Birodi is an island barony consisting of an archipelago in the Mare Inibris. It lies 50 miles due south of Tibos. It has a population of about 2,200 people in two small towns and nineteen villages scattered over an area of 122 square miles. Its largest and most influential settlement is Modna. The language is Birodi, which is a dialect of Central Lagic, with a great deal of influence from Urbian and Fordanish Dunedoran, and an occasional loan word from Chazian.
Birodi has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Its location in the center of the Mare Inibris has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, with a succession of powers having contested and ruled the islands, including the early Chazians, the Urbiot Empire, the Chazian Empire, Lagic Kalifates, Fordanish, and Dunedoran. Most of these foreign influences have left some sort of mark on the country's ancient culture.
The current population is 2,200 people residing in two small towns and nineteen villages. Currently, 13.48 square miles (or 8,630 acres) is being used for agriculture, just over 11% of the total land area. Traditionally, the areas currently under cultivation were only two-thirds of the arable land of the villages and towns, with the other third being the demesne of the Baron of Birodi. This would add another 4,315 acres (5.5 % of the total land area) under cultivation, but the demesne land has been allowed to lay fallow or grow wild since shortly after The Second Crusade.
Currently, there are 443 households. Twenty-six own a Hide of land (120 acres). Ninety-two households claim a Virgate (30 acres of land). 118 Households are Half-Virgators, owning fifteen acres of land. Thirty-eight households are Quarter-Virgators, owning eight acres of land. The remaining 169 households are Smallholders, owning four acres or less. Most of the 47 tradesmen households are Smallholders. Of those tradesmen, there are ten small quarries scattered across the island of Juxo and the west side of the main island of Birodi. There are also fifty households that make a sizeable part of their living from fishing. Seven households are provided for by Wardens (three in Modna, one in Rabat, and one each in Conspiua, Birzebuga, and Kirkewa) who are charged with keeping some semblance of order in their communities. There are also four households provided by Man- or Maidservants (Two in Modna, one in Rabat, and one in Conspiua). There are also sixty clergy and one Ordained Priest.
There 3224 domestic fowl on the islands, mostly chickens and geese, with an occasional duck.
There are 577 oxen on the islands, and 1042 other animals, mostly pigs, sheep, and goats, with only an occasional diary cow (maybe 1 or two per village).
The maximum population that could be supported without food imports is approximately 10,980- but that means that all arable land is under cultivation (which is half of the total land area, or 61 square miles, or 39,040 acres- one third of which would be the demesne and belonging to the Baron of Birodi), and 3,829 people of that total would be landless laborers.
Politics and Government
The populace of Birodi have been left to their own devices since The Second Crusade. There are seven armigerous families, descendants of the former baronial family's retainers, in the archipelago. Three are based in Modna, one in Rabat, and one each in Conspiua, Birzebuga, and Kirkewa, where they have traditionally been a major political faction in their respective settlements (though those in Conspiua and Birzebuga have lost much of their influence due to being unable to protect their communities from the pirates and related dangers that until recently overran the archipelago). There are another nineteen households that claim a Hide of land (120 acres). In those villages without a noble household, these Hideholders tend to be most influential political faction in their settlement. Most settlements run their own affairs through a town or village council made up of the most influential members of their particular community.
Birodi has had followers of the Church of Aner since the time of he early church, though most of the population were predominantly followers of Tarikala while under Lagic rule, who tolerated Anerians. Fordanish rulers expelled all followers of Tarikala who did not convert. Today, the Urbian Anerian Church is the most common religion. There are two full churches in the archipelago, one in Modna and the other in Rabat, though there is only one Ordained Priest on the islands. However, there are a total of sixty other clergy in the archipelago to see to the spiritual needs of the populace, with each village having at least a two.
Birodi architecture has been influenced by many different Mare Inibris cultures over its history. The first settlers on the island constructed megalithic temples, some of the oldest man-made freestanding structures in Kementari. The Neolithic temple builders endowed the numerous temples of Birodi and Juxo with intricate bas-relief designs, including spirals evocative of the tree of life and animal portraits, designs painted in red ochre, ceramics and a vast collection of human form sculptures. These can be viewed at the temples themselves (most notably, the Hypogeum). Birodi's temples are full of history and have a story behind them. They can be seen at Birzebuga, Bugiba, Hagar Qim, Modna, Mosta, Rabat, and Zejtun.
Modna is built at the foot of an ancient Chazian acropolis. The Urbian period introduced highly decorative mosaic floors, marble colonnades, and classical statuary. There are Urbian remains near Birzebuga, Conspiua, Hagar Qim, Modna, and Naxar. The early Anerian frescoes that decorate the catacombs beneath Birodi reveal a propensity for Chazian Empire tastes. These tastes continued to inform the endeavors of medieval Birodi artists, but they were increasingly influenced by the Urbianesque movement, best seen in the decor of the small Fordanish Keep at Rabat.
Local homes are made of limestone blocks covered in a whitewash, and tend to have blank fronts on the streets with open areas on the roof that are used for gatherings in the evening. The backs of the buildings usually have porches used for cooking and the garden area often has a small pool or cistern to store water for the household. Larger homes are built around an open courtyard with a pool or cistern, following an Urbian villa model. Roofs and upper patios are usually connected with terracotta pantile gutters and drains to a pool or cistern that serves the building or settlement. Towns tend to be small and closely packed, with most streets barely ten feet wide. Their layout is very haphazard and organic. However, most settlements have communal cisterns which are used to store the runoff from rains for later use by the inhabitants. These are accessed from public wells.
Birodi cuisine shows strong Tibos influence as well as influences of Okendenten, Shuzian and Duchy of Ivenia cuisines. A number of regional variations, particularly with regards to the northern island of Juxo, can be noted as well as seasonal variations associated with the seasonal availability of produce and Anerian feasts. Food has been important historically in the development of a Birodi identity, in particular the traditional fenkata (i.e., the eating of stewed or fried rabbit). Being an archipelago, the most common protein is fish of some type, but lamb and especially rabbit is also popular. There are also a number of grapes endemic to Birodi. As a result, there is a strong wine tradition, with significant production of wines using these native grapes, as well as locally grown grapes of other more common varietals.
The Birodi people have a reputation for generosity, with most, if not all contributing to charity in one form or another.
Birodi folktales include various stories about mysterious creatures and supernatural events. While giants, witches, and dragons feature in many of the stories, some contain entirely Birodi creatures like the the "kawkaw" or "gawgaw", a grey and slimy creature who roamed the streets at night and could smell out naughty boys and "Il-Beligal", a monster that lived in wells and could pull in children who looked into them, among others. The traditional Birodi obsession with maintaining spiritual (or ritual) purity means that many of these creatures have the role of guarding forbidden or restricted areas and attacking individuals who broke the strict codes of conduct that characterizes the island's society.
Traditional Birodi proverbs reveal a cultural importance of childbearing and fertility: "iz-zwig mingar tarbija ma fix gawja" (a childless marriage cannot be a happy one). In Birodi folktales the local variant of the classic closing formula, "and they all lived happily ever after" is "u gamru u spicat" (and they lived together, and they had children together, and the tale is finished). Birodi shares a number of superstitions regarding fertility including the avoidance of cemeteries during the months leading up to childbirth. Pregnant women are encouraged to satisfy their cravings for specific foods, out of fear that their unborn child will bear a representational birth mark (Birodi: xewqa, literally "desire" or "craving"). Birodi and Tibos women also share certain traditions that are believed to predict the sex of an unborn child, such as the cycle of the moon on the anticipated date of birth, whether the baby is carried "high" or "low" during pregnancy, and the movement of a wedding ring, dangled on a string above the abdomen (sideways denoting a girl, back and forth denoting a boy).
Birodi newborns are baptised as promptly as possible, should the child die in infancy without receiving this vital Sacrament; and also because according to Birodi folklore an unbaptised child is not yet an Anerian, but "still a Lagic". Birodi delicacies served at a baptismal feast include biskutini tal-magmuja (almond macaroons covered in white or pink icing), it-torta tal-marmorata (a spicy, heart-shaped tart of chocolate-flavoured almond paste), and a liqueur known as rozolin, made with rose petals, violets, and almonds. On a child's first birthday, Birodi parents organize a game known as il-qukija, where a variety of symbolic objects would be randomly placed around the seated child. These may include a hard-boiled egg, a Bible, crucifix or rosary beads, a book, and so on. Whichever object the child shows the most interest in is said to reveal the child's path and fortunes in adulthood. Money refers to a rich future while a book expresses intelligence and a possible career as a teacher. Infants who select a pencil or pen will be writers. Choosing Bibles or rosary beads refers to a clerical or monastic life. If the child chooses a hard-boiled egg, it will have a long life and many children.
Birodi weddings feature the bridal party walking in procession beneath an ornate canopy, from the home of the bride's family to the parish church, with singers trailing behind serenading the bride and groom. The Birodi word for this custom is il-gilwa. New wives would wear the gonnella, a traditional item of Birodi clothing. The nuptials are usually followed by a reception that features music (gana) and dancing.
Local festivals are commonplace in Birodi and Juxo, celebrating weddings, christenings and, most prominently, saints' days, honoring the patron saint of the local parish. On saints' days, in the morning, the festa reaches its apex with a High Mass featuring a sermon on the life and achievements of the patron saint. In the evening, then, a statue of the religious patron is taken around the local streets in solemn procession, with the faithful following in respectful prayer. The atmosphere of religious devotion is preceded by several days of celebration and revelry: processions, fireworks, and late-night parties.
Native fashions are heavily influenced by those of the Shuzia due to the climate and to the history of the islands. Unlike northern Kementari where the primary material is wool, on Birodi most clothing is made of light cotton and usually layered. Clothing tends to be very loosely cut and brightly colored with embroidered bands around hems and openings.
Both sexes wear light cotton shifts as undergarments, with the men also wearing light cotton short pants. Over their legs, both sexes wear ankle-length very loosely cut pants. Over their shifts, both sexes wear loose cut light cotton tunics. Around their waist, they wear a broad sash that encircles their body at least twice and then ties at one hip (usually on the side of their dominate hand) and often has embroidered ends. In the folds of the sash is where most inhabitants keep their smaller personal effects. Over their tunic, they wear a "Jebela", a billowing cloak-like coat that has holes for each wrist, and a slit up the front to a neck hole. On their heads, most inhabitants where a "kefya", a long piece of material that acts as combination of headscarf, neck scarf, mask, or hat, depending on how it is worn by the individual at the time.
In the winter (such as it is compared with northern Kementari), they sometimes wear a light woolen half circle cloak with a deep hood.
On their feet they usually wear light leather shoes for most uses. Those that are doing hard manual labor will wear actual leather boots, and in the winter the inhabitants often wear fleece lined leather low boots- especially those that must spend a significant amount of time outdoors.
Because of Birodi's geography, farmland is usually terraced up and down the hillsides. The terraces are constructed to retain as much runoff as possible. Crops include carob (usually used for animal fodder), olives, grapes, and fruit trees (including oranges and lemons). There is a native species of honeybee, and honey is a significant export good. Rabbits are also endemic to the islands, and small flocks of sheep and goats are kept as well. There are a few cattle and horses, but they are limited due to their size and the amount of grazing area needed for them. Since the road network across the main island of Birodi is at most 12 miles long and villages are usually only a mile or two apart, most people walk rather than ride- so horses are not in big demand.
The populace of Birodi grows three major seed crops for their own use. Half of their planting is Barley, thirty five percent of the planting is wheat, and the remaining fifteen percent of the planting is Chickpeas, Field Peas, or Lentils. Twenty percent of the harvest is stored for seeding the next year. After that, ten percent is given to the Urbian Anerian Church as a tithe. Finally, twenty percent is given to the local political power as feudal dues. Only two thirds of the land currently ready for tilling is used in any one year, as the peasants of Birodi use a three-field system for planting.
Barley is sown in the late fall, and is harvested nine weeks after the spring growth for a late spring harvest. A second planting takes ten weeks for a late summer harvest. Average yield is 2304 lbs. per acre. It takes 2.2 lbs. to brew a gallon of beer.
Winter wheat can be harvested in the Spring, eight months after sowing. Wheat sown in the Spring takes four months to mature for a Fall harvest. Average yield is 1600 lbs. per acre.
Chickpeas, Field Peas, and Lentils are sown in the spring for a fall harvest. Average yield is 1600 lbs. per acre.
In garden plots, Birodi natives also grow Eggplants, Peppers, Broccoli, Cabbage, Zucchini, and Cucumbers.
This small archipelago is about 50 miles due south of Tibos. It consists of the main island of Birodi, then the small island of Kurusas to the Northwest, then the slightly larger island of Juxo farther to the northwest, surrounded by smaller rocky outcroppings. The islands are limestone with a thin layer of soil on top. Birodi and Juxo have limestone hills and plateaus that rise up several hundred feet (over 800 feet on Birodi) that tend to cause high chalky cliffs on their southwest sides. Their irregular coastlines have many small harbors and Birodi itself has three large deepwater harbors, two on the northeast corner, and on on the southeast side of the island. Although there are some small rivers at times of high rainfall, there are no permanent rivers or lakes on Birodi. However, some watercourses have fresh water running all year round near the westernmost coast of the main island, at Bugiba, and near Rabat.
Birodi has a warm mild climate, with mild winters and dry summers that are hotter in the inland areas. Rainfall occurs mainly in the autumn and winter, with summer being generally dry. The average yearly temperature is around 73 °F during the day and 60 °F at night. In the coldest month – Icemath – the typical maximum temperature ranges from 54 to 64 °F during the day and minimum 43 to 54 °F at night. In the warmest month – Growmath – the typical maximum temperature ranges from 82 to 93 °F during the day and minimum 68 to 75 °F at night. Large fluctuations in temperature are rare. Snow is very rare on the islands. The average annual sea temperature is 68 °F, from 59–61 °F in Plowmath to 79 °F in Growmath. In the 6 months – from Growmath to Buildmath – the average sea temperature exceeds 68 °F. The annual average relative humidity is high, averaging 75%, ranging from 65% in Ripemath (morning: 78% evening: 53%) to 80% in Hearthmath (morning: 83% evening: 73%).
Fauna & Flora
Birodi has a native species of honeybee and several native species of grapes. Rabbits are very common, and as the population is primarily composed of farmers, are seen as a local scourge.
Honey- Honey is available 5 months after establishing a new hive. It requires one acre of pollen-bearing plants per hive. One hive produces 30 lbs. of honey each year. One jug is 16 lbs. The base cost is 2 gp/lb.
Olive Oil- Trees bear fruit five years after planting, reaching full production eight years after planting. Stable yields start after sixty five years and last for fifteen years. After about eighty years production from a given tree gradually tapers off. Yields average 400 gallons of oil per acre per year (after 5 years). One barrel is 40 gallons and weighs 374 lbs. The base cost is 5 sp/gallon.
Wine- Grapes bear fruit consistently three years after planting. Average yield is 300 gallons per acre (after three years). One barrel is 40 gallons and weighs 470 lbs. The base price is 3 sp, 8 cp/gallon for table wine. The good stuff has a base price of 1 gp, 2 sp, 5 cp/gallon, but takes two years to age.
Cotton- Plants take twenty seven weeks from seed to harvest. Average yield is 500 lbs per acre. One bale is 500 lbs. The base price is 1 gp/lb.
Pipeweed- Leaves must be aged for 5 years. Average yields are 975 lbs. per acre. One bale is 75 lbs. The base price is 6 sp/bale.
Dried Fruit (Figs)- Consistent yields start after four years after planting. They have two crops per year (late spring and fall). Average yield is 1000 lbs. per acre, which equals five 40 gallon barrels (200 lbs. each). Each 40 gallon barrel weighs 270 lbs. The base price for dried figs is 2 cp/lb.
Oranges- The fruit will keep for three weeks, and is much in demand by sailors. Trees bear fruit three years from planting. Average yield is 4500 lbs./acre per year. One 40 gallon barrel holds 240 lbs of oranges and weighs 310 lbs. The base price is 2 cp/lb.
Lemons- The fruit will keep for three weeks, and is much in demand by sailors. Trees bear fruit three years from planting. Average yield is 5000 lbs./ acre each year. One 40 gallon barrel holds 240 lbs of lemons and weighs 310 lbs. The base price is 2 cp/lb.
Limestone- 1 cubic foot is 160 lbs. Base price is 1 sp, 2 cp/cubic foot.
Lumber- There are almost no trees on Birodi that are not part of a crop. As a result, wood is always needed on the islands.
Salt- The dried fruit (figs) requires salt for drying and packing, and there are no major salt sources on the islands.
Iron, Bronze, Brass- Birodi has no natural sources of metals. The iron has obvious uses, and the brass and bronze are used by sailors and fishermen due to their corrosion resistance.
Luxury goods- The armigerious families and the wealthier commoners will appreciate Precious Metals, Spices, Silk Cloth, Furs (other than rabbit), Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, and Marble.
Economy and Trade
A sailing ship can carry 100 tons, or 200,000 lbs of goods. It costs 10,000 gp to purchase outright. Crew costs are 30 gp/day. Cargo hauling fees are usually 6 sp/ton/day. A sailing ship can cover 120 miles/day.
Chazia is 9 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of most commodities, but especially Dried fish, Dried fruits, Grains and flours, Olive oil, and Wines.
- It is also has a DEMAND for most commodities, but especially Precious metals, Brass, Iron, Lead, Pigs, Honey, Pork, Salt, Spices, Cotton, Cloths of all types, Furs, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, Pipeweed, Lumber, and Marble.
Alkrak is 8 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of Copper, Horses, Sheep, Dried Fish, Dried fruits, Grains and flour, Sheep's wool, and Pipeweed.
- It has a DEMAND for Precious metals, Iron, Honey, Salt, Spices, Cotton, Cotton cloth, Silk cloth, goat's wool, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, Granite, Lumber, and Marble.
Digos is 7 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of Dried Fruit, Olive oil, and Pipeweed.
- It has a DEMAND for Precious metals, Brass, Iron, Pigs, Dried Fish, Honey, Spices, All types of cloth, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, and Lumber.
Barceras is 7 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of Lead, Horses, Dried fruits, and Wines.
- It has a DEMAND for Brass, Iron, Precious metals, Spices, Cloths of all types, Furs, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, Pipeweed, Granite, and Lumber.
Urbia is 6 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of Cattle, Oxen, Sheep, Grains and flours, Olive Oil, Wines, Sheep's wool, Granite, and Limestone.
- It has a DEMAND for Brass, Iron, Lead, Precious metals, Horses, Spices, Cloths of all types, Furs, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, Pipeweed, Lumber, and Marble.
Ebbud's trade port is 5 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of Sheep, Dried fruits, Grains and Flours, Salt, Sheep's Wool, and Pipeweed.
- It has a DEMAND for Iron, Precious metals, Horses, Honey, Spices, Cotton, Cotton cloth, Silk cloth, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, and Lumber.
Kast is 4 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of many commodities, but especially Dried fruits and Pipeweed.
- It has a DEMAND for many commodities, but especially Brass, Iron, Lead, Precious metals, Pigs, Honey, Pork, Salt, Spices, Cloths of all types, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, Lumber, and Marble.
Agarat is 3 days sail by sailing ship away.
- It is a SOURCE of Copper, Camels, Dried Fish, Dried fruits, Grains and Flours, Salt, and Pipeweed.
- It has a DEMAND for Iron, Precious metals, Horses, Honey, Spices, Cotton, Cotton cloth, Silk cloth, Goat's Wool, Gems, Ivory, Worked Leather, Lumber, and Marble.
By 1100, the Baronial line had died out, and the Barony reverted to the Duke of Ivenia, where it was handed down to the descendants of Stephen VIII. This included Constance of Ivenia, who was the Duchess of Ivenia in her own right when she married Gilbert Curtmantle, High King of Tolpereth in 1138. Thus, the title was handed down to Gilbert's sons as they became High King of Tolpereth. Ranulf Coer-de-Leon, High King of Tolpereth stopped briefly at Birodi on his way to The Second Crusade. However, his death without heir caused the Barony to fall to his younger brother, Humphrey Lackland, when he became High King of Tolpereth. Humphrey had many issues with his barons, and let the rule of the Barony lapse due to the various other events of his reign. However, the title still fell to his son, Gilbert III of Tolpereth.
When the Count of Pontheus led the Ivenian nobility in revolt against Gilbert III of Tolpereth during the War of the Crowns, the Barony did not join the revolt (mainly because there was no Baron). When Saint Jean, King of Dunedor, invested the Count of Pontheus as the new Duke of Ivenia, the Barony was not mentioned, as it apparently had been forgotten. So, among the titles of Edmund, High King of Tolpereth can be found the Baron of Birodi. The actual practical rulers of Birodi were corsairs and pirates who used it's excellent harbors to intercept and plunder the trade routes across the southern Mare Inibris.
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