When House Semillon
overthrew House Braehill
in the 1st Semillon Usurpation War
, it was a turning point for the Blossom Fields. House Semillon was a very minor house, based in the town of Caer Semillon
and controlling only a little territory. Their main advantage came from the Free Company
, one of the few standing armies in the early Age of Rule, which was rented out for great profit. While this made House Semillon economically powerful, the brutal efficiency of their forces made them deeply unpopular in the Blossom Fields.
When House Semillon overthrew House Braelea, they were able to capitalize on growing disagreements over wine tariffs. While this allowed them to offset some of the local dislike for their family, it won them no allies. Rather, it kept many of the former Braelea vassals neutral, waiting to see how the conflict played out. This could not be said, however, for the southern Blossom Fields nor the people of Surlee. When House Semillon finally emerged victorious, many of those they fought, and even some that stayed neutral, held onto their memories of the Braeleas and turned them into more than they were even in life. This would come to define much of the Blossom Fields even into the present day.
The geographic breakdown of Braelea loyalism, both during the wars and as a subsequent cultural force, can be divided up into three categories: within cities, within the Blossom Fields, and beyond the Blossom Fields. Within cities, even ones which held no allegiance during the wars themselves, Braelea loyalism moves as a cultural force. Nothing to do with supporting Braelea claimants, nor with strong feelings about the Hedge Wars, loyalism became an outlet for class conflict and economic dissatisfaction. A highly agrarian and rural region, the people of the Blossom Fields have used loyalism to fight back against urbanization and other socioeconomic issues. This generally breaks down around neighborhood lines, as in Surlee.
The map of conflict sides shows, in green, which areas have maintained a strong tradition of loyalism.
Within the Blossom Fields itself, towns which were involved in the Hedge Wars have used Braelea loyalism not only as a means of protest, like in the cities, but as a culturally defining trait. Blossom Fields towns are largely agrarian, based around producing one or a few key products, such as wine or cider, and generally ruled by a long-standing and relatively poor house. In the grand scheme of the Vinelands, a region of incredibly wealthy and storied cities, the valesides (the colloquial term for rural towns and their surroundings) latch on to Braelea loyalism as their form of expressing themselves, adding local flair to traditions seen across the Blossom Fields.
The lesser known, for good reason, locale of Braelea loyalism is outside of the Blossom Fields. Here it forms neither a defining cultural tradition nor an expression of economic dissatisfaction, but is a niche historical oddity. In the territory of the Ayr
, Braelea loyalism makes another notch in the belt of their disdain for mainlanders. In Somae, the Braelea Palace still exists, and there is still a remnant of the Braelea family, significant only in the world of socialites and courtiers.
Braelea loyalism has become a defining ideology of the Blossom Fields, far beyond, and often disregarding, a hope for the restoration of the Braelea family. For those living in the towns, valesides, and other rural areas of the Blossom Fields, there is a strong anti-urban streak in loyalism. As House Semillon has leaned into banking with the Bank of Anhara
, and cities like Reedbury
have only grown wealthier, places like the Blossom Fields have felt the Vinelands slipping away from its roots.
"Let it be announced and proclaimed that the area of Terracetop, colloquially known as the Lovers' Steps, is henceforth closed to all without express permission of our Lord. This extends particularly to all religious pilgrims, priestesses, and sworn brothers." - The Violet Velum
In the wider world of Anhara, the Vinelands have been thought of, in many ways because of groups like the Braeleas, as a region of chivalry, knights, shining castles, and mystical quests. With a unique culture and architecture, the Vinelands feel mystical. Despite this, House Semillon, which took over the Vinelands as a whole in the 2nd Semillon Usurpation War
, have leant into the culture and architecture of the Coquet Heights, stripping away the Braelea legacy both spiritually and physically. While this was meant to put the ghost of the Braeleas to bed, it has instead rekindled the loyalists and turned it into a cultural force.
""Find the most up-to-date Meridian styles here. Look finer than the finest ladies of the Cinquial Season!" - A Shop Advertisement in the Clothiers' Row, Surlee
Houses Semillon and Reed have, despite their best efforts, turned Braelea loyalism into an anti-urban, anti-bank, anti-coastal movement. While this has naturally hurt their control over the interior of the region, it has been further eroded by the Priestesses of Vestria
. The formal church, as well as assorted groups of religious brothers, have capitalized on the Braelea connections
to Vestria, expanding their influence in the Blossom Fields.
"Their proclivity for coups and backhanded dealings have given the Semillons quite the paranoid edge. Their fortifications are dotted throughout the countryside, every approach to the city manned, even the poor servants' entrances to their palace." - Letter from Lord Thewisy home to his wife, on a trip to the New Wine Festival
House Semillon thought targeted brutality would force a quick end to the Braelea line, and thus to resistance to their rule. By taking no prisoners, destroying House Braehill
, House Perry
and House Cyrton
, and replacing them with loyal vassals, they expected to move on from the Braeleas quickly. Instead, the brutality of the the Free Company
so disgusted potential client houses that the Semillons were forced to fully pivot from mercenaries to banking. On top of that, it added more expenses, by beginning a period of mass fort building throughout the Blossom Fields, greatly expanding the iconic valeside hillforts in House Semillons ongoing quest for legitimacy and security.
Braelea loyalism has come to express itself in many ways besides leading a campaign across the Blossom Fields. As House Semillon won, they do not take kindly to displays of open support for their predecessors. However, as it is such a pervasive cultural force, and has evolved away from advocating open rebellion, a sort of mutual understanding has been reached between the Semillons and visual demonstrations of loyalism.
The most public form of demonstration is marching, and the marching season is a major aspect of Surlee's culture, especially south of the Spill. From late Chorus to Pyrae, a series of "official" marches take place, starting with Raymon's Rest
. The official marches are organized by a secretive committee of notable citizens, and through this process, House Semillon tacitly agrees to allow the marches to take place. In exchange, the committee generally keeps the events south of the Spill, away from tourists, and non-violent, as well as shying away from counter protesting pro-Semillon marches. However, smaller groups organize marches more bent towards violence, publicity, and pressure, which are responded to with force by House Semillon and their groups.
"The Free Company of Oldtowne failed to discover the date of Raymon's Rest, the great movable feast of the year, and were taken entirely off-guard by yesterday evening's celebrations." - The Violet Velum
Besides marches, there are more subtle ways to demonstrate Braelea loyalism, often through art or craftsmanship. House Thewisy had, during the Hedge Wars, produced pewter medallions of the Braelea insignias and likenesses, as well as portraits of Etien in particular, for distribution across the Blossom Fields. After the 2nd Semillon Usurpation War
, the portraits of the long deceased Etien were updated, stylized, and produced in Somae to help destabilize House Semillon's Vinelands. These portraits, medals, and reproduced Braelea banners are frequent sights at marches and as general decoration.
Besides the visual arts, music is a major component of Braelea loyalism, especially neo-Braelea loyalism. While some songs are of ancient roots, many are later expressions of Blossom Fields culture, and in some regards, especially tavern songs, an outlet for comradery or hooliganism. For a sampling of Braelea loyalist music, see Music of the Blossom Fields