Mataran Heresy Military Conflict in The Calinan Sea | World Anvil

Mataran Heresy

"They do not get to treat us like animals any more! We are Kalriv, we have been Kalriv for centuries, and we have paid long enough! If the Guardians will raise whip to our backs, we'll raise a falx to their throats!"
-Rhetoric from the Mataran declaration of independence, 381 TE
  The Mataran Heresy was an armed conflict and slave rebellion that took place in the Kalriv Empire in the middle of the 4th Century TE, and to date is the largest full scale uprising in the Empire's history. It saw the slave population of the northern city of Matara revolt against their Kalriv overlords and seize the city, mounting an insurrection against the authority of the Empire.

The Conflict


The Kalriv Empire has the most rigid class system in Arikanda, with a dedicated class of slaves usually consisting of criminals, conquered peoples and their descendants. With the rise of militarist sentiment in the Empire, this class system was rigidly enforced, with the warrior Guardian class particularly cruel in its treatment of the slave underclass.   The city of Matara, one of the earliest Kalriv conquests, and one of the Empire's most resilient foes prior to their conquest, had been subjugated particularly ruthlessly after its conquest, with many of its population still relegated to slave status even centuries after they were assimilated into the Empire, with the Guardian and Solar residents of the city holding them in particular contempt. Mistreatment of slaves was common, and resentment had steadily grown over the past several decades.   At the time of the revolt, the Kalriv Empire, under its basileus Var Taroj, was undertaking a massive incursion into the central and southern Sapphire Coast, laying siege to Sapphran cities which would become current-day Kalriv holdings. This required a great deam of the army and its command corps to be out of Kalriv territory, leaving behind enough legionaries to maintain order and hold off an invasion long enough for the main force to return. This low manpower left the Kalriv Empire particularly susceptible to internal strife.   The catalyst of strife was the murder of a group of underperforming slaves in Matara by one of the Guardian elite. The slaves in Matara were outraged at this, with many refusing to work, instigating reprisals from their owners, which in turn caused vigilante beatings of Guardians by masked assailants believed to be slaves. To stop the matter from escalating further, the Solar priesthood in Var Kalriv arranged for a trial to be held to give the semblance of accountability. When the Guardian responsible was acquitted of murder due to the slaves being considered property and thus killing was permissible, the slaves erupted in fury, taking to the streets and attacking their overseers with nothing more than their farm implements. Through sympathetic Kalriv citizens, these slaves managed to get access to and overrun armories, turning them from simple angry labourers to an armed and dangerous militia. This, combined with a massive surge in the numbers of revoltees, saw the slaves do the impossible and overthrow the entire garrison of Matara.   Once Matara was taken, the entire non-combatant Guardian and Solar population of the city was run out by the angry slaves, with some of the more vicious Guardians coincidentally slain in the confusion. Once the city fell into the hands of the slaves, a proclamation was made stating that the slaves of Matara were free, and that the city was no longer subject to the Empire. Craftsmen and Labourers given the option to join the new city-state, flee or perish.

The Engagement

381 TE

After the proclamation of Matara went out across northern Kalriv, slaves from surrounding towns flocked to their banner, bolstered by the new militia raiding farmsteads and estates to free others. Once word of the revolt reached the capital in Var Kalriv, the Sun Legates commanding the local forces in the absence of Var Taroj ordered a token half-legion to be dispatched to attack Matara.   The Sun Legates grossly underestimated both the size and fighting force of the militia, and the half-legion was routed in the Battle of the Kerben Plain outside the walls of Matara. Winter had set in by this point, and the Legates were forced to wait out the winter before advancing in the spring of 382 TE.  

382 TE

This time, a full legion was committed, and was again shockingly defeated. At this point, each defeat had raised unrest across the Empire, with scuffles breaking out in various cities across the Empire. Rumours even abounded that the city of Lycrus, itself an old enemy which had been conquered and largely enslaved, was losing control of its own slave population. In desperation, the Sun Legates sent a messenger to Var Taroj urging him to recall his armies and crush the threat before it was too late. Taroj responded by demoting the commanders of the previous legions to Labourers and telling the Sun Legates that they would be next if they did not subdue the force immediately.   Left with little choice, the two Sun Legates commanding the home legions led a march on Matara. It was here that the Mataran militia ran into its first real challenge, being dealt moderate losses and fighting the legions to multiple standstills. The stalemate was broken however when a second militia of freed slaves from Lycrus hit the legions from the other side, outnumbering and outmaneuvering the legions and slaying the Sun Legates.   Facing the very real possibility of an empire-wide slave rebellion, with the bulk of their fighting force out of Empire territory and their home fighting force no longer assured of victory, the Sun Legates sent a second messenger to Var Taroj in the dead of winter, pleading for urgent assistance and stating that there may not be an Empire to return to if action was not taken immediately.  

383 TE

"Fine. I'll do it myself. You are all dismissed- from command, from the legion, from the Guardian class. You aren't fit to be warriors."
-Var Taroj's reported response to the Sun Legate's plea for aid
Incensed at having to abandon his conquests but left with no other choice, Taroj finally made the decision to recall half of his invasion force from the central Sapphire Coast, leaving the other half to try to hold as much as they had taken. In the spring of 383, the masses of Taroj's forces swept into the northern Sapphire Coast, annihilating militia-held settlements and destroying supply lines. Taroj's forces consisted of hardened veterans and consisted of twenty legions, which while still numerically lower than the Mataran forces, made up for it with superior training, tactics and weaponry.   The Matarans made their final stand before the gates of the city. The Lycrans, on the other hand, began to desert, seeing the full gravity of the hopeless situation they were up against. The Matarans and their allies fought bravely, but ultimately the force of numbers, superior training and equipment of Taroj's legions routed their forces, slaying most of the Mataran soldiers on the battlefield and routing the remainder, who either surrendered or were hunted down by Kalriv chariotry. The Mataran Heresy was over.


What you have committed here is the worst kind of heresy. You have defied the will of Venderus, you have scorned the vision of Mirkos and Kalros, and you have stained what it means to be Kalriv. There can be no forgiveness for this.
-A Guardian magistrate prepares to announce his verdict.
  The assembled prisoners taken during the war were judged as a unit by a panel of Guardians and Solars. Notably, there were a small number of Guardians and Solars who urged mercy, but they were overriden by Taroj directly, feeling the need to make an example of the revolt and nip it in the bud so as to ensure it would never rise again.   The population of the city of Matara were universally found guilty of heresy against the Sun God and treason against the Kalriv Empire, both capital crimes. While it was not viable to execute the entire army, all involved, either fighting or providing material support or simply allowing the uprising to happen, were again rendered slaves. A quarter of the revolting force were chosen by lot and executed by beheading. The leadership of the militia were marched to the Venderan Desert, where they suffered the worst punishment in Kalriv law; they were tied to stakes in the desert and left to perish of exposure underneath the sun. Such a punishment was considered execution by the sun itself.   Taroj followed through on his threat to render the entire Sun Legate board as Workers, and their assets and estates were seized. He then remained in Var Kalriv with his forces, to ensure that any other attempts at revolt would be put down swiftly. He never returned to the Southern front, although his forces did manage to hold most of their takings.

Historical Significance


"What I'm about to say never leaves this room - but perhaps we could have avoided this if we'd treated them a little better. That's all I'm saying. Perhaps we need to re-think this."
-a Kalriv Guardian noble who refused to release his name
  While a tactical and strategic failure, the Mataran Heresy remains the single time in history that the slave class of the Kalriv Empire were able to sustain a credible offensive and a threat, albeit small, to the Empire. It has become an inspiration to the more rebellious slaves in the Empire, who cite it as proof that the slave class's lot is not hopeless and can be challenged.   Its legacy in the mainstream Empire is complicated. Among hardliners in the Guardian and Solar classes, it was considered proof that the slave classes could not be trusted and needed to be held on a tight leash. Conversely, other Guardians and Solars were shaken by the ferocity with which the slaves fought and began to worry about more conflicts in the future. Some even took the resistance as a wake-up call to consider the morality of slavery, and a small but noticable improvement in the treatment and even emancipation of slaves resulted. Effectively, the war both improved and worsened relations and treatment of slaves in the Empire.
Conflict Type
Battlefield Type
Start Date
381 TE
Ending Date
383 TE
Conflict Result
Empire total victory


Kalriv Empire
People's Army of Matara


69000 legionaries
90000 freed slaves/militia


~12000 legionaries
50000 KIA 10000 executed 30000 re-enslaved


Cover image: by World Anvil


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