Sunday, April 8, 2018

On the Consolidation of the Ancient Ersuunians.

History seems to enjoy starting cycles just as much as it likes seeing those cycles broken.

It began a new cycle with the settling-down of the Ersuunian tribes into semi-sedentary or even fully agrarian communities within a few generations of mastering the Basin for themselves. They still maintained animal herding as their chief industry, but their vast pasture lands became more rigidly delineated from one another's over time, even to the point that they were individually owned by a chieftain and/or his people. Other land was tilled and farmed, not so that the people could live off of the fruits of those lands themselves, but so that the vast herds would have stored grains to subsist off of every winter.

It isn't explicit where this large number of agricultural workers came from all of a sudden, but I am open to the speculation that they were the first Esgodarrans and lower-caste Ersuunians living together in any sort of cooperation, with firsthand experience and knowledge of the land coming from the hill-people of the periphery. That extensive harvesting of tree products never caught on among the ancient Ersuunians at this time also indicates to me that it was a specialization developed by the Esgodarrans who were pushed farthest into the hilly forests from their original, more pastoral homelands.

Small-scale raiding and regional disputes kept the tribes mostly separate until a warrior named Gohr united them. He did this by launching an aggressive campaign across the basin, incorporating defeated groups into his army and continually pushing forward from south to north, until he was able to force the coalition of tribes battling against him into a stalemate. He then extended an offer for peace and the other chieftains, expecting him to demand of them a treaty which would heavily favor him and ensure him the customary decades of tribute plus bonuses, reluctantly agreed.

Gohr had different ideas in mind however, and at the banquet where they had all gathered together, his political rivals were all poisoned. This included the heads of allied families, and many members of each noble family as well, leaving the entire basin in a state of political instability which Gohr was able to mold to his liking. Out of this vomit-slicked usurpation, he became a proper king. To this day, even in Deneroth's heavily influenced as well as reformed dialectical Ersuut, the phrase "invited to a warlord's dinner" survives to describe an experience expected to be bad, but turning out to be even worse.

This king consolidated his power and pioneered the greater use of agriculture by his people, though the cavalry elite which had won him his battles was exempted from this, as well as the eventual land-tax system which was put in place. It is said that while his riders expanded his domain even farther beyond the heartland of the basin, Gohr's subjects grew skinny and complaisant while Gohr himself grew fat and complacent. A little more than twenty years after taking power, before an heir had been decided upon, one among his corps of nomad-cavalry organized a coup which saw him overthrown, and a new dynasty put in place. Though Gohr did not die from it personally, mass poisoning was used once more as a political tactic.

This set the trend for the next several centuries, as hot-blooded young heroes from the marginal lands of the basin won the allegiance of the riders, overthrew the acculturated and corrupt dynasty, became acculturated and corrupt in turn, and was then overthrown by the next young hero from the periphery.

Successive generations of rulers in their palisade-towns and nascent stone-foundation cities were keenly aware of this cycle, and attempted to break it. Naturally, the remaining dedicated equestrians were opposed to all measures taken. But over the grinding years of centuries, the mobility and independence of those pastoralists was diminished until they could pose no credible threat to their lords, and the ways of war among the Ersuunians transitioned from being focused on an almost mercenary mounted elite to including far more mixed varieties of specialized and in some cases even career soldiers. It took generations of bloodshed and repeatedly denied justice by a hundred different parties, but finally an uneasy peace settled over the basin, where political strife more and more took the form of courtly intrigue over open warfare.

And then Haraal showed up.

No comments:

Post a Comment