History of Etrand
The history of Etrand is relatively rich.
The Corlagonid and Hengistid dynasties were characterized by a form of "rule of the prestigious" - during that time, the Kingdom of Etrand was de jure an absolute monarchy, but the limitations in communication technology and the limited amount of bureaucracy prevented Etrand from being a de facto absolute monarchy. Nevertheless, royal authority was relatively high in that time, Kings mostly relying on the support of the Church and loyalist armies to squash dissent.
During the 4th century, the Tondbertid dynasty's authority began to soften, and Etrand gradually transformed into a de facto constitutional monarchy, even though de jure they still did not have a constitution. Some Etrandish kings between the 5th and 7th centuries had so limited amount of power that they were rulers in name only, while the real rulers were designated regents, who were mainly military strongmen or church/merchant bureocrats.
In the late 7th century and early 8th century, King Calder the Unready attempted to once again transform Etrand into an absolute monarchy, but failed. His successors however, the Bryantids largerly succeeded at where he failed, gradually corroding the feudal structure, increasing their own power at the expense of the nobility and the Church, creating a bureaucracy that allowed them to exercise their power at a scale larger than before. Quite ironically, it was at that very same time that Etrand started having a constitution for the first time.
Before the Kingdom
Before the Humans
The very first civilization in present-day Etrand was the Massenpreost Despotanfras civilization, which was exclusive to Southern Etrand - as a matter of fact, Despotanfras pyramids can be still found in certain areas of Southern Etrand.
The Ancient Lizardman Empire emerged around 20 000 BEKE, and would come to engulf not only all of Etrand and Etrancoast - save for Northern Etrand - but also expanded into present-day Dragoc and Froturn as well. Around 3500 BEKE, various Dwarven clans emerged, and their invasions and looting largely contributed to the collapse of the Lizardmen Empire, which happened around 3000 BEKE.
For the next, 1600 years, the only organized state in Etrand would be the Dwarven Kingdom of Steelhelm - the Dwarven clans north of it and the Lizardman tribes south of it would remain disorganized.
Around 2500-2000 BEKE, the first Proto-Elven landings on the shores of South-Western Artograch, near present-day Dragoc happened. The Proto-Elves would gradually make Dragoc theirs, then slowly expand into Froturn and Etrand. By 1600 BEKE, they have reached and colonized Etrancoast as well. The Proto-Elves who colonized Etrand settled mostly only in Central Etrand, as Southern Etrand remained in the hands of the Lizardmen and Northern Etrand in the hands of the Dwarves at the time. Around 1100 BEKE, the descendants of those Proto-Elves that colonized Etrand and Etrancoast evolved into the Humans we know today.
In 1138 BEKE, the now-legendary Fathred the Great unified most Human tribes of Etrand, forming Fathred's Confederation. The state would encompass nearly all of the Human-settled areas of Etrand. East of Fathred's Confederation, a rival attempt at unifying the Human tribes was also in the making - the Kingdom of Hulra. Despite failed attempts at expanding, Fathred's Confederation stood still until the death of Fathred himself - after his death the confederation began to crumble, and eventually collapsed in 1106 BEKE.
For the next eleven centuries, the only actual state in Etrand would be the Human Kingdom of Steelhelm, the unofficial successor of Fathred's Confederation. Etrand would once again be disunited, filled with tribes that bickered among each other. The Great War that raged on between 846 and 834 BEKE would temporarily force the Humans of Etrand - except Steelhelm - into unity again, but it was only temporal. The Tribal Confederacy that formed during war fell apart almost as soon as the war ended, again reverting Etrand to it's pre-war state: a bunch of tribes that bickered among each other, waging neverending turf wars. During this time however, there was some slow and gradual expansion into the South, previously Lizardman territory.
This continued until around 200 BEKE, when a new process of unification started, in which larger and more powerful tribes slowly and gradually began expanding their domain at the expense of smaller and weaker tribes, gearing up for the inevitable and ultimate confrontation with the rest of Etrand that culiminated in Corlagon's Wars of Unification. It was at the same time that High Elven Titanist missionaries started making appearences in Western Etrand, spreading their religion there.
In 10 BEKE, the Corlagon's War of Unification broke out, ending in 0 BEKE/AEKE with Corlagon founding the Kingdom of Etrand.
By 0 BEKE/AEKE, Corlagon has formally defeated all the tribes of Erand, annexing even the Human Kingdom of Steelhelm. He made Titanism the state religion, and started a brutal campaign to persecute and force-convert the Pagan population. Corlagon himself reigned for only 17 years, in which the bulk of the population remained pagan, with only mostly the nobility and townsfolk converting to this new state religion - except in Western Etrand, where two centuries of High Elven influence has spread it even among commoners.
In 34, the Orcish Invasion of Etrand started, ending in 37, resulting in the ultimate defeat of the Orcs, and the death of the Orcish king, resulting in the splitting of the Orcish Kingdom into four clans. The war however, was costly for Etrand: Talon was destroyed, the population suffered, development was set back in Southern Etrand. The Orcish invasion was not the only source of misery for King Symon the Inquisitor, who reigned between 17 and 43 AEKE - he also had to deal with the Pagan Anti-king Aelfwaird of Dracfold who ruled approximately one third of Etrand during most of Symon's reign. It was after the Orcish Invasion that the royal army - filled with battle-hardened veterans from the Orcish invasion - finally managed to break Aelfwaird's power, who was forced to convert to Titanism and swear loyalty to the King.
Under the rule of King Coenred between 43 and 69, some consolidation took place. Talon was rebuilt, the the ex-pagan ex-antiking Aelfwaird was pacified by royal marriages between the Corlagonid family and Aelfwaird's family - in fact, the Hengistid dynasty that would follow the Corlagonid dynasty would descend from this Corlagonid-Aelfwairdid dynastic marriage, paternally from Aelfwaird's side, maternally from the Corlagonid side -, a relatively effective border guard was set up to guard the frontier against Orcish incursions, the spread of the Titanist religion continued, penetrating the masses more than before.
Coenred's rule was followed by a brief two-year rule by his also-elderly younger brother Cuichelm, setting the stage for the Hengistid dynasty's acquiring of the throne.
In 71, Hengist inherited the throne via the fact that he was the husband of the late Cuichelm's one and only daughter. Early on in his reign, he had to solidify his rule against the various pretenders that claimed to be more fit to rule Etrand, and he also had to deal with the fact that even seven decades after King Corlagon has outlawed the worship of the Old Gods, there were still people in Etrand - even among the nobility - that was still loyal to the old ways, having embraced the Titanist fate in the name only, or worse yet, not at all, openly flaunting pagan beliefs.
It was under Hengist's early reign that the remaining pagan sanctuaries were either destroyed or converted into Titanist Churches, harsh laws were set up to punish the worship of the Old Gods, and even harsher laws were enacted to punish those nobles, village mayors and other leaders who failed to enforce these new laws. It was during Hengist's precisely three decades reign that the last of the crypto-Pagan nobles embraced the state religion of Etrand.
In 101, Hengist would pass away to gave way to his eldest son, Hereric, whose first rule lasted only five years, and was full of problems. In 102, the first known Necromancer and his apprentice, the first known Death Knight made their appearances, wreaking having and avoiding getting caught, until they were finally caught and exiled in 104, forming Keldorn. Hereric had a bad relationship with the nobility, who distrusted him - he distrusted them in return. Two years later, with the support of the nobility, Hereric's younger brother, Osric the Usurper would usurp the throne from Hereric, but he would rule for only two years - in 108, Hereric regained the throne.
Hereric's second reign - ranging from 108 to 117 - was somewhat more considerate of the nobles complaints, but he could never truly reconcile with the nobility. His son Sighard the Builder would see a very stable reign from 117 to 145, but Sighard's failure to produce an heir led to the extinction of the Hengistid dynasty - save for the Osriking cadet branch - leading to the election of Swidhelm the Old as the new king after Sighard's death, an event never seen before or again in Etrand.
Early Tondbertid Ambitions
After the death of King Sighard in 145, an event took place that would never ever be repeated in Etrandish history: a new king was elected by the nobility. There were several candidates to the throne, but at the end of the day, Swidhelm the Old was chosen, mainly for two reasons: he had connections to the now-extinct Hengistid dynasty via his marriage to Sighard's niece, and he was also see as a wise and experienced man who has already had his fair share of experience in statesmanship. Not to mention, his lack of lust for power and his overall lack of ambition made the voting nobles see him as a would-be-king who would go on to bring stability to the realm and quell all the conflicts.
Swidhelm ruled as king for only one year, and nearly all of it was spent trying to prevent a civil war from breaking out. After his death, debates about Etrand's form of government heated up again: a strong and shrill minority among the nobility wanted Etrand to become an elective monarchy, while the conformist majority was content with hereditary monarchy. Henceforth, Swidhelm's son, Tondbert the Pious rose to the throne, but a significant portion of the nobility opposed his rule. Tondbert inherited a decadent royal court plagued by intrigue and infighting and it was his job to make order in all that chaos and nonsense.
Just one year into Tondbert's rule, those nobles who wanted elective monarchy rose up in rebellion, only to be put down brutally by Swidhelm, who had all the nobles involved executed, stripped their children from their titles and forced them to become monks and nuns. The rest of Tondbert's rule would bring about improvements in Etrand's economy and laws, as well as slow and gradual expansion into the Southern swamps. Tondbert abdicated in 182, being the only King of Etrand to this date to have abdicated rather than died reigning, his son Aiden inherited the throne, while Tondbert himself died in 194.
Aiden's 38-year rule can be divided in two parts: the first part, roughly between 182 and 195, when Aiden's rule was stable, undisputed, royal authority was high and there was an economic boom (hence Aiden's epithet "the Merchant"). As for the second part: after Tondbert died in 194, the nobility became less willing to follow every order of Aiden, and an anti-king arose: Carolus Brynling. Aiden gradually lost control over much of North-Eastern Etrand, and the war between Aiden and Carolus would descend into a stalemate - while Carolus retained political control over North-Eastern Etrand, Aiden would remain in control over the rest of Etrand, and other than occasional raids, merchants could still travel back and forth between the two parts. During the final stage of Aiden's rule, nearing 210, the conflict between King Aiden and Anti-King Carolus heated up again and the forces of Carolus took control of Copperport.
Aiden's successor Amergin the Milk-Drinker would spend the first half of his 24-year rule regaining total control over Etrand, and would be forced to make concessions to the nobility to gain their support against Carolus and his son Hereric Brynling. The second half of Amergin's rule would be spent repairing the damage this 27-year conflict has caused, restoring trade with the Eastern Empires, among other things.
Amergin's son Andrei the Wise would inherit the throne as a mere child, and his rule would be riddled with disasters such as the Demonic Invasions of Artograch, and the Hulran Invasion of Etrand - however, his 41-year reign also saw the Etrandish conquest of the Kingdom of Hulra, replacing it with the Viceroyalty of Etrancoast.
Middle Tondbertid Golden Age
After King Andrei the Wise died, his second son Cuthbert the Defender became the new King. He was most remembered for his actions of heroism during Etrand's defense against the Hulran invasion during his father's reign - Cuthbert's reign itself is not very remarkable or exciting, as it was spent repairing the damage of the Demonic and Hulran invasions, breathing new life into Etrand, as well as keeping the newly-conquered Etrancoasti down.
This rebuilding however was not very easy - Cuthbert had to make the depopulated land attractive to potential settlers, and the easiest way to do that was to grant land to Yeomen. However, a lot of the depopulated territories nominally belonged to noblemen who did not wish to part with their lands for free - to compensate them, Cuthbert had to give them various concessions, which resulted in the long-term decline of royal authority. One example of such repopulation with Yeomen is the fate of Talon, which was first settled by the Curughi family, which at the time was given quite a bit of land to farm by the King. Temporarily, these rural-first repopulation policies drained quite a bit of the urban population, as people were encouraged to move from cities to farmlands.
Cuthbert's successor Adalmund the Rich, would partially reverse this deurbanization, though it has to be said that Adalmund was not a very active King. Just like many of the future Tondbertid kings, Adalmund relied heavily on his court and advisors, with several big names holding the real power. Nevertheless, under the Adalmund-regime, Etrand's economy once again began blooming, and Adalmund himself lived a very luxurious life, one that some would even call decadent. After Adalmund died, his eccentric son Aethelwine took power, who would temporarily turn Etrand back into an absolute monarchy - at least in name.
De jure, Aethelwine's reign was an absolute monarchy, nominally he was an absolute monarch who had zero tolerance for dissent. De facto, however, his reign was an oligarchy, though he was no puppet - the so-called "absolute monarch" was in reality merely the "first among equals" in a group of oligarchs that ran the country during his 33-year reign from 356 to 389. That group of oligarchs included the closest friends of the King, several of whom were from a merchant background. Aethelwine's friends wrote in their memoirs that he was a kind and generous man who valued his friends over anything, but history would remember him differently, giving the epithet "the Cruel" - outside of his circle of oligarchs who effectively ran the country in his stead, anyone who challenged his nominal authority was dealt with harshly. and there were reports of extortion of the nobility and the peasantry for money. The fact that Aethelwine's economical ministers and mercantile oligarchs were mediocre at economy did little to help either: there was some improvement in the economy, there was an expanding trade with the East, there was urbanization, but the abysmal amount of corruption and embezzlement ensured that very little - if any - of that extra money got to those who actually worked for it.
During the later parts of Aethelwine's reign, he and his oligarchy started gradually losing their grip on power, so they allied themselves with the Church and gave concessions to the Burghers in order to gain an edge against the rebellious nobility.
Aethelwine's somewhat kinder and much less cruel son Bowen the Inquisitor maintained his father's absolutist system via an alliance with the Church, and smart usage of the Inquisition. He would not only ruthlessly suppress Hulran Paganism and heretical branches of Titanism alike, but he would also smear dissent with accusations of having sympathies for heretics. Despite the nominal absolutism under Bowen's reign, with the King nominally having absolute power, it is said that real power was in the hands of the Archbishop of Grandfolk, and some of his fellow Bishops and Inquisitors, which is why Bowen's 32-year reign between 389 and 421 was called "The Reign of Inquisitor Oligarchs". There was quite a bit of economical mismanagement and political scheming in that era.
In defense of Bowen however, it can be said that he - despite his epithet "the Inquisitor" - had a soft spot for scholars and was a known bookworm, patron of writers and poets alike. It was under his reign that the royal library was built to extend the palace, and it was he who commissioned the writing of the Great Encyclopedia.
Then finally, Bowen's son King Boyd the Conciliator had done away with absolutism, made concessions for the nobility, the burghers and the yeomen alike, turning Etrand into a de facto constitutional feudal monarchy. However, not all was well, as in 440, the First Cymbairan War broke out. Even though Etrand won the war, the following Cymbairan Wars would do much damage to Etrand.
Late Tondbertid Decadence
A New Start: the Bryantids
- See also: Etrandish Succession War of 718