200 to 550 AD:
The Age of the Two Empires
The Second Ceiolaian Empire
In 169 AD a general named Zati Shumalo overthrew the Tieri (lord) of the city of Ceiolai and took his place. He had a taste for personal glory that was unusual in this most pious and devout of times. So he roused the population with propaganda bout Ceiolai's ancient Pre-Shufrantei glory and raised an army. Within two years of taking power he had successfully conquered the neighboring state of Varscan.
Upon his triumphant return to Ceiolai, with cheering crowds filling the plazas, he declared that he was restoring the old pre-Shufrantei Ceiolaian Empire-- specifically dubbing his new creation the "Second Empire of Ceiolai," and he submitted himself as a candidate to become its first emperor. His petition went out to the three elements of the city's society: (a) the collage of banda "warriors," which of course included all ranking army officers, (b) the priesthood of the recognized Shufrantei temples, and (c) the people represented by their neighborhood & clan councils and chiefs, All three, in the wake of Zati's surprisingly decisive victory over the army of Varsca, agreed.
So, in 171 an ad hoc assembly of priests In an elaborate open-air coronation ceremony made Zati the "Pacunot"-- a Minidun word we translate into English as "Emperor." Although these Shufrantei priests blessed Zati and proclaimed the propriety of the event with copious references to Shufrantei scripture, the re-creation of this office was a purely Ceiolaian event, with no precedents in Shufrantei law or tradition. The re-creation of the Pacunot greatly appealed to long suppressed Minidun reaction against years of Nacateca rule, and more particularly to dormant Ceiolaian chauvinism. "Pacunot" in Proto-Minidun originally meant something like "holy delegate," referring to non-Shufrantei religious belief. Zati and his family were both devout Shufrantei believers and proud Ceiolaians, and throughout their careers sought to blend ancient imperial glory with their religion.
(In theory a tieri was representative of all the local Banda, all basically equal in stature to one another, and collegial with the priests who administered the rites and protected holy objects, and so in theory the priesthood was independent of the tieri. But the Pacunot was equivalent to the superior office of Naithetieri ("tieri-of-tieris"), created by the Great Prophet himself, with authority over both warriors and priests, and in time the Shumalo's propaganda proclaimed a direct, hence divine, lineage from Ierecina and Meiloproso to themselves.)
Zati organized the largest army of his day, and used it to conquer all the land between Utrezha in the East to Kormun in the West, from Varsca in the North to Baleva in the South. He wrote a new code of laws modeled on both Shufrantei scripture and ancient Ceiolaian Imperial law. He called it the Pacunot-leimon, meaning "Emperor-Given." His regime proselytized and produced propaganda displays like no political leadership had ever attempted. He commanded the energies of many temples and monasteries of several different sects by his subsidies and attentions. He built a great new temple in Ceiolai, opposite the gate of the Tufralan, which was both awesome and delicate.
In the twenty-seven years of his rule, Zati succeeded in creating a stable regime with an aggressive, revolutionary, and idealistic personality. He was Bergonia’s Augustus Caeser
In 198, when he turned sixty, a long suffering illness disabled him. The symptoms described in the Commissioned Memoirs resembled what modern man recognizes as syphilis. Knowing he soon would lose his mind, he resigned from the post and allowed his designated heir to begin ruling. The successor was Clovore, his oldest son. Zati passed away two years later in 200, and all Ceiolai mourned. Clovore made the day of Zati's birth a permanent holiday (27 July, which is still noted every year in modern Ceiolaian media.)
Zati passed away, but he left behind his family name to label a dynasty that would establish and lead a great empire. The family name was Shumalo, and they were of the Preba Clan.
The Conquests of Clovore, Zati's Son
Clovore was twenty-five years old in 198 AD, when he came to rule. Zati founded the empire, but Clovor most certainly built it. During his nineteen year reign he conquered much of central and eastern Bergonia. He established civil government over all his conquests and initiated a huge building program that lasted decades after his passing, producing a fine network of roads, bridges, viaducts and water systems everywhere n Ceiolai's newly enlarged realm.
Clovore Shumalo was absolutely devoted to his father's cause and his father's glory. He honored and praised Zati at every opportunity. Eschewing honors and adulations for himself, he attributed all his stupendous successes to his father's guidance and example, even to the last days of his long illustrious reign. In fact, he was a far more capable a man than his father, renown in his own lifetime not only as a military leader but as an engineer and as a poet. While Zati had developed a reputation as an epicure, and a taste for the trappings of office, Clovore lived simply and modestly, in obedience to the banda ethos. He lived a life of absolute rectitude, engaging in purification rites every morning, and he regularly attended religious retreats.
Tierisai was one of the capital cities founded by Meiprosato in the first glory days of the Subanei expansion, and was still a powerful city, with holy sites that drew pilgrims, ruled by a powerful tieri. (In fact its name meant quite literally "the tieri's city.") Clovore marched his army to within site of its walls and sent a delegation to demand surrender. The tieri killed the delegates and dumped their bodies from the top of the wall. Clovore laid siege to the city, and then sacked it. So angry did he remain from the slight that he destroyed the whole city, save for the holy sites and the temples, and enslaved that part of the population that he didn't kill. This occurred in 207 AD. With the destruction of Tierisai, the largest city in central Bergonia, Clovore was able to subjugate a wide area.
He also conquered the central third of the Amota region to the east, absorbing many large, old cities and much agricultural and mineral wealth, and extending Ceiolai's rule to the sea in the east. The people of the Amota had for centuries lived under the Kuan emperors and then under the rulers of the First Ceiolaian Empire, so by traditional temperament they were accepting of their new rulers.
But the Nacateca peoples in the central Ifuno region were differently disposed, remaining restive, and late in Clovore's reign they revolted. His generals had trouble moving the armies necessary to subjugate the rebels, and their complaints to him prompted his massive road-building undertaking. The Ceiolaian armies concluded the revolts with bloody determination, but soon again Nacateca rebels sprang forth during a trip that Clovor made to the area. Clovor took personal command of the campaign, and one unlucky day rebels surrounded his force. An arrow pierced his chest and laid him low. He hung on to life for seven days before he succumbed to fever. This honorable warrior's death occurred in 217, the nineteenth year of his reign, and afterwards Clovere was massively adulated in Ceiolai and elsewhere as the great man that he was. He stands as tall a figure in Bergonian history as Augustus Caesar or Marcus Arelius does in European history.
Clovore's descendants went on to conquer the better part of eastern and central Bergonia, establishing a well-ordered prosperous empire.
Rise of the Empire of Necrurue
The sacking and destruction of the holy city of Tierisai had offended a great number of the banda in the west. Clovore's conquests now alarmed and frightened them. The founders of Necrurue exploited fear of Ceiolaian advances. Their propaganda constantly brought up the destruction of Tierisai. Their propaganda constantly charged the Ceiolaians with evil designs on the holy city of Ancitaselticoi, the city founded by the Great Prophet himself. They proclaimed, "Without Necrurue, Ceiolai will destroy Ancitaselticoi the way they destroyed Teirisai, and then they will continue onward to Iutafaca (the third holy city) and destroy it too."
In its inception "Necrurue" was a defense alliance of tieris and warriors, but very quickly all the participants grew enamored with the idea of resurrecting the old holy office of naithatieri. This would be their true universal sovereign in the Ancita heartland in opposition to the heretical Ceiolaian. One tieri jumped forward with his own military campaign, and he attracted enough support that the majority of participants willingly acquiesced in his taking power. "Necrurue" sort of meant "the Agreed-Upon-Leader," but quickly became the name of the entire government, regime and land.
The new emperor located his capital in Ancitaselticoi, and his armies went out in all directions. By 230 AD his armies met the armies of Ceiolai. War was not immediate, while the two sides quickly consolidated positions facing one another, and a de facto border quickly developed. It was something of an article of faith among the Necrurueans (say it slowly) that evil Ceiolaian aggression and righteous defensive warfare were inevitable, but the Ceiolaian once they appeared in the flesh were far more cautious, and did not attack. The disappointment prompted the Necrurueans to pick fights unwisely, and soon enough, in 237 AD, they got their war. Soon enough they wish they hadn't-- the Ceiolaians crushed their armies at every turn and the very next year the Necrurueans were evacuating Ancitaselticoi and fleeing westward.
Now the Ceiolaians triumphantly marched into Ancitaselticoi. Again they frustrated all the expectations by treating the citizens well and leaving the city and the holy sites intact. The emperor and all his kinsmen of House Shumalo traveled in a big procession from Ceiolai westward across the plateau to visit Ancitaselticoi. Several centuries before, the Ancita warriors had come from this place eastward to subjugate the First Ceiolaian Empire, and now the roles were reversed. But Ceiolaian magnanimity was so great, that in the subsequent peace negotiations the Ceiolaians gave Ancitaselticoi back to Necrurue -- in exchange for a huge indemnity and a permanent peace. In effect the two empires divided the world between them (albeit unevenly), but the lasting implication was that in their crucial confrontation the Ceiolaians had shamed the Necurueans and proved themselves the better.
Iron and Armies
During this time metallurgists learned how to get their fires hotter so they could forge iron. Many of Ceiolai's battlefield victories were conspicuously easy, especially because Ceiolai's army was the first that issued iron swords to all its soldiers. The iron blades devastated armies armed with bronze. The Necruruean rushed into iron production, like a modern-day arms race, and soon they too had the advantage, enabling them to meet the initial Ceiolaian advance. Afterwards the two empires enjoyed a rough parity on the field that helped keep the peace.
The two empires also had a vast advantage on the field by virtue of their unprecedented degree of military organization. Years before, "banda" meant individual warrior. Now it meant "officer" in a tightly organized, standardized army. The soldiers wore uniforms, rank insignia, standard issue swords, spears, packs and tools. They marched in drills and practiced skills. The two armies had organization equivalent to Roman and Napoleonic armies. The Ceiolaian army command even issued a long, tedious "Manual" for use by the officer corps-- it regulated everything from the placement of encampments, the routines for marching, recipes for mess, and battlefield tactics, to discipline and the chain of command.
The Long Peace of the Two Empires
After their war, Ceiolai and Necrurue shared a long frontier together, and kept a peace that lasted to their mutual benefit for over 300 years. These were years of stable growth. The emperors built roads, temples, monasteries, cities and palaces. The peace and the network of brick roads allowed the first island-wide trade. Design followed clean, austere lines. Painting reached a high state of realism. Beautiful ceramics were produced. Production of plate glass began, and production of blown glass excelled. Shufrantei temples stood at the center of every city and town, and monasteries dotted the countryside for the training of tousands of priests and priestesses. The temples and monasteries ran schools, as did the large banda clan lodges. The upper classes became totally literate, and enjoyed poetry and drama.
The Two Empires, the great unifiers of nations, of peoples and of the Faith, were great accomplishments of social order and prosperity. The roads were of a common design, all with stations and caravan overnight parks and taverns. The Police were uniform and applied a single set of statutes. The cities were crowded and bustled with prosperity. The two armies tended to treated all the conquered people well and according to law. A policy of integration of all conquered people worked so well that several nations actually volunteered to joint one or the other of the two empires to acquire the benefits.
The apex of all Imperial authority was, of course, the Emperor. In theory he derived his authority from Arcan. He was a descendant of Zati Shumalo, chosen by the laws of succession ordained by Zati and engraved on golden tablets and placed in the Temple of the Radiant Green, located within the Tufralan. To the Ceiolaians, the Emperor was a successor of the Naithitieri. He was also a successor to the Imperial Regime of the First Empire.
The Emperor of Ceiolai was recognized by the stigmata of office. A coronation consisted chiefly of the transfer of these items by the hands of the Abbot of the Temple of the Radiant Green. These were three in number. First was the Golden Staff; a staff was the common sign of authority in Bergonia. Second was the Golden Globe, a signet of Arcan's authority. Finally was the ruby-studded golden cup, from which the Emperor drank purified water on high holy days.
The emperors of Necrurue coexisted with a council of priests, a "warrior assembly" and a senate consisting of representatives of the two. These were the institutions that "agreed upon the leader," at least ceremonially, and reflected the origins of "Necrurue" as a voluntary defense pact. Therefore the emperors of Necrurue suffered some institutional restraints on their prerogatives, while the emperors of Ceiolai were absolute rulers, subject only to self-imposed restraints like Imperial "Law" and Shufrantei morality.
Laws of tradition bound the Emperor. The religious scriptures of the Prophet prescribed some of these laws. Zati set forth other laws, with written edicts, such as the Law of Succession, or by prior example. Otherwise the emperor was bound by no other authority and his word was final. The Emperor was, therefore, an absolute dictatorship.
The Emperors appointed many officials whose duties were set as much by traditional law as by edict. These appointed officials made the great mass of decisions, and the Emperor generally exercised his power in either an appellate fashion or by way of veto, and usually in response to a specific request by a nobleman or one of the appointed officials. Most laws were promulgated by the appointed officials, and only occasionally did the Emperor pass down his own edicts.