The dominant power in the northern part of the continent of Marivar, the Marivan Empire rose to greatness over the course of a century, ruled strongly for a further 200 years and then gradually collapsed into a paranoid dictatorship. This proved a self-fulfilling philosophy as population movements put the Empire under pressure, citizens deserted it and it collapsed, though remnants of it's organisation and culture transplanted to Tarusia and are particularly apparent in Orris and the The Torren Republics. Though the The Churran Empire lays claim to be the continuation of the Marivan empire no scholar outside Chur takes the claim seriously.
Although it dates its foundation to the Vision of Nobrin Swordlord this was the "call to greatness" and it was not until 170 years later that Abran was acknowledged as first Emperor. Over the following 500 years the Empire grew steadily until it covered virtually the whole of the continent of Marivar. However at this point decadence set in and the Empire largely withdrew from the provinces south of the Long Range as a series of increasingly self obsessed and paranoid emperors focused on personal security and the politics became increasingly violent.
The arrival of the wandering isle of Nabriz brought the empire's doom for with it came the Ara'koi, who swept the empire from its western provinces driving a series of population movements which, among other things resulted in the colonisation of Tarusia. Those not subjugated to the Ara'koi or emigrating rejected the old elite and over the following centuries their civilisation diverged though are still clearly related in custom, language and so on.
The Empire's origin dates back to the Vision of Nobrin Swordlord - a petty chieftain in the river lands of The Vale of Arabour
who had a vision of a mighty empire built on the agricultural riches of the lands surrounding the Harren-var. Whilst appealing to many along the river the, Nobrin was not the man to unite the peoples of the Harren-var and several generations passed before the five proto-provinces emerged to strive for overall supremacy. The eventual triumph of Abrand followed The Battle of Harren Marsh
and in a sensible piece of politics he chose to take Nobrin's vision as the foundation date of the empire so that the year count was based on a shared point of agreement rather than one group's domination over another.
At Abrand's time the provinces covered around a third of the Harren-var's basin and through the years of the First Emperors it grew within these confines comin into contact and conflict with the pastoralists of the east. Their incorporation into the Empire was the trigger for the Imperial Crown to become hereditary as the differences of view and focus of the wider empire made agreement on matters of succession increasingly difficult.
Likewise the expansion of the empire into the north triggered the next wave of organisational changes as the new provinces brought new challenges in control and administration and broadened further the cultural differences within the empire.
Although never formally dissolved the empire did rather disintegrate with provinces going their own way after the Ara'koi overtook the lands around Imperial Bay. Although the Churran Empire presents itself as a continuation of the Marivan Empire there is no overlap of lands and there was a century when the term "Empire" was only used as a historical term.
The population of Marivar, in the time of the Empire, comprised two major ethnic groups - broadly those of the mountains and the north and those of the southern regions. The Marivan Empire was largely a creation of the north and paid little attention to the lands beyonf the Long Range
. In the Empire's early years there was trade with the South, but this was after the heyday of the lost cities of the Tambok Plateaus
. Some mining and quarrying activities were managed as "out of the empire" colonies as were some trading posts but there was little permanent settlement in the south, and this reduced during the Feudal Period and no migration of the southern groups to the north.
Although arguably a single ethnic group there Empires population was made up of several distinct cultural groups though all of these spoke of their origins in the mountains of the Long Range
. Aside from those who remained in the mountains, the empire was made up of four sub groups: the agriculturalists, who formed the heartland of the empire and were settled in the great western river systems; the pastoralists of the eastern areas; the mariners of the North Coast, who practised mixed agriculture and alone of the Empire's population had any comfort or ease with marine navigation beyond lakes, rivers and the most sheltered of inshore fisheries and the caste of nomadic herders and traders who might conceivably represent a separate ethnic group that had interbred for many centuries with the others. The agriculturists formed some two thirds of the Empire's population with the pastoralists a fifth and the mariners most of the remainder and the nomads (buy the mid empire period) a scant fiftieth of the total.
Initially confined to the watershed of the Harren Valley, the empire grew to encompass all of the continent of Marivar north of the Long Range
and holding significant parts of those mountainous regions. The lands of the north and west coasts of the empire retained a degree of autonomy and local flavour despite the increasingly authoritarian stance of the imperial administration. Though rich agricultural land there was little forest in the empire and the supply of timber for building was always a concern. The abundance of timber found after the discovery of Tarusia
was enough to drive a considerable shifty empire policy and the start of extra-continental expansion.
No serious attempt was made to conquor the southern parts of Marivar as these posed no threat to the empire, the space was not needed and the difficulties in communications across the mountains of the Long Range.
Though founded from a long running wars the stabilisation of the empire's frontiers, the lack or organised enemies beyond minor raiding from the mountains meant that the empire soon lost most of its martial traditions. Internal security and ceremonial troops were generally recruited from the north coast and it is probable that it was only the northerners' warrior caste's disdain for the "soft southern belly" and agriculture that saved the empire from take over from within.
The agricultural promise of the empire seldom failed with the exception of the period of famine that saw Sweetroot
become a more widespread crop. Above the cataracts the plains were well suited to grain production, with the lower reaches favouring fruit and derived goods. Pockets of mining and industrial activity established across the empire with Bilverton
the best known, though not the largest.
Transport across the empire relied on the river system supplemented by canals (notably the Grand Canal which linked the three main branches of the Harren above the level of the cataracts. Beyond this network, caravans of Dromemels plied land based trade routes and ships plied the coastal routes, though their numbers were limited by the availability of suitable timber in the Empire. Trade beyond the empire's borders was minimal and largely confined to the import of luxuries such as Bok Marble , slices and incense from the remaining tribes of the southern part of the continent.
A Map of the Empire will Arrive Shortly
Although Abran was acknowledged as the first Emperor the Empire's start is dated to 170 Nobrin Swordlord's vision 170 years earlier. This is Year 1 of the Empire.
Government through the Ages
Over it's history the Marivan Empire tried a range of government types in response to the growth of the empire and it's developing social situations. This can be summarised as 6 periods:
1: Before the Emperors - Click for details
Prior to Adbran establishing his supremecy the five provinces of the of the early empire all subscribed to Nobrin's vision and, holding themselves to be the most important part of Nobrin's area of influence saw themselves and their rulers as the most important. The Rivermeet, Northfork and Southfork were at this time hereditary lordships/petty kingdoms, whilst Harren and Nollor had a more meritocratic approach. The provinces all claimed jurisdiction over each other; they skirmished and postured by avoided war with each other and willingly co-operated in mutual defence to external aggression. The shifting web of alliances began to coalesce in the mid second century after Nobrin's vision and the competition became more hard fought until, around 155 it was clear that a civil war was in progress that would bring the provinces under a single leader. In the final round of this Abran defeated Corrol of Rivermeet in The Battle of Harren Marsh
. By this stage war weariness afflicted all of the provinces and increasing raids from the lands to the east brought the civil war to an end.
2: The First Emperors - Click for Details
Following the conclusion of the empire's first civil war we see the emergence of the Adbran - the First Emperor, so called because he was the first of the rulers to be generally acknowledged as achieving Nobrin Swordlord's vision. During this period the emperor appointed governors for each province from the leading houses of that province and the emperor was chosen by the governors when the post fell vacant, in a process similar, but on a larger scale, to Abran's homeland of Harren. Following the deposition of Myope the Shortsighted it became accepted that the governors could replace a sitting emperor if two thirds of them backed a single candidate. During this period the capital of Rivermeet province was renamed as Mariv-thip and became an independent administrative territory passed between successive emporors.
3: The Hereditary Emperors - Click for Details
The jostling and political shenanigans accompanying the election of a new Emperor became an increasing problem as memories of the civil war period were lost beyond what people could recall their grandparents talking of. With these reaching gang warfare proportions following the death of the 8th Emperor the view became established that whilst an hereditary monarchy would not ensure government by the most capable it would give some clarity and continuity. After much constitutional debate the leading houses agreed to selection of the new emperor and governors by lot. During the third constitutional period the monarch was inherited and governors were drawn from that set of leading families but served 10 year terms and career governors moved around the empire. This was the most dynamic and expansive period of the empire's history.
4: The Feudal Period - Click here for details
With the empire's size stabilised the opportunities to carve out a career in an expanding government reduced and with decadence beginning to settle on the Imperial family, the governorships became also began to be inherited, with the most common way of achieving this being intermarriage with the Imperial family. Similar approaches began to be followed by the leading houses of individual provinces and the ruling classes became increasingly tied to the land they claimed.
5: The Paranoid Period - Click here for details
For want of a better term, this saw the emergence of more authoritarian government as the emergent imperial trend of decadence descended through the ruling classes and the population became more tied to the land with only diminishing castes of caravan merchants and mariners retaining any significant freedom of movement around the wider empire.
6: The Collapse - Click here for details
Authoritarianism passed from the "harsh but understandable" in the reign of Dr'Alluth who effectively confined the empire's mariners to coastal voyages to curtail the possibility of communication with other peoples. Following the discovery of Tarusia in the reign of his grandson Hullivar the Short (see Log of the Whaler Lady Njoragh
) the system was modified by the empires hold on its citizens remained tight until the Ara'koi invasion of the western provinces. Unable to offer effective resistance the empire began to disintegrate with some the Ara'koi driving population movements that undid many people's links to the land. Most government beyond local lordships (say areas of 10 to 20 leagues across) disappeared. Having failed to use the Empire's combined might to any useful effect, most of the governing classes above that level found themselves dispossessed and cast out or, like Prince Dorimbar in Orris
actively adapted themselves to the new situation.
Having established domination over the lands north of the mountains, and with little if any civilisation remaining in the southern parts there was little scope for foreign relations as the Empire knew of no other lands until the discovery of Tarusia
, as documented in the Log of the Whaler Lady Njoragh
To the semi independent areas where the mariners dominated, the empire was not an easy neighbour but managed to maintain generally peaceful relations.
The arrival of the Isle of Nabriz and the subsequent invasion by the Ara'koi therefore faced the empire with foreign affairs situations that they had not previously encountered since the Empire's earliest days and this novelty will at the least have been a contributory factor in the Empire's ineffectual responses to this challenge.