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Vitrian Hegemony

Five Dynasties and Twelve Kingdoms Period

Let the lords of the Iron City know this: Never again will our people bow their heads to foreign lords! Never again will we quake in the face of their swords! Never again!
— Saitin Kir, First Emperor of the Rouran
  Power abhors a vacuum. A saying that has held true since the earliest days of civilization. Whenever a nation falls another will take its place. And in the wake of the Final Fall of the Second Hegemony, there was many a warlord ready to fill that void. But when the dust settled, it wasn't Vardania's old powers that had taken victory. It was a new force. One that many had believed to be broken and waning. But the riders thundering across the land were very much alive. And ready to unleash an age of conquest and domination unlike any Vardania had seen before.  

A People on the Run

 
Western Rouran 2255 DA
Where the Vitrians originally emerged is unknown. They appear in history around 1450 DA, as refugees fleeing the onslaught of the Hijin hordes. First settling in eastern Scetia, they eventually began to migrate further east, into lands beyond the Great Divide. The growing Second Tarquinnian Hegemony needed manpower and opportunities abound for workers and mercenaries. By 2000 DA, the Vitrian Migration is considered to have been completed, the vast majority of Vitrians now residing on the continent.   Relations between Vardanians, Ferans and Vitrians varied depending on region and time. The final century of the Hegemony would see them militarize and radicalize, resulting in a series of wars and rebellions that would reach their peak with the conquest of most of western Vardania in the 2240s.  

Rising Power

  Following centuries are generally combined into the so-called "Vitrian Hegemony", the term "hegemony" not referring to a single nation or empire but rather the fact that the Vitrians were the dominant military, economic and cultural force on the continent. In relatively short order, five major Vitrian Empires rose in the western plains, while a multitude of smaller kingdoms emerged in the surrounding regions.  
  • Western Rouran (2242 - 2281 DA)
    Rising to power during the Second Hegemony's collapse, the Daqin managed to establish themselves as the preeminent force among the myriad of Vitrian tribes. Under their leader, Saitin Kir, the Daqin conquered much of western Vardania, including the former imperial capital of Velaris. Proclaiming himself "Emperor of the Rouran Dynasty" in 2243 DA, he used what remained of the old Imperial Structures to strengthen his new realm. When he died in 2264, his nation stood as the strongest power on the continent. His successors proved less competent and were overthrown in 2281 by the Liang Clan. A branch of the Daqin would form the realm of the Eastern Rouran, which lasted until 2341 DA.
 
  • Shatuo Liang (2279 - 2359 DA)
    The Liang were a clan of mixed Vitrian and Atheryan origin. Among the first to rise to arms when Votarian Valerian called upon his kinsemen, the Liang took part in several major campaigns of the Prince's War. Skilled warriors, they lead the Rouran to several victories over Vardanian forces. Using the influence gained during these campaigns, their leader Amir Din would drive the Rouran off and establish his own Dynasty. The Shatuo were plagued by familial rivalries and would waste much of their strength in bloody civil wars. In 2357 DA, the Jie, formerly a vassal of the Liang, would rise up and end the dynasty.
 
  • Later Jiedun (2360 - 2393 DA)
    In contrast to their predecessors, the Jie didn't focus on military expansion. Rather they tried to consolidate and centralize their state. Although short-lived, the Dynasty's impact would be felt for centuries, their attempt to fuse Vardanian and Vitrian culture contributing to the eventual acinization of the Vitrian people. While the Jie shied away from war, other Vitrian tribes would continue to expand their influence over much of northern Vardania and deep into the Summer Coast. One of those, the Liao, would overthrow the Kingdom of the Northern Zhou in 2391 and begin to invade the lands of the Jie Dynasty. In 2393 DA, the last Jie Emperor was captured and killed by Liao forces, marking the end of the Third Dynasty.
 
  • Greater Khitai (2395-2587 DA)
    Height of Power 2456 DA
    Following the conquest of the Jie, Liao forces would continue to rampage across Vardania. Led by the enigmatic Suzong Kai, they would subdue the remaining Vitrian states and in 2405 DA, Kai declared himself "Emperor of the Greater Khitai Empire". His successors would continue to expand the Empire, leading multiple punishing camapigns against their neighbours. Under Kai's grandson Suzong Gir the Empire reached its height, encompassing most of Vardania. In 2456, he crowned himself "Emperor of Xi'Ang. However, the Empire would decline a mere twenty years later. Following the disastrous Battle of Emeria in 2477, the Liao lost a large part of their military power. Formerly subdued tribes began to recover their strength and independence and the Liao would spend the majority of the era fighting off rival clans. In 2584, the Naiman Tribe rebelled and ultimately destroyed the weakened Khitai Empire in 2587.
 
  • Naiman (2588-2624 DA)
    Although the Naiman managed to successfully usurp control from the Liao, their rule was far from uncontested. They themselves faced a rebellion in 2593 DA, which saw the majority of their northern territories secede. The newly formed Northern Tang would become the Naiman's greatest rival and the Dynasty would spend much of their resources in bloody, but ultimately fruitless campaigns. Weakened the nation was unable to fend off a combined Feran-Vardanian Invasion in 2620 DA. By 2624, Velaris had fallen and Naiman armies simply dissolved. The Fifth Dynasty had come to an end.
 

Downfall

  By 2630 DA, it had become obvious that Vitrian strength was spent. Vardanian and Feran forces conquered the remaining states one by one, the last Vitrian Kingdom, the State of Anjing falling in 2634. The age of Vitrian Hegemony was over. Reasons for this decline are manifold. A minority ruling class, the Vitrians had always depended on their military strength for legitimacy. However, much of this was wasted in internecine conflicts. Additionally, Vitrian society was divided, as those favouring their ancestral nomadic lifestyle clashed with those that prefered sedentary life. A series of draughts, starting in the 2530s, only helped to accelerate the process.  

Impact

 
East vs West

The Vitrian conquests effectively split Vardania in two. Over the following centuries, the two halves developed in at times drastically different ways. Western Vardania had suffered the worst of the Prince's War and Vitrian Uprising and many cities simply vanished from the maps as people moved to safer regions. As a substantial part of the Vitrian population lived a nomadic life, large swaths of the western plains were left to become grassland. The result was a high concentration of cities along the coast and near the mountains with vast regions of empty plains or farmland in between. Even centuries later, western Vardania would still show signs of this, being less urbanized, populated and connected than its eastern half.
Cultural Exchange

Vitrian lands would become a hotbed of cultural exchange during the era. With Vardanian cultural dominion, in the form of the Tarquinnian Hegemony gone, Vardanians, Ferans and Vitrians would go on to influence one another in a much stronger and thorough way. The clash of the ancient Vitrian faiths and the Feran Vodarian Church would give way to some of the most complex theological debates witnessed and give birth to a multitude of new branches and denominations. Vitrian ideas of honour and justice would meet the Vardanian justice system and lay the groundwork for legal reforms in the next centuries. Rice, nutmeg and a variety of western fruits would make their big entrance into Vardanian cuisine during this era.
  Lasting for about 350 years, the Vitrian Hegemony would irrevocably change Vardania. In the east, the constant threat of western invasion would help to resolidify cultural boundaries between Vardanians and Ferans after centuries of Hegemonial rule. Both political and military developments of this era were strongly influenced by constant warfare and lay the foundation for the emergence of the Third Tarquinnian Hegemony in 2674 DA. In the west, Vitrian rule left an imprint that would endure until modern day, giving the region a distinct identity.  
For better or for worse, there is no denying that the Vitrians managed to shake the very foundations of Vardania and shaped events that still echo in our lives.
— Emmerik Ventis, King of Ironwood

2242 DA - 2634 DA

Related Ethnicities
Above: War Banner of the Daqin Tribe and after 2243 of the Rouran Empire. Would continue to be used by successive Dynasties.  
Third Dynasty 2376 DA
  Naming Conventions   The naming of various tribes, kingdoms and dynasties of the era is often a source of confusion. A tribe or clan would usually take a new name when coming to power, most chosen names showing no apparent connection to the rulers. The problem stems from the fact that Vitrians often sought to legitimize their rule by connecting themselves to older states, most of which had existed before the Hijin had driven them out of their ancient homeland. To distinguish these two generations of realms, historians use adverbs such as "later".   Heirs of Seron   In a twist of irony the most dangerous and enduring enemy the Vitrians faced in this era, were none other than the heirs of Seron the Red himself. Hera Valerian, the Emperor's granddaughter, survived the 2nd Hegemony's downfall in the province of Moira, which she rebuild into the Vateran Dominion. In 2251 DA, she defeated Saitin Kir at the Battle of Veii, halting Vitrian expansion into Vardania's Heartlands.   Her successors would continue her efforts, fighting the Vitrian Dynasties at every turn. Their revenge would culminate in the destruction of the Naiman Dynasty in 2624 and the reconquest of the old imperial capital of Velaris.  
11.jpg
by Dominika Mayera
  The Northern March   Quickly realising that the Northern March was vital in securing their new Hegemony, lest they be faced by invasions from both north and east, Vitrian forces took control of the area in 2244 DA. The Rouran settled several tribes behind the walls to create a permanent defence, a practice continued by their successors. It is partially thanks to their efforts that Vardania experienced nearly 1,500 years without a Barbarian Invasion.  
The Empire may be gone, ground down by traitors and savages, but its spirit lives on in every Vardanian willing to fight for it. The Hegemony is a flame that can never be extinguished.
— Hera Valerian
  Modern Day   As of the year 3332 DA, Vitrians are alive and thriving in Vardania. They constitute about 15% of the continent's total population, making them the 3rd largest group behind Vardanians and Ferans. Major population centres lie along the western coast and around the old heartland of the 2nd Hegemony.  
Beginning of the End 2600 DA

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Cover image: by zishan Liu

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Author's Notes

All maps, unless credited otherwise, have been created by Darkseid.


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