Monday, November 21, 2011

Druth History Month, Part 3

(Previously in Druth History: Druthal frees itself from the rule of the Kieran Empire, and starts the slowly, painful process of self-rule.  Weak central government leads to squabbling and infighting amongst the Druth counties, and the southern countries of Yinro and Scaloi engage in all-out war.)

Now: The Third through Seventh Centuries.

Druthal, by counties, in the Fifth Century

Third Century
In 204, the King, Falsham II, develops a degenerative sickness.  Many of the counts feel that his son, a cruel and pompous fool, is ill suited for the throne, and while Falsham is in the throws of fever, they organize a quick hearing and declare his son incompetent.  Falsham dies shortly thereafter, and his nephew Thalin becomes king.

Thalin (204-227) ends the isolationist era for Druthal.   Thalin was in league with a number of lords (which was why he was elevated to the throne), and these lords were interested in improving opportunities for trade and business.  Under his leadership, Druthal starts building merchant ships, and sending out diplomats.  These diplomats went out to every Kieran duke, Waish clan chief, Kellirac lord and Acserian prince, as well as the kings of Monim and Yinro and the queen of Scaloi, with purpose of opening up trade routes for Druthalian merchants.  By the end of his reign, there were agreements throughout the former entirety of the Kieran Empire, and the treasury of Druthal was overflowing with trade revenue.

When his son was crowned King Halitar (227-243), he took control of a Druthal that was now thriving.  Halitar’s greatest success came through fortuity rather than skill, as it was during his reign that a fleet of merchant ships from the Fuergan family of Giowen made harbor in Lacanja in 237.  Up until that point, contact with any of the Fuergan families had been extraordinarily rare, reliant upon travel across Kieran.  Knowledge countries and cultures in the east had been nothing but fleeting rumors.  Through the Giowens, Druthal now had a new source of trade and solid information about the eastern world.

Halitar’s reign is not without tragedy. In 238 his son, Prince Fultar, falls in love with Princess Demea of Pelkin in Acseria.  While courting her, however, Lord Kuvar of Kellirac marched a unit over the mountains into Acseria, storming Galena, kidnapping the princess, and taking her to The Keep.  The Prince of Druthal appealed to King Halitar for troops to take her back with, but the King refuses to commit any troops to a protracted conflict in Kellirac.  Prince Fultar gathers a few close friends, and attempts to rescue Demea himself.  However, in the attempt, all but Fultar are killed.  Fultar is captured by the Kelliracs, and thrown into the dungeons of the keep.  King Halitar begins an assault on Kellirac to rescue his son.  Upon hearing this, Fultar and Demea (who refused to marry Kuvar) are executed. The Druthalian army, badly beaten by the weather and the forces of Kellirac, return home, ashamed.  The agreements between Druthal and Kellirac are destroyed, and massive military installations are constructed along the Druthalian/Kellirac border, so Kellirac is effectively sealed off from the outside world.  This event, years later, served as the plot for Demea, a famous Druthalian opera. It also left Druthal without a crown prince.

As Halitar neared death in 243, there was much debate over who should be king.  The various lords of Druthal argued hotly over it, until the arrival of the preceptors of the Warlords and Vanguard.  These groups had remained reclusive for two centuries now, but had stayed in strong contact with each other, and now intended to take a role in the current politics in order to maintain the rough peace that Thalin’s trade treaties had created.  They declared that the best choice for king was Gelmin, Halitar’s grandson by his eldest daughter.  Gelmin was only ten, so the Preceptors took it upon themselves to act as his regents.  Some of Druth lords were enraged at the idea that men of “common birth” would serve as regents and advisors, until Callum Tor, the Warlord Preceptor, pointed out that the preceptors of the orders served as advisors to King Maradaine, and would it not suit Gelmin to have the same advantages, and be as great a king?

Gelmin was officially crowned at the age of fifteen.  The Kierans reacted warmly to him taking the title King Gelmin (248-278), as this name was a Kieran one.  Gelmin would give the Kierans no preferential treatment, though.  The preceptors of the four orders became his close friends and advisors, and through them he had access to the orders, and therefore had better information as to what was truly going on in the kingdom.  Several barons had their private injustices brought to light during Gelmin’s rule.

Gelmin also shocked the royal court by forming a military alliance with Yinro, solidified by marrying Princess Isabeau, daughter to the Yinrite king.  This alliance enraged both the Monics and Scallics, who both respond by regrouping their forces and engaging in a unified assault upon Druthal and Yinro, with Yinro taking the main focus of this.  Gelmin does honor the alliance and sends relief troops, including some members of all four orders.

King Fendrick (278-310) takes the throne at the age of fifteen when Gelmin dies suddenly.  Some suspect use of poison or magic in his death, but no investigation is made.  He continues with fighting the war against Monim and Scaloi with Yinro.  In 284, the two Yinrite Princes (Donclaude and Pondaux), who were serving as generals in the war, are killed.  Old King Orjean of Yinro was devastated by the news of this, and died two years afterwards.  The chiefs of protocol in Yinro and Druthal both studied the situation, and all came to the same conclusion that the man with strongest claim to the Yinrite throne was, in fact, Fendrick.  In 287 he was crowned with that title.

Burdened with two crowns, Fendrick decided that he would end the situation with Monim and Scaloi once and for all.  Monim, in particular, was targeted, due to its long-standing use of work camps and slave labor, practices that Scaloi had instituted as well.  Both nations used Druths and Yinrites as slaves.  For the sake of both his nations, Fendrick committed the full might of his forces upon their enemies.

The Druth nobles were not particularly interested in aiding Yinro or righting moral wrongs, but the thought of getting control over Monim—land rich in gold and silver and other metals—was motivation enough to lend their full support to the war.

Against this commitment, neither Monim nor Scaloi could hold their ground.  The Druth force swept like wildfire southward, led by Fendrick.  While he, the heads of the Orders and the most loyal of the Druth nobility are in the south, treachery brewed in Maradaine. In 295, the Royal Lord Chamberlain Maxwell, once he is sure the King is safely away, dismisses several Counts and lords, and replaces them with loyal followers.  Then, he names himself commander of the Maradaine militia (the defense force left behind in case of surprise attack on the city).  Any militia commanders who disobey he has removed from duty and executed.  Lord Chamberlain Maxwell was a powerful enough and trusted enough advisor to do this all with little trouble.  He had the Prince sent to a Kieran academy, and the Queen sent to a nunnery.  In just under few months, he effectively seized the throne with next to no bloodshed.  Chamberlain Maxwell declares himself King of Druthal, as the King of Yinro (the emphasis he makes in his speeches) has been too busy for Druthal, and has been ignoring his own people.  Surprisingly, the Druth people largely agree, and support this "new King".

Leaving an occupying force in the newly conquered south, Fendrick and his lords make a frantic march north.  Maxwell manages to meet their forces in Jarechna.  Fendrick pulls his forces back to the city of Lacanja, while the Preceptors of the Orders keep Maxwell’s forces busy.  In Lacanja, soldiers are loaded onto ships that sail north and then down the Maradaine.  Fendrick and his allies are able to pin Maxwell within Sauriya.

King Maxwell (295-296), unable to fight a war on two fronts, pulls back to the city of Kyst, his birthplace, and sight of his proposed new capital, for a valiant, but insane, last stand.  His forces, outnumbered by at least seven to one, dig themselves into defensible positions, and manage to hold the forces of the Fendrick for nearly a week, before surrendering.  King Maxwell was captured, hiding in a wine cellar, crouched in a pool of his own urine.  During his trial for treason, his obvious mental instability kept showing up, as he defied the authority of the royal courts up until the end.  At his execution, his final words were "You cannot kill me!  I'll have you all arrested!"

King Fendrick begins a massive purge of his corrupted government.  In the end, he has people on every level of the government, from the Dukes right down to the petty officials, removed from power, and replaced.  Beyond that, he now has massive amounts of new, conquered territory that needs to be controlled.

Fourth Century
In 302 Fendrick announced his new plan—he literally redrew the map.  He declared that what was Druthal, Yinro, Monim and Scaloi would now be one nation—Druthal.  The entire country was broken up into new districts with new names, and those who had been loyal to Fendrick and proven themselves with valor received titles corresponding to the new districts.  The southern areas in particular had been broken up into small groups to end any previous sense of national identity.

Fendrick shocked the rest of Druthal one more time by stepping down and ceding the crown to his son before he died.  King Meltin (307-329) ruled unobtrusively, focusing on repairing trading relations with Acseria, Kellirac, Waisholm and Kieran.  For the first time in Druth history, the Counts of Druthal had the means and motivation to encourage and sponsor artists and thinkers, so a number of great works came about during this time.

The reigns of Santral (329-348) and Bintral (348-372) proceeded in much the same way, and Druthal prospered.  Even the once shattered and demoralized southern territories began to recover.  Bintral wanted to improve education in Druthal, but his advisors had no idea how to go about it.  Requests for assistance in this matter were sent to Kieran and Acseria, but only the Acserians responded, sending traveling missionaries to go to Druthal, from town to town, teaching basic skills such as reading and writing.  They did this with their holy texts, however, so this resulted in several Druthalians, especially the rural ones, being exposed to the Acserian faith, and many began to take up its beliefs.  Faith in the Acserian religion grew particularly strong in southern Druthal.

This reached the point where King Fendrick II (372-398) declared his own faith in the Acserian religion, and ordered that churches be built throughout Druthal, and encourage his citizens to attend, and for some to become ordained as priests of the faith.  His advisors grew worried that Fendrick’s decision making was completely centered in his faith, and he would often not take action without first consulting with members of the Kannan Assembly, if not the Rei himself.  They took steps to circumvent the king from as many major decisions as possible, making sure that people in key positions in the royal court did not share his faith.  When Fendrick announced his intention of a vow of chastity and celibacy, his advisors did nothing to discourage this, so when Fendrick II died, the government of Druthal was primed to place a man on the throne that had been long groomed for this position.

King Haldrin (398-413) had only a tenuous claim on the throne—he was the great-grandson of Santral, and any expert in protocol would be able to point out three or four men with stronger claim than he had.  When Haldrin was crowned, though, none of these men stepped forward to challenge it, having been bought or bullied by Haldrin’s supporters.  Haldrin was quickly able to form strong ties with the neighboring areas, partly because he claimed affinity with each one; his ancestry could trace a Waish Clan-Chief, an Acserian Prince, a Kieran Duke and a Kellirac Lord.

Fifth Century

Haldrin and his aides decided that Druthal needed a stronger presence in international politics—even to the point of arguing that Druthal had the right to rule over what had once been the Kieran Empire.  Haldrin, with his mixed heritage, could bring legitimacy to claims he might make within the other countries.  Citing the trade agreement that Halitar had made centuries before, he sent notice to the other nations that the five nations were now “The Trade Nations” and he was now the “King of Trade”, the Overlord of them all, and the Druth army had the might to enforce this.

In 403, Haldrin was proven quite wrong, as the Kieran Legions and Waish clans swept into Druthal with a deadly fury.  The Druth army was overwhelmed, and Haldrin was forced to concede.  The Acserians kept the armies from completely overrunning Druthal, and it is Rei Trofilian IV who suggested that some of Haldrin’s ideas were not without merit.  At this point, a treaty is drawn up between Druthal, Waisholm, Kieran, Acseria and Kellirac, which does not necessarily bind them to peace or alliance, but opens up the opportunity for trading between all five nations, and thus is called the (First) Treaty of the Trade Nations.

Haldrin’s supporters made themselves scarce as the other counts brought him to task.  Haldrin was sanctioned by the Counts, and as a result the power of the throne was greatly diminished, and there now existed the Council of Counts.  This noble council held great amounts of power in Druthal for some time to come.  Haldrin spent most of the rest of his reign in seclusion and study.

For the next decades Druthal both thrived and regressed.  Druthal thrived because the Treaty of the Trade Nations allowed for increased trade and reduced tariffs at the borders.  The Counts all had their hands it various merchant enterprises and everyone thrived.  Druth ships even traveled around Acseria to the eastern nations such as Mahabassa, Fuerga, Tsoulja, Mocassana, and the Tyzanian Empire.  Druth wool and leather in particular were popular goods in the east.  It regressed, however, because while kings like Falsham III (413-437) and Haldrin II (437-468) sat on the throne, they wielded very little power.  Under the Council of Counties, Feudal traditions returned. The king no longer held control over Druthal’s forces.  The Counts, and even the lesser lords, had their own soldiers.  In addition, members of the Orders took up the tradition of serving a specific lord, often as a close advisor and captain of their forces.

As would be expected, the Counts began to argue with each other, and since they had fighting men at their disposal, would do battle upon each other.  The Council laid a series of rules for these battles (on top of the Kieran Rules of War which the Trade Treaty imposed upon them) to keep them honorable.  Part of this was that the attacking Count, to have a fair and legal attack, must write up a series of grievances against the Count he was attacking, and the King must acknowledge the grievances.  As far as the Council was concerned, if the King had received them, they were acknowledged.  During these years Druthal suffered several score of these private wars, some of which were no more than an excuse for the lords to practice their training of tactics.

During the reign of Haldrin III (468-494) some attempt is made on the king’s part to formalize these conflicts into tournament—using less fatal skill-at-arms challenges (such as jousting) to settle the grievances.  To an extent this works, as the tournaments become a greatly enjoyed social event, but it in no way replaces the actual battles. But Druthal was so disjointed that almost no one had noticed that Kellirac had united under Gerfurt, who had been named “Dudrican”, the Kell equivalent of king.

In 483 Gerfurt took an army of Kelliracs and sacked the city of Gorivow in the county of Brellin.  While the Baron of Gorivow fancied himself an excellent tactician, he was in no way prepared for the full fury of a Kellirac assault, and Gorivow fell.  The Kellirac army then pushed west, wrecking its way through Maquisa, Keonia and Prenkaw, until the combined forces of the Counts of Itasa and Kesta met him at Torest to hold him at bay.  Gerfurt is forced to more his army into the city as they lay siege on it.  Haldrin III put out the call to arms, and many Druth lords quickly responded.  Several Waish Clans, notably the Arrowflights, came to aid the Druths, mostly for the chance to fight the Kellirac.  As these forces unite, Gerfurt breaks his army through the Itasans and Kestans and heads up the river to Maradaine.

Gerfurt’s forces are met by the combined Druth and Waish forces at the city of Delikan, and he is unable to get a foothold in the city to use as shelter.  After a long and terrible battle the Kelliracs are defeated and Gerfurt is captured.  The Druth and Waish are eager to execute him, but emissaries from Kieran and Acseria are on hand to point out that by the treaty of Trade Nations, he must be tried, and being of noble blood, he must be treated with a degree of respect.  A court is assembled (upon which sits Haldrin III), and a proper punishment for Gerfurt is decided upon.  He is exiled to Bardinae, but allowed to take a small force (no more than 200 men), and given the title "Emperor Gerfurt of Colthinwia".  Colthinwia is a small, inhospitable island off of the Bardinic coast.

While Druthal puts its efforts into rebuilding, a new version of the Trade Nations Treaty is written, in which it is decreed that Kellirac will be permanently divided into four parts of equal power, and never allowed reunification.

In 494 an older, bitterer Gerfurt attacks Maradaine by sea with his new Bardinic army.  He manages to take the Druthalians by surprise, and occupies the city.  He has Haldrin III executed, and himself named King of Druthal.  He then sends his Bardinic fleet upriver to attack Delikan and further Druth cities.  Three months later, he is turned out by Prince Caldrais, who declares that since Gerfurt has had a trial and violated the court’s decision that no more trials are necessary and has Gerfurt executed, and his generals tortured. King Caldrais (494-513) is a harsh ruler, bitter over his father's death.  Under his rule, the Council of Counties submits to his authority.

Sixth Century
Druthal spends the rest of Caldrais’ reign repairing and rebuilding.  Trade with Druthal’s neighbors diminishes as the borders are more tightly controlled.  Overseas trade with the east all but disappears as The Great Eastern War begins in 511.  Some Druth soldiers and members of the Orders travel east to join up as mercenaries in the war, but otherwise the Trade Nations stay uninvolved in the whole affair.

After Caldrais’ death, the authority of the throne once again diminishes as the Council regains power.  The reigns of Gelmin II (513-524), Falsham IV (524-549), Gelmin III (549-557) and Gelmin IV (557-581) are only remarkable in how unremarkable they are.  Once again the Counts fall into the pattern of small wars and tournaments.  The Counts pushed for more power, and increased the taxation of their lands.  The poorest class, the serf, which had before been merely struggling, were now in a state of oppression, as the taxes crushed any chance they had at making more than the merest subsistence living.

It was Haldrin IV (581-602) who showed a degree of cleverness in playing the Counts against each other.  Realizing he had little power at his disposal, he created havoc in the social circles of the nobles by using one of the few authorities he had left—the granting of title.  He announced that Count Otherin of Rinaser was now a Duke, the first Druth to bear that title.

Immediately the court of Druthal was astir—Counts scrambled to curry Otherin’s favor, or Haldrin’s, or to plot against them both.  Haldrin treated it all as a game, and when the game got boring for him, he would name another Duke (sometimes one of the ones plotting against him), and the lords would all pounce again.  The political scheming and backstabbing reached a new high in Druthal, which Haldrin never took seriously, because for him it was merely entertainment.

Seventh Century

When Haldrin IV died in 602, approximately half of the former Counts were now Dukes.  Haldrin V (602-617) was no where near as clever or as easily amused by these games.  Unable to play the Counts the way his father had, he was quickly pressured into naming the rest of them Dukes.  Their new titles now secured, the Dukes of Druthal went back to their political intrigues against each other, using the throne as a tool in their games.

This line of kings, originating with Haldrin in 398, was the longest in Druth history.  The line was beginning to suffer from too much intermarriage as the bad traits continued to surface.  Fendrick III (617-629) was not very clever, nor was Bintral II (629-652).  The both held the throne well enough for the needs of the Dukes, however.  It was during the reign of Bintral II that the Orlikan Plague stuck.

Believed to have come from the east through the Fuergans, Orlikan (from the Fuergan for “Slowing Breath”) attacked the lungs, making it harder and harder to breathe until one was too weak to breathe at all, and then died.  Unfortunately, it would take months to notice it happening, but then only a few days to die.  When the Druths started to notice the increase in deaths in Lacanja, the city where it seemed to have started, they decided to quarantine the city in 649.  At that point it had been too late, the disease had long since spread throughout the country. There are massive deaths, and whole communities become empty from it.

The plague, spreads like wildfire throughout Druthal, as well as Waisholm and Kieran, and wipes out large amounts of their populations.  Farmland lays fallow for years.  The king himself dies from it in 652.  Kellirac, being somewhat isolated geographically, is virtually unaffected by the plague.

Bintral III (652-674) inherits a wounded, bleeding kingdom.  By 670 the plague dies down, but the aftereffects are serious.  Druthal is struck with famine, as well as economic depression.  Serfdom is no longer viable, since the lowest classes were struck the hardest by the plague and the serfs are almost completely wiped out.  Since good workers become a valuable commodity, the Dukes and lesser lords are forced to sell land and hire yeomen to work the land.   When Bintral IV (674-684) becomes king, Druthal is only starting to mend itself.

In 684, King Bintral IV dies, and his son Shalcer (684-719) takes the throne.  Due to the fact that most of the Dukes and Lords are occupied with their own concerns, few notice that Shalcer is an incompetent fool.

Duke Malcor of Rinaser, financially devastated by the effects of the plague, tries to crack down on taxation of his populace, which do not respond well.  In 687, Ian Acorin, a rich landowner, leads a middleclass revolt against Malcor and the rest of the nobility in Rinaser.  Malcor discovers his resources are quite depleted, and he is unable to mount a defense.  Acorin and his followers gain control, and Malcor and many of his barons are executed.

By 689, Acorin was moving north and east with his "Banner of Freedom", which appeals to the overtaxed middle and lower classes.  They effectively extinguish the noble presence in the region.  Rinaser, Weisa, Wenika and Erytina unite and declare themselves seceded from the Druth throne.  King Shalcer, too mired in financial problems to do anything about this, lets the lands go.  The Free Republic of Acoria is formed.  The Kieran Empire sends diplomats to Acoria, much to the annoyance of King Shalcer.  Ian Acorin gladly accepts the emissaries, which gives his new country more credence.

Following Acorin's lead, an ambitious Warlord named Marit Terkin (who recently had a failed bid to be Preceptor) takes control over Prenkaw in a rather bloody coup in 692. Terkin moves east with his ragtag army and takes Keonia and Maquisa.  He declares himself the Lord of Oblune.  Shalcer attempts to marshal his forces to reclaim the lost areas.

By 697 the Druthalian army is moving against Oblune, but Shalcer suffers hideous losses against Terkin's armies. While this is happening, the counties of Forleon, Drikam and Pital secede, forming Patyma, a monarchy, placing Duke Parlik of Drikam on the throne.  The main reason for secession was stated as "intolerance of Shalcer's gross incompetance."  Shalcer concedes the complete loss of the Northeast.  The county of Brellin, cut off completely from the rest of Druthal, decides that it must be its own autonomous state.  Shalcer does nothing to discourage this.

No comments: