Bergonian History:

1027 to 1050 AD

 The Revolutionary Career of 


Note:  At this point in Bergonian history the majority of people were village-bound peasants who worked the land for a landed gentry, the iregemi, who enjoyed luxurious manor houses.  In the part of Bergonia (now in the states of Letlari, Lampanira & Sefaieri) where Churoflia lived, the peasants grew maize, wheat, a variety of beans, and squash, with many hardscrabble villages of sheep & goat herders.  The small states were typically ruled by dictator-princes called tieri, who depended upon taxes collected from the landed gentry, the various town governments, and also from road and gate tolls.

Churoflia: thin wide mouthChuroflia Parei  ("Choo-roh'-flee-ah  Pah'ray") was born in 996 AD, the son of Pranifula Parei, a powerful iregemi lord in the small state of Parterina, on the southern edge of the Ifuno plateau.  This is rough country, with the plateau table broken up by escarpments, sharp descents into networks of rocky hills, and ravines.  The wooded ravines opened into winding lowland valleys.  Just to the east of Parterina was the verdant valley of Letlari, the Land of the Marshy Lakes.  Parterina was essentially a city-state-- consisting of the town of Seclalai and its dependent network of peasant & herding villages  

The tieri of Parterna opposed Pranifula, Churoflia's ambitious father.  Pranifula plotted a campaign to establish a senate of nobles to counter the tieri.   The tieri put up an esteemed army officer to stab Pranifula at his own birthday party.  

Churoflia could have submitted to the tieri and lived, but he and his supporters fled into the countryside and formed an armed band.  At the time he was only 31 years old.  He robbed caravans on the roads not only in Parterina but in neighboring states.  At first he operated like a highwayman, but in time his Robin Hood style heroics attracted recruits.  He raised a peasant army and fought the armies of Parterina and three other states.  He first conquered the neighboring state of Purasai, to the west, and then Parterina itself.  He killed the tieri by personally twisting a dagger up under the man's ribs, thus avenging his father.  He sent a team of his best gudazhes (ninja-type commando-spy-assassin-warriors) after the officer who killed his father.  They chased him through the streets of Seclalai, with people watching.  The officer's fear drove him hard, and he ran out of the city and far into the countryside.  The gudazhes caught up with him in the high corn and killed him.  This was in the summer of 1027.

Merging both states together, Churoflia created the "Reign of the Four Sparrows," and imposed a drastic revolution at the point of a sword.  He unleashed the peasants on the iregemi.  The peasants attacked and sacked the iregemi manor houses.  An iregemi was lucky if he escaped with his life and family.  Churoflia liberated the peasants from domination by the iregemi, and reduced the grain tax from one-third to one-fifth.  He created a "New Class' to replace the old iregemi-based nobility, consisting of men he recruited from his soldiers, the scribes, the artisans, the traders and the educated peasants.  The New Class replaced the Iregemi in controlling the land, but they gave the peasants a much fairer deal.  The New Class would buy the peasants' grain, rather than seizing it as did the Iregemi.  The New Class filled all the government posts: magistrates and tribunes, tax collectors, and public works supervisors.

Churoflia and his confederates governed from the streets.  They put a long table in the street of Seclalai, and there Churoflia sat and met with the common people.  Sitting in public he discussed policy with his ministers and lieutenants in public, not minding the audience.  Churoflia often called forth food and drink to his table and hosted a few of the townspeople, while others stood around and serenaded him.  A few of the people he had brought down, now dispossessed and alienated, made attempts on his life in the street, but Churoflia amazed everyone by laughing them off and sending them away, rather than having them arrested and executed.   

He created a special class of magistrates he called "Woodpeckers" to root out class enemies and opponents of the regime.  Many of the Iregemi he overthrew had fled, and now they united to oppose him with armed rebellion.  They launched a guerilla war.  Churoflia reacted with a "Wind of Eyes," a network of spies.  They and the Woodpeckers started a wave of arrests and persecutions, aimed at the old Iregemi and loyalists to the old regime.  He built a great prison called Nielafora on the banks of one of the Letlari Lakes, where he put 3,000 prisoners to work building a new city.

He kept his armies in motion, and soon conquered all the cities in what is now Letlari and northeast Lampanira.  In 1032 he attacked the very large state of Pusuraino to the north.  He defeated the Pusuraino army handily and marched deep into their territory.  But in a second battle he was captured.  The Pusaraino soldiers hauled him to the fort in the town of Pache in chains, covered with spittle.  They said to him, "Bow your head," and he refused.  They whipped him and put bloody marks on him, and he still refused to bow.  The lieutenant said, "We'll force a little humility on him," and his men hung a millstone around Churoflia's neck.  Churoflia had to walk with this weight-- only in this way could his enemies bend him.  They threw him into a dungeon in Pache.  But some of the guards and servants-- men of peasant origin-- secretly loved him for what he had done with the "New Class," and they allowed him to escape to the kitchen.  There he hid in the garbage, and went out with the servants who emptied the trash.  Peasants who had come into the city for market were glad to escort him on the way back out, and they dressed him as a woman in mourning, covered with white robes, head cover and veil.  He wore the scars of the whipping for many years. 

After his return he periodically waged war against Pusuraino, while he built up his regime with great energy.  He built an excellent series of roads.  Under his regime everyone reported to someone else.  Yet the peasants grew rich, and morale was high everywhere.  Finally in 1043 he utterly vanquished the army of Pusuraino and tripled the size of his realm. 

On the estate in southwest Parterina, where his father was born he built a massive tomb to house his father's ashes.  It took four years to build.   The many slaves captured from wars and persecutions provided the labor.  A large dome of pink marble capped the tomb.  It was designed to double as a large temple for occasional worship.   He called it Filial Court, and moved his family’s bones there.  The tomb-temple and the palace stand to this day as two of the finest examples of medieval Bergonian architecture. Domes were new to Bergonians, and this was one of the finest of the time.  

In 1050, when he was 54 years old, Churoflia was assassinated, like so many conquerors before him (see Prakai Eleusi).   Early one morning the servants found him lying amidst the passionflowers in his private garden, stabbed to death.   The assassin had plunged the dagger into his solar plexus and had then pulled up, opening him up as if he were a deer.  The murder occurred at night when he had no servants with him.  He had retired late that night.  He spent many hours in the garden either with his confidants and relatives or by himself.  No one could reach the garden except by entering from Churoflia's apartment through one of three doors, by scaling a high wall from the outside which guards patrolled heavily, or by climbing to the palace roof from the other side of the palace and then dropping down into the garden.  The murderer was never identified, and remains an intriguing mystery to this day.

Churoflia's son, Iparia, succeeded him and laid his ashes in the tomb at Filial Court.  Iparia had his own ideas.  Within a generation the "New Class" had turned into Iregemi, and the peasants returned to their former sorry state.  The "New Class" were very interested in trade and manufacturing, unlike the old Iregemi who were content to live off the peasantry and the land.  The revolution gradually ended.

In many ways Churoflia behaved monstrously.  Even his supporters often found themselves disagreeing with his excesses.  He had a streak of madness that perverted an otherwise brilliant and original personality.  People all over Bergonia admired his élan, his revolutionary moves.  He inspired peasants and the underclass everywhere.  It seemed that the further one got away from the territory under his actual control, the more likely that his admirers professed ignorance of his abuses or else defended them.   

Churoflia focused the attention of people everywhere on the problems of social class and dictatorship.  He had no theory, no intellectual conception of what he wanted or why.  Instead he invented his revolution as he went along, responding as much to the needs of expediency rather than to any core set of values.  At heart he was half bandit and all megalomaniac.  Nevertheless, he identified deeply and sincerely with the poor and did much to better their lives.  His career insured that men and women would forcefully debate the questions of class and power.

Churolfia's name in Imonana



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