THE GRAND EMPIRE OF KRATH

LOCATION - DESCRIPTION - PEOPLE - ORGANIZATION
GOVERNMENT - POLITICS - ECONOMY - PRODUCTION - MILITARY

The Grand Empire of Krath was one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations in Nybelmar. As early as the 33rd century b.S. it was already the predominant authority on the continent’s western half. The Krathrians’ moment of glory in late 19th century b.S. epitomized the heights of human creativity, might, and artistry. At the pinnacle of its expansion in the 18th century b.S., it included the Peninsula of Shár, the Plains of Zhun, the Zhunith Desert, and parts of Banderran territory. The Empire of Krath is also often referred to as the "Grand Empire of Earth" or in variations the "Great/Grand Krathrian Empire", "Grand Krath" or the "Krath Empire".

Evania Laquette Gratianethea Asáén

View picture in full size  Picture description. Evania Asáén, at the tomb of her recently deceased father, one of the most influential Krean merchants of the era. Picture drawn by Linda Tso.

The Grand Empire was an utter conglomeration of tribes, most of which were conquered by the Krathaszhar in their momentous history of war and conquest. The only exceptions to this were the Krean (who voluntarily joined the Empire and retained an autonomous status under Krath) and the Orihirim (who were - at best - loosely autonomous considering no one knew about their exact location). Before Emperor Asaen’s reign ethnic margins were still quite apparent.

Through its all-embracing trade web, the Empire's influence reached even the continent’s most secluded coasts. Krath culture, roughly three thousand years after its fall, permeates some western states even today. The subtle reverberations of its former power can still be felt in the great city-states of the Zhunite Plains.

Location. The Grand Empire of Earth occupied the south-western quarter of Nybelmar. It reached from the Mountains of Maneth in the south to the Isser River to the northwest, stretching diagonally northeast from there all the way up to the River Rissernus. Krath had its northernmost border with the mountainous regions east of the Inner Sea of Nybelmar. In the northeast, the River Rissernus and a great line of fortifications extending to the Benderrath Ranges separated the Empire from the Chyrakisth orcs and the various nomadic tribes living in the Vaenath Steppes. Through the vassal state of Benderrath, Krath territory made contact with the insurmountable Zharkanions in the east. Officially, the south-eastern border was the Kingdom of Anis-Anpagan, but if truth be told it was nothing more than a scorching desert both kingdoms declared their own yet never had mastery over. The huge block of mountains north of the southernmost Peninsula of Shár and the ranges in northern Zhun, known jointly as “the Forefinger of Earth/Krath” as well as the eastern banks of the meandering Iser split imperial territory from Orcal. The Iser River further screened the Empire from the strange kingdoms of the Nermarem Plains. Return to the top

Description. The Grand Kingdom of Krath comprised the following locations:

People. Abstract. The Grand Empire was an utter conglomeration of tribes, most of which were conquered by the Krathaszhar in their long and momentous history of war and conquest. The only exceptions to this were the Krean (who voluntarily joined the Earth League and retained an autonomous status under Krath) and the Orihirim (who were at best loosely autonomous considering no-one knew the exact location of their country). Except in the truly ‘imperial’ metropolises, ethnic margins were still quite apparent before Grand-Karoth Dearan Asaen’s reign. The great emperor sought to strengthen the fusion between the populace; through rigorous intermarriage and merged settlement policies he significantly altered the demograhical landscape.

People Synopsis

1. The Krathaszar 5. The Qualaris
2. The Krean 6. The Evalaris
3. The Zhunite 7. The Sharosar
4. The Orihirim 8. The Viaquis

Organization. The Krath Kingdom rested upon the principle of the absolute authority of the monarch. The key function of the Karoth (the Krath Emperor) was to grant justice in the land. The autocracy of the Karoth hinged on his personal commitment to justice. The justice represented by the Krathrian ruler was a distributive justice, concerned more in fairness and just allocation of public resources than justice in a particular instant. It was his duty to personally shelter his people from the excesses of government and local officials. For the Krathrians it flowed from here that a Karoth could only achieve parity and justice in the state if he had absolute power. For if he was not an absolute ruler on his own, he would be reliant on other power levers (hence subject to their whims and corruption). The Krath’amar, then, viewed absolute authority, or autocracy, as being in service of building a just administration rather than elevating the Karoth above the law.

Grand Krath had a ruling class comprised of court officials, military officers, trade representatives, and priestesses. Wealth and rank wasn’t something one automatically inherited, rather they had to be earned. Positions in the ruling class (even nobility) were perceived as titles at the mercy of the Grand-Karoth.

Townspeople, villagers and farmers constituted the lower class. This segregation did not depend on one’s religion; basically all who were not part of the ruling class belonged to the class of ordinary citizens. Military service was a key to advancement in the hierarchy. Return to the top

Government. Note: The traditional structure of Imperial government and courts is described below. This entry does not account for the tremendous changes fathered by Emperor Dearan Salador Asaen. Neither does this entry specify the fundamental transformation in the empire’s construction known as the Asaen Reforms (aka the Dearan Revolution). We believe these indicate a structure so drastically different than what is characteristically Krathrian that they could not satisfactorily be explained in an entry that deals mainly with the Classical Age of the Grand Krath Empire.

Abstract. Theoretically the Grand Karoth was the state: He possessed absolute power and was believed to be involved in every decision of the government. The administration of the Grand Empire of Krath revolved around its Grand-Karoth (the Emperor) and an established bureaucracy drawn from his inner circles. This officialdom in turn controlled local governments. Thus, in reality the Empire was run by a vast bureaucracy, which was controlled by an unbending and sophisticated code. Appointments to government positions were not arbitrary; although they followed strict rules, the last word on any post was still the Karoth’s.

Government Synopsis

1. The Grand-Karoth 5. Political Elite
2. The Grand Vizier 6. Economic Elite
3. Administrative Elite 7. Religious Elite
4. Military Elite  

Politics. The politics of the Empire were shaped in a triangle around the Grand-Karoth. At the edges of this triangle were the court bureaucrats, who had the support of fief-holders; the High Temple of Ankriss, the “Voice of the Krean” in the Empire; and the military, who, as is the case with most armed men, was for the most part accountable only to itself.

In order to hold its ground against the other two players, the palace bureaucracy had to please the land-“owners”, often fighting for their rights or intervening in the courts on their behalf, which wasn’t all too difficult to imagine considering these were the largest fief-holders themselves.

The Viaquis mage Viltir

View picture in full size  Picture description. The Viaquis mage Viltir watching the sun set over southwestern Nybelmar, with blue snares and his pet capou winged monkeys. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

In addition to the fact that the crushing majority of the Temple comprised of female Lillivear priestesses, the religious vertex had much to lose by frustrating the Twin Kingdom (the Krean realm). Although the High Temple of Ankriss was the second largest landowner (term properly used this time) after the imperial family – mostly through the charities they ran and the private territories bequeathed on them every time a controversial government decision needed the Goddess’ sanction, their resources were not inexhaustible. The prosperous Krean country was its chief benefactor and in order to survive in a male dominated world and neutralize the conspiracies against them, they needed all the funds they could get.

The High Temple could be a powerful ally and an arch force to be reckoned with, one not even the military wanted to confront squarely in the face. To begin with, they had the fief-holders on a tight leash, and thus the bureaucrats. Krath probably kept extremely detailed accounts of its fiefs and all the production going on in the Empire. In order to guarantee parity in the reports and prevent corruption, the officials in charge of these land-registers were not given any land to farm but instead received their salary in cash. As both Krean, whom Krath did not lease imperial land to work, and female, whom the Krathaszar did not regard capable of managing estates anyway, the priestesses were the ideal candidates for monitoring the commerce and production. And since the Empire already depended on the magic of the priestesses to promote growth cycles, enhance cultivation and heal diseased plants, these Observers would not look out of place, working along with their Grower sisters in the fields. To make sure that the Growers put all their hearts to the work, they received remuneration as a fraction of the net profit of the fiefs they supported. For the fiefs whose profits were directly transferred to the treasury, Krath also had Overseers from the High Temple to supervise and ensure efficiency in the production. Hence one usually found the High Priestess siding with the Emperor (or the other way around to be more truthful). In return for his protection and continued generosity, the Temple would make sure that his bureaucrats would not turn on him – at least not without dire financial consequences.

The military, other than using itself as leverage by threats of alliance with one of the sides, principally supported contenders to the throne. There were two reasons for this: The imbursement made to the elite forces at every coronation being the first and by far the most common and the unfortunate fact that the presiding emperor needed to buy off the attack to save himself. This untrustworthiness of the military might have been the motive behind composing the main body of the army from soldiers raised by fief-holders, levelling the possible treachery of one against the other. The unreliability of the army was also a contributing factor to the alliances between the Grand-Karoths and the High Priestess, the High Temple providing priestesses to secure the palace when the Emperor’s army turned against himself.

Another key point to appreciate is that the competence of a Karoth was measured by his personal commitment to justice, amount of gold in the treasury and the land conquered in his reign. That might help explain the seemingly illogical ascension of an utterly incompetent emperor every few hundred years followed by that of a highly aggressive Karoth; to avert disillusionment in the populace every time Krath approached its natural boundaries land had to be lost and a scapegoat made so the territories could be re-conquered and the glory of the reign “re-claimed”. Excluding the Asaen Era constant expansion was a requisite for the smooth running of the system. Not only did the people need to be continually reminded of the majesty of their emperor, but new fiefs had to be opened to accommodate the ever-increasing population of the peninsula. Return to the top

Economy. The economic system depended on production, agriculture and husbandry forming the heart of Krath economy. Naturally, the system revolved around the administration of land. It would be a mistake to describe the Krathrian structure as feudal: Though the allotment of land vaguely resembled a feudal organization, the Krath system supported a number of resourceful differences, one of which was the unique tax system. At the risk of oversimplification: Although the ownership (‘property rights’) of the land belonged to the state, it was ‘leased’ out to the populace to farm. The management of these small holdings was of course subject to several regulations. For instance, if someone left their territory untended for three years in a row, either the land was taken back or he was put through severe monetary punishment. State officers instead of receiving wages were given arable fields (in proportion to their rank) to work and make profit from. Similarly, the government, instead of taxing its officials, asked them to raise one rider (and his family) for every set proportion of the revenue they earned from that plot of land. The state also owned its own arable territories whose income was directly transferred to the treasury. Throughout the Empire’s long history, trade remained an indispensable sector. In relation to agricultural products Krath was a self-sufficient country. Return to the top

Production. As Krath was primarily an agricultural society, due weight must be given to the procedures of land administration; the original and vastly efficient system merits some detail in its explanation:

If one is to engage in a broad and sweeping generalization and persist in identifying the Empire as a feudal society, the first thing one must note is that fiefs were ‘rented out’ upon condition of military service. Since the state alone held the property rights of the land, it is no surprise that the land-based aristocracy so characteristic of feudal systems never existed in Grand Krath. Perhaps due to this absence of an unregimented nobility and individual ownership, many of the traditional flaws and failings of feudality were avoided: Farming was not seen as the occupation of an inferior class, villagers were not subject to degrading and erratic treatment, although the Karoth’s word was law the citizens knew the general borders of their rights, and taxing did not operate on a cruel and whimsical basis but was subject to rational rules and regulations.

Although in excess of 25 types were recorded during the 19th century b.S., for the purposes of this overview it would be safe to classify the land into three main categories: Private, state-owned and foundation territory:

Military. As the entire system of Grand Krath depended on constant expansion to sustain itself, the military was at the forefronts of the imperial landscape. Extending the line of reasoning, is it any wonder that the Krath Empire had one of the strongest land-armies on Nybelmar before the Year of Darkness?

To give a very broad-spectrum impression of the martial structure: Grand Krath had a full time army of paid, professional soldiers virtually since it entered the stage of Nybelmarian history, but the main bulk of its military force (especially its light cavalry and heavy infantry) came from its fiefs (see the Agricultural System under Production for a general idea, and consult the Military section for particulars).

The Qualaris architect Renatus Ambroleschi

View picture in full size  Picture description. The Qualaris architect Renatus Venseslao Vitalis dhil Arke-Akirask Ambroleschi, overseeing the construction of one of the Inner Sea cities for Emperor Dearan. Asaen Picture drawn by Quellion.

Although a very successful initiative for a potent naval force was inaugurated in Grand-Karoth Dearan’s reign, the lead was not pursued by his successors. Expanding on what we can tell from the sketches in the possession of the Anpagan Dominion, the legendary emperor had an armada of unique Krathrian design. The fleet was exclusively tailored to suit to the needs of the Empire: the main body of the navy comprised of heavily armoured transports for the land forces and sleeker vessels which could swiftly glide between enemy ships to take as many down as possible before their forces disembarked). Historians now believe that this magnificient armada was left to decay in the ignorance of battling Zhunite city-states after the empire collapsed.

Very odd for an earth-based empire, the first and as far as we know the only aerial forces in Nybelmar were created in the same period [9]. As could be expected, his successors did not share the same keenness for an airborne army. Approaching the subject with the deep-rooted prejudice and suspicion towards anything to do with the skies, the later Karoths abandoned his long-term plans of raising aerial scout, archer and siege units to give Krath the upper-hand in scenarios ppreviously thought unviable. But out of their profound respect for his person (and a widespread superstition that the Emperor would return from the dead to put the gravest curse in history upon whatever short-sighted creature destroyed his invention) none of the successors could wholly disband the troops. In the end the once great innovation was reduced to a parody, used only to bring the emperors refreshments over the battlefield. Return to the top

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Footnotes.
[1] Could this be why perhaps the Krean called it the “Orchard of Pomegranates”? A legendary Krath emperor, Dearan Salador Asaen, had once claimed that “No man, however he be blessed with vigour or time, may ever record or appreciate the glorious beauty of this Garden in its full splendour” (his challenge causing of course a surge of scholars from the eastern nations). [Back]

[2] Emperor Dearan Salador Asaen’s one failed attempt was to permanently move the beating heart of the Empire to Nybelmarasa, which very nearly cost him (quite more than) his life. Quite an anomaly resulted in the autumn of his reign: the formal capitol back in the rainforests while the Empire was ruled in every aspect from an unofficial capitol in where he called the “true and open heart” of the Krath lands. [Back]

[3] Lit. “Courtyard of Nybelmar”, from "Nybelmar" and “Arásá” ("courtyard" in Krath’melarian). When this vast territory was first conquered, the Krathrians referred to the feral plains as “Krath-Armasa”, the “backyard of Krath”. In time it became known as “Krath-Arasa”, “the Courtyard of Krath”. The change to the audacious “Nybelmarasa” is attributed to Emperor Asaen, signifying the importance he placed in the area. The word "Nybelmar" itself means “Land of Glory” in ancient Krean from the roots “Nybel” ("landmass" or "continent") and “Mar” ("glory"). Since “Nybel” (or the more formal “Nybelath”) is also a synonym for "splendour", “Nybelmarasa” can also be translated as “The Courtyard of Glory”. [Back]

[4] Sometimes also called “the Boulevards of Nybelmarasa” or more expressively, “Boulevards of the Courtyard of Nybelmar”. [Back]

[5] Grand-Karoth Dearan, despite being a Krean (who were traditionally contemptuous of the ruling tribe), was possibly the emperor the Krathaszar in their long history favoured (and supported) most – notwithstanding his world-shattering innovations and radically unorthodox character. He devoted an entire life to building strong ties of citizenship and understanding (not tolerance) between the many tribes of the Empire with a specific vision of bringing the Krathaszar and the Zhunites to their deserved place of respect. [Back]

[6] He was the only outsider ever allowed into their mysterious realm in the six thousand years of history. [Back]

[7]
Some fanciful historians have even speculated that the White Advisors might actually have been the same person as there seemed to be something very similar in the way each moved and spoke. However the Compendium would like to dismiss these far-fetched theories, asserting once again the need to separate myth from knowledge empirically ascertainable. Indeed there seems to be something quite suspicious in the fact that the White Advisors have all been very consistent in disappearing as breath into the wind after the funeral of the Karoth they had watched over for so many years until the next coronation. We as rational Santharian scholars, led not by a religious hangover but the light of logic, would like to suggest that the Orihirim White Advisor, whoever he (she?) might be, makes great and careful use of this chaotic interlude to change with his successor. [Back]

[8] Surely these can be nothing more than the work of a fanciful imagination spirited by the excitement of being in the presence of Nybelmar’s strongest persona (refers to the Grand-Karoth of the Great Empire of Earth not his fantasized Vizier of Light). [Back]

[9] Initially, Emperor Asaen, then the Lord Appraiser of Zhun, had only finding a faster and more secure means of communication between the separated regions of the Empire in his contemplation. It was a general in his army, Lord Celeres, (also rumoured to be a loyal confidant of the Grand-Karoth) who suggested that flying creatures could also be trained as military units. The Grand-Karoth immediately saw the prodigious value of aerial units: Although grudgingly, he had to admit that Krath would never beat a nation with such a deep-seated naval heritage like Anis-Anpagan as a sea-power. Instead Grand-Karoth Asaen shifted the playing ground when realized he could not win by the rules. [Back]

 Date of last edit 2nd Changing Winds 1666 a.S.

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