. Russia and soon afterwards China. A new world economy emerges based on Philosophers' Stones, which are refined from other forms of gemstone; and such gemstones cannot actually be moved by angels, due to their similarities to the summoning Stones. Pirates, privateers, and mercenaries stealing gemstones become common.
By 1752 it seems that the four powers are going to fall to war over the dwindling gemstone supplies, but Newton discovers a ritual that allows one to reach greater angels, who control the stars. He discovers that on other worlds are new and unique gemstones, with new powers. The four powers harness the angels they already have to create spacecraft, and set up colonies on other worlds to mine the Zodiac and obtain gemstones.