Oh and the Bosporan republic is just distilled win. Enjoy it!
Oh and the Bosporan republic is just distilled win. Enjoy it!
Damn! Its gonna be that good!
Faugh a ballagh!
"A mans got to know his limitations" -Dirty Harry
"Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true" -Homer Simpson
Is that Trebzond or Crimea? Either way I'd be interested in seeing more of it.
I'm very impressed with the maps. What are you using to make them?
Exile in the East - a Helleno-Varangian CK AAR (Part 28 posted 03 January 2012)
AARland Choice AwAARds - CK historybook winner Q3 & Q4 2011
Showcased 09-Sep-2011, Character writer of the week 28-Mar-2011
Fan of the Week 07-Feb-2011 & 03-Jul-2011
DAO mod's blank maps , open them up on Paint.net (or sometimes the antique Paintshop pro 5 I have, since Paint.net sometimes does weird things with the flood tool) paint (flood tool) the provinces belonging to each nation in their colour, paint over inter-province (in the same country) borders, leaving a only black borders between nations, then I apply (paste into new layer) a texture (google 'old map', it's something like the third image) then go to 'layer properties' under 'layers', and choose 'colour burn', keeping max opacity. Those are all my 'secrets'
I've lately been experimenting (in maps that are not here yet) with fading borders, for tribal countries nordering unclaimed provinces. The idea being that there wasn't a fixed border in these frontier territories. See here, for an example. I'm flirting with the idea of removing black country borders completely, but I ain't sure. Gonna try it later.
The State of the World - 1500
- The Central Asian Steppes and India -
India and Iran.
Across the Indus river, crossed so defiantly by Alexander the Great eighteen thousand years ago, stands India. Just like it did to the Greeks, India has taken her invaders' cultures and customs, made them its own and absorbed its former masters: Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Muslims... Every time India has swallowed its would-be masters, while remaining distinctively unique among the lands that surround her. However, both this cultural exchange and the sheer size of the country have made very heterogenous, and little unites the Indian peoples besides religion.
The chief dieties of Hinduism are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
Hinduism, a complex - as much as the country of its origin - religion based around the literary tradition of the Vedas and other philosophical currents established by later thinkers, shapes all of society, even more so after the zeal that has accompanied the expulsion of all Muslim sultanates to beyond the Indus - although there still are significant muslim communities, primarily on the rich western port cities that stem from Gujarat to Cape Comorin. Society is segregated into four varnas, four castes. The Brahmin (priests) and the Kshatriya (warriors) comprise the nobility and run most of the state machinery, closely followed by the Vayshias (merchants) and below these, the Shudras (labourers). While this rigid system has allowed a certain degree of specialization among the castes - who have many sub-castes between them - they complicate even more the superb, yet intricate fabric that makes up India and its peoples.
Indian spices, especially pepper, and the difficulty of acquiring them at reasonable prices from Muslim traders were at the heart of European forays to the Indian Ocean.
Famous for their bounty of products of the highest luxury and refinement, the lands of India - together with China - form an all-import stopping point in the global trade scheme, feeding Europe with luxury products through the wellworn tracks and seas of Asia. Trade irrigates India like blood does the body, and the rulers of India know this well.
The symbol of Vijayanagara.
Undoubtedly encopassing the majority of the Indian subcontinent is the Empire of Vijayanagara, the City of Victory. Having absorbed the Deccani Sultanate, Ceylon, Orissa and many other states, the City has proved its name countless times on the battlefield, and lies as the hegemon of India. Holding some of the most fertile and rich lands in India, the Empire now seeks to conquer the remaining states to the North and restore to its Maharaja the seat that once belonged to Bharat, that of ruler of all India.
However, despite its huge resources, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and able leadership, it will find great resistance in the other Indian states, who have banded as loose coalition under the even looser kingdom of Rajputana. Legendary warriors, the Rajputs will fight to the death to prevent their absorpion into a -as far as they're concerned - foreign power. While Vijayanagara blossomed in its corner of India playing its enemies against each other, she now faces a united front - one that enjoys the Caliphate's blessing - that will fight all over India: the plains of Gujarat, the desert of the Thar in Rajputana, the mountains of Nepal and the marshes and swamps of Bengal.
A Rajput warrior. The Rajputani warrior tradition dates back centuries, and its prestige is immense.
The only other power worthy of note - hence their leadership of the anti-Vijayanagara coalition - is Rajputana. Hardened and skilled warriors, raised on the fringes of the unforgiving Thar desert, the tribes and princedoms of the land have been integrated into the former kingdom of Jaipur, mostly as a defence towards the encroaching power from the south. If this unity can hold, the Rajputs, under a single banner, a single monarchy, will truly be a force to reckon. However, this depends on success on the battlefield as well as the acumen of its present rulers. Attempts to centralize authority during war-time may be difficult, but if the Rajput chieftans would barely accept it now, they would do so never after the external threat of Vijayanagara has - if it will - receded. If they can suceed however... India will be a playground for the unstoppable Rajputs.
However, among the lesser states - Nepal, Punjab, even the Muslims of Kandahar and Baluchistan - whispers run that a new threat may yet arise from the rapidly growing Chagatai Khanate to the North.
The Steppes of Central Asia
Formed out of the inheritance of Genghis Khan's second son, Chagatai, the empire that bournes his name has grown incredibly in the last 20 years. Before that it was little more than a land of squabbling tribes - with one or two cities here and there, rich through the Silk Road trade - much like the lands of Samarkand, from which the great conqueror Timur hailed. Their ruler, Mahmud Khan, is a military as well as a diplomatic genius, and has united the petty tribes and sheiks of the land behind his silver tongue and, when needed, his growing military power. Mahmud has dethroned the puppet khans - descendants of Chagatai put in power to legitimize the power of the current reigning warlord, a tactic used by Timur himself in his rule of Transoxiana - and established himself as the preeminent power in the lands between the Aral Sea and the Tarim basin.
Mahmud Khan, on horseback. A wise strategist and tactician, he was famed for dashing charges, headed by himself, as his men, clad in nothing but black robes and armour, descended into the enemy flank like a shadow, catching them off-guard and routing them. Stories abounded of how he was in fact a vengeful djinn, clad in darkness, sent by Allah to punish the wicked. Not only did he not supress these tall tales, he encouraged them. Psychological warfare was his tool of choice.
Mahmud is currently subduing the last independent polities in the region: the Oirat mongols pay homage to him, while the Kazahks and Timur's mediocre successors cower in fear from the incredible armies of Khan. However, once these small states have been - and all evidence points to that they will - overcome, Mahmud has three paths to choose from. Like so many steppe conquerors before him, Mahmud Khan will tire from living in squalid yurts, chasing down nomads. No! His destiny lies in taking to the lands of the so-called 'civilized', sedentary peoples. Their ways have made them soft, and the flawless war machine of the Chagatai Empire will no doubt profit from their many treasures.
A man of culture as well as a ruthless warrior, Mahmud has no qualms to hear the lamentations of his enemies' women as their household treasures are plundered - and their men butchered.
To the South stand the Timurid breakway states - Kandahar, Baluchistan, the Durrani lands - a gateway to India and its fabulous wealth. The divided northern Indian States will have difficulty resisting a two-prong war waged by two formidable adversaries. Maybe Delhi ought to be burned a second time, Mahmud has mused on more than twice.
The Forbidden City, seat of the Ming Empire.
To the East, through the Tarim Basin, was China, the land of silks. Would it not be great for him to, just as his Mongol forefathers had done three hundred yaers before, conquer China, subjecting its proud people to the harsh laws of the steppe? Indeed, just like Genghis Khan, he could use it as a launching pad for his conquests... The Forbidden City would serve as a fine temporary shelter, a prelude to his own Xanadu, a sprawling palace that would house all the luxury the world could offer. But would this luxury taint him as it tainted Timur's successors?
The sack of Baghdad by Timur.
To the West, lies the Caliphate; at the height of its power, its conquest is a tempting yet dangerous enterprise. However, if Timur did it, why couldn't he? The once proud Mongol rulers of the Ilkhanate have become effeminate Arabs, worried more about art and palace intrigues than the true occupation of a ruler - war. Maybe the Arabs needed to acknowledge their inferiority one more time by seeing their precious Baghdad burned to the ground, sacked, with its people laying as bare skulls on mounds, looking over the dark clouds of pitch black smoke rising over the city. The splendid multi-coloured mosaics of the imperial palace would make a wonderful addition to his planned grand palace.
Whatever he did, Mahmud Khan's armies, with their all-black flgas and armour, together with his ambition, genius would scar Asia for decades, centuries, even millenia to come. But will he make the same mistakes as Timur?
Also, always wait 5 minutes before you read my updates. The ways of spelling and proper sentence structure are not strong in this one
fascinating stuff and a nice scene setter
The State of the World - 1500
East Asia and Indonesia
East Asia, from the Taklimakan to Korea, and from Manchuria to the Mekong Delta.
Across the Tarim basin, we find the two great empires of Ming Dynasty China and Khmer Indochina. One of the more peculiar things to be observed is the fact that the Chinese Empire, shedding away - at least it appears so - its policy of tributary states, has accepted the Khmer Empire as an equal partner, perhaps owing to the adoption of the Khmer elite of several Chinese customs and practices. Nevertheless, these two nations undoubtedly dominate the political landscape of the East, sealed in a - so far - mutually beneficial alliance. That is not to say there isn't tension between the two, as China desires to retake the region of Annam - Northern Vietnam - historically the target of Chinese colonization, ever since the time of the Yellow Emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
China; the Asian giant lies at the eastern end of the Silk Road, supplying the West with all manner of products: silk, porcelain, lacquerware, tea, and eventually, cotton, tobacco, sugar and other New World crops. The great Yangtze and Yellow rivers cut through China, leaving behind fertile valleys, their life-giving properties enhanced by crafty irrigation systems and canals, resulting in some of the most efficiently cultivated - and well-stocked - lands in the world. The great surpluses of food throughout the centuries - especially in the late decades of the 15th century - combined with wise governance have allowed for a population boom and for many skilled artisans to populate both state-run and private workshops, producing the products China is so famous by.
The barren Taklimakan extends across Central Asia, its dreaded heat abated only along a few watering holes.
In the past years China has increasingly begun to expand into the traditional westward route, in the Taklimakan Basin, that leads into Transoxiana and, beyond it, the Middle East and Europe. By establishing garrisons and colonies in the oases that dot the sands of the desert, China has secured the profitable Silk Road, and allows for a much safer passage of merchants and travelers between East and West.
The Ming however, are also extremely open to sea trade. The expeditions of Zheng He - a Muslim eunuch in the service of the Ming Emperors - to India, Arabia and East Africa lead to a widening of the commercial opportunities of the Chinese. Chinese communities dot every commercial hotspot of Asia, supplementing the traditional overland trade through Central Asia.
Zheng He's great expedition leaves for unknown waters. This gigantic undertaking resulted in a total of 13 voyages, in which the Chinese came across a variety of peoples and goods, solidifying their knowledge - and trade contracts - with the states surrounding the Indian Ocean.
In spite of - or because of - this great economic activity across the seas of China, anarchy reigns. The Wokou pirates have seized - and built a dozen more - vital ports and cities in Taiwan, the Philippines, southern Korea and in smaller Japanese islands, and raid the intense stream of junks that arrive each year to trade in the port cities of Fukien. They have become intolerable to a degree that the Japanese daimyos of Satsuma, the Shimazu, have taken Okinawa to punish the Kingdom of Ryukyu's support for the ruthless buccaneers. The Chinese have taken steps to punish the pirates, but expenses elsewhere have detracted support - and funds - for the enterprise. Surprisingly, these rugged bandits of the sea have begun a large wave of colonization, using slave labour on pirate-owned plantations to supplement the cargo they seize and sell back at the many - and difficult to guard - ports of East Asia.
Khalil al-Rashid on his return to Tunis.
A Muslim traveler of the early 16th Century (specifically 1511-1536), Khalil al-Rashid ibn Muhammad*, which journeyed all across the Old World, from Italy to Japan, would write in his 'Travels' - a book containing both containing retellings he made later in his life, as well as letters and excerpts from his travel journal; with the importation of the printing press into the Caliphate, his works would be widely disseminated - about China:
From this description we can infer several facts of Chinese society at the time: the productivity of the manufactories, the infrastructure for grain storage, the Emperor's isolation from the general populace, the vibrant Muslim trading community, among others.Originally Posted by Khalil al-Rashid
The ancient, yet splendid temple complex of Angkor Wat stands still today in the Khmer capital.
To the South, resides the resurgent Khmer Empire, with its golden temples shining in the sunlight. Brought back from the brink of destruction by King Ponhea Yat, the reinvigorated kingdom quickly subjugated its former nemesis, the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya, and uniting the region in a show of great vitality by the seemingly crumbling Khmer kingdom. While further expansion was accomplished with the conquest of Dai Viet and the western Thai princedoms, the realm mostly descended into peace as the absorbed peoples were assimilated into the social fabric, and granted lands and privileges in return for loyalty, only for these same benefits to be later stripped shortly after they became honest, tax-paying subjects, in a show of great pragmatism by their rulers. At the same time there is a certain Sinicization of the ruling classes, who have taken in certain habits such as tea-drinking and the use of silk dresses for official occasions.
The current Khmer state is what could be termed an absolute monarchy, ruled from the great city of Angkor. The Khmer Empire is reliving and even surpassing its past glory, with great building projects : complex irrigation works, monasteries and temple complexes to Buddhist deities are and have been built, using mostly convict labour by the unruly Thais, who permanently rebelled in the first decades of their conquest.
In the mountains where the Jade Palace of the goddess Xi Wangmu - the Queen Mother Mother of the West - is nestled, Tibet holds a firm hand on the desolate plateau that forms its dominions, from the capital city of Lhasa in the southern parts of the country. Increasingly, the monasteries and their heads accumulate power, intending to establish a pious theocracy, but for now control remains in the various noble lineages and their elected kings.
However, the monasteries are closer to the people, and enjoy their support, and the nobles must find a way to curb or soften the monks' power if they are to remain in power. The warrior monks many monasteries have at their disposal are a formidable force, and a stable Tibetan government has to enjoy its favour, lest it fall under their and their brothers' control...
Indonesia, with the empire of Brunei and the city-state of Makassar's lands.
In the great archipelago that is Indonesia, two powers battle for supremacy; these are the Sultanate of Brunei and the empire of Makassar.
Brunei rose to prominence after it successfully intervened on the Khmer side during a war against the Sultanate of Malacca. With remarkable haste, the defenseless Malacca and the surrounding areas were occupied, and the sultan was presented with a very reasonable - a least to the Bruneians - request: that he appoint Sultan Sulaiman of Brunei as his only successor. With a knife to his throat, the old Sultan begrudgingly accepted the terms, and was then decapitated on the spot, with is death attributed to 'plague'. In a most surprising twist, this 'plague' seemed to target only those of the Malacca ruling classes who, in private or in public, spoke out against the Bruneian occupation of their land. Since the territory was already in full military occupation, disturbances were mild, but Sultan Sulaiman eventually acquiesced and made Malacca a 'constituent kingdom' nominally under its own administration, but in fact still suffering from the occupation and integration.
Sultan Suleiman the Great of Brunei, who launched the backwater kingdom into a major Asian power.
The next step was taken with the surprisingly easy conquest of the island of Java, as the decadent Majahapit empire and the puny princedoms of the island's western tip were soon overcome and the island established as a semi-autonomous protectorate under hereditary Bruneian governors and nobility. However, the crown jewel of Suleiman's conquests was the isle of Sumatra. Biding his time to court the various pretenders, he instructed those in whose good graces he was to ride to the northern capital of the sultanate, while he handled things in central and southern Sumatra. How his allies were fooled, we shall never know; but the truth is that the massed armies of the would-be sultans met outside the capital, and battled out the dead king's succession. Exhausted, they saw that they had been pushed into a powerless power struggle, one where Sulaiman held all of the cards... For his amusement, Sulaiman decreed that all of the island would be his except for the devastated capital of Kataraja, leaving all of the nobles to bleed each other out in petty disputes before he gives the coup de grâce to the tricked rulers of the island.
However, Sulaiman is growing old... And only his death will prove what binds the Bruneian Empire together: the Sultan himself, in which case the empire will surely descend into chaos in the wake of his sucession; or the stable government structure he has created...
Rebuilt at a later time, Makassar's Friday Mosque, despite its humble exterior - excluding the lavish mosaics that decorate its walls - was home to an elaborate set of silver goblets, cups and other objects, used in the characteristically Makassarian Muslim ceremonies of the early 16th century. They were later thieved by Portuguese adventurers, and both the cups themselves and the tales of a lost civilization - perhaps the famed kingdom of Prester John - brimming with silver, served to entice Portuguese exploration in the area and the establishment of major ports and colonies dedicated to the growth of spice in the excellent soils of the Spice Islands.
To the East we find the colonial empire of Makassar - which could be called the Athens to Brunei's Sparta, given its maritime expertise. While official inscriptions are rather rare due to the anarchic and still somewhat mysterious fragmentation and destruction of the Makassarian empire - it is believed it is due in part due to the untimely eruption of a series of volcanoes (drastically reducing the spice production the state depended on) in the decade of 1530, and when the Portuguese arrived and integrated several territories into their Oriental Empire, they remarked that there was little in the way of a functioning organized state - we can piece together a rather vivid picture of the empire in its glory days, thanks both to the Bruneian state chronicles, and the reports of travelers and traders, especially al-Rashid:
Originally Posted by Khalil al-Rashid***********************
* He left his home city of Tunis while still young, as a result of his father's death at the hands of a rival family. He went on to visit the entire Muslim World, and far beyond it. He returned in his later years to Tunis, writing and compiling his 'Travels', which is still today an important piece of travel literature, and a vivid (and mostly factual) account of the world from Italy to Japan in the first half of the 16th Century.
* Khalil Al-Rashid's lover, who remained - as far as we know - chaste in a life of waiting for her love to return from abroad, only to die days before the arrival of Khalil. This picturesque detail has led many to compare Khalil with an unlucky Odysseus, never to find his way back to his beloved Penelope. In practical terms however, she left Al-Rashid's letters in such a strictly organized way that he found that not one was missed or misplaced, despite some having arriving more than 20 years earlier than others.
That was long.
Good roundup of the state of the east. Khmer and Brunei were real surprises.
No surprise that trouble is brewing out on the steppe. The Rajputs may find themselves crushed in a vice - Vijayanagara to the south, Chagatai to north
Exile in the East - a Helleno-Varangian CK AAR (Part 28 posted 03 January 2012)
AARland Choice AwAARds - CK historybook winner Q3 & Q4 2011
Showcased 09-Sep-2011, Character writer of the week 28-Mar-2011
Fan of the Week 07-Feb-2011 & 03-Jul-2011
Also, pretty blue water!
State of the World - 1500
Japan and Korea
Korea and Japan during the Sengoku Jidai.
The Korean people are a hardened one, more by necessity than by design. Having been orbiting around China since the Yan state - of pre-imperial China - invaded it and set up the first prefectures in the land of Chosun, the Koreans have gained fame as staunchly committed to the ideal of independence. In subsequent invasions - such as those of the Han and Tang dynasties - many Chinese customs and ideas were introduced, in particular the doctrines of Buddhism - which spread to China sometime in the 1st Century AD - and Confucianism. In all instances however, the invaders were beaten back - even if there centuries of foreign occupation at times - and the state of Silla grew to unite the entire Korean people under one banner, and ruled the lands in peace.
A pavillion in the Korean royal palace.
The Korean lands are rich and, in peace, the crafts, similar to those of China, have burgeoned, and extensive tax reforms have taken place so that the state can partake of the generalized prosperity sweeping the nation. Wages are rising, and with it a new middle class is appearing, one which can afford many of the nobility's comforts, yet tend to their businesses, mainly trade and mining operations, in the search of more profit. This commercial bourgeoisie - if it can be termed so - owns the shipping companies, many workshops, and have the profitable privilege of being the intermediaries between China and Japan, after the Ming officially embargoed Japan, blaming it for the widespread piracy that engulfs the seas of China. Grouped in what could be called armed caravans, lines of ships brave the pirate-laden seas, armed to the teeth, a prize only fit for the most powerful of pirate warlords.
The Wokou pirates terrorize the seas of China
However, once more, this peace is disturbed. To the south, Wokou pirates, deprived of raiding Korean ships, avenge themselves by raiding coastal towns mercilessly, and have even set up bases in the southernmost Korean isles! To complicate matters further, to the north, the barbaric Jurchens pillage along the border, and one group nearly made it to Pyongyang before a narrow defeat was inflicted on it by a local militia. To the west, China greedily casts its eyes on the Peninsula, although the kingdom's formal status as an enfeoffed state may serve to deter the Chinese, even if temporarily. And in the century or so of peace, the military has grown accustomed to peace time, and even before, it was a hollow force, due to the kings' well-founded fear of military coups, so common in the history of the previous dynasties. If the peace is to be restored once more, Korea needs a great leader, one which the royal family lacks. But will this general - or admiral - in his turn topple the government to please his ambitions?
Across the sea, the Sengoku Jidai - the age of the country at war - continues to rage in Japan. Ever increasing armies fight on the hills of Japan. Long forgotten are the early days, were the fate of battles was decided in a flurry of man-to-man combat by skilled samurai. Armies of ashigaru - commoners - with only a small core of expert samurai are rising, and as result war becomes increasingly fierce, both due to the much larger battles and to the pillaging needed to feed the men - bellum se ipsum alet*.
The powerless shoguns were increasingly dwarfed by the warlords of the surrounding provinces.
Ever since the Onin war, the Ashikaga Shogunate's power continues to decrease wane, the Shogun being little more than another daimyo - and a weak one at that. To the South, the Shimazu clan of Satsuma, besides having taken half of Kyushu for itself, has occupied the isles surrounding Okinawa, lands of the former kingdom of Ryukyu; and holds these lands, being technically outside Japan, as independent lands, outside anyone's control but the Satsuma. While this has no immediate effect, due to the already crippled Shogunate, it only serves to mock its ability to react even further.
To make matters worse, pirates plague the coast up to Echigo and that of the Seto Naikai, the Inland sea. With the almost nonexistent central authority, the daimyos themselves have to conduct costly punitive expeditions against the marauders, taxing yet again the beleaguered peasantry, which nearly constitutes the sole source of revenue, and chopping down great forests for the construction of their great oar-driven galleys.
Closer to Kyoto, the Hatakeyama Clan controls the entire coast of the Kii peninsula, hugging the sea from Settsu to Owari province. Inland, in the ancient Yamato region, from which the Yamato expanded to rule over much of Japan, and from where the emperor once ruled, in the former capital of Nara. Many smaller clans try, unsuccessfully, to control the region, with the famed monasteries of the region taking place in the fight for supremacy in the lands just south of Kyoto.
The peaceful virgin territory of Hokkaido attracted displaced Japanese eager to start a new life in peace.
Beside many more warlike clans in the war-torn west, the Date clan stands out due to their small conquests in southern Hokkaido, trading with the native Ainu tribes for precious iron ore, to be used to produce weapons to fuel the ever-present wars. Due to the already sparsely populated northern regions of Japan, fleeing peasants populate both these new lands, in search of a safe haven, and the other lands of the clan, both to increase revenue through farming and to serve as manpower.
Much like in the Italian city-states of the early 15th century, whenever a power appears that might conquer the other states with ease, the others band against him, dismembering him and warring then over the pieces, until one emerges victorious, restarting the cycle. This only serves to impoverish the land and delay any form of peace. Just like in Italy, maybe it will take a powerful foreign state to coax the states into a more unified mass - or two, as is the case with Florence and Genoa... But what state could that be? Not that China, Korea nor Brunei have an interest in holding a precarious far-off holding in the islands. Maybe a power from beyond Asia, or a foreign idea... Or both.
* War feeds itself [through pillaging].
Also, I'm only gonna do another if these intermissions, about East Africa. The idea behind them was to get you up to date in the rest of the world, the idea being that I want to make the regular updates not as focused on the Caliphate itself, but also in its surroundings. Some very nice things will soon happen, and I reckon you'd have the backstory up front
Japan seems to be pretty much divided. Is it a mod result?
Brittania: A Saga of Albion - Hiatus
† AwAARds †
WritAAR of the Week 11/23/09
Character WritAAR of the Week 03/08/10
Favourite CK History Book AAR 07/06/2010 and 01/02/2011
There are several mods for Japan, like the 'Japan mod' and 'More daimyo mod'. I have however intervened occasionally. Shikoku belonging to Ming doesn't feel right.
Furthermore, I introduced some events later, so the result isn't all kosher
State of the World - 150
While only four political forces are represented on the map, it is important to note that most chiefs in the late Mutapa Empire were de facto independent from the their nominal overlord in Uteve.
In the lands of East Africa, where beautiful mosques don the narrow streets of lonely cities, gazing upon the cobalt blue ocean, and surrounded by the savanna, where the most fearsome and awesome beasts - the leopard, the elephant, and the lion - roam, an empire falls and a new one arises, a constant reminder of the mortality of man and his constructs. Meanwhile, the creatures of the wild care not, and continue their life as they have for thousands of years.
The empire of Mutapa, that infamous tribe that arose from the African hinterland to conquer all land between Mozambique and the Horn of Africa, the one that squashed the combined forces of the rich Swahili city-states, plundered their famous cities and even threatened the Yemenite* Sultans (of Ethiopia), is a shadow of its former self. As with all fulminating stars in the sky above us, they could only shine for so long before becoming hollow, destitute shells of their former brilliance.
The bravery of the Mutapan warriors was greatky famed.
Causing what can be compared to the pandemonium of the Huns riding through Eurasia, a thousand lesser tribes either ran to more peaceful corners of Africa or were absorbed into the battle-hardened ranks of the Mutapa. Others, less lucky were enslaved and forced into subservience. Like the Scythians, great riders of old, elders to the Sarmatians, the great warriors of Mutapa found annihilation in their success: they grew accustomed to the fineries of civilization, growing more and more distant to their people, and more importantly, to the common soldier, feed on little more than roots, the backbone of power. As the 'court' - as they came to designate their circle - grew more decadent, charismatic chiefs, mostly those who belonged to other tribes or had been refused entry into the Uteve court for one reason or the other, became increasingly powerful, rallying the disaffected commoners to their cause of self-rule from the 'Western fools'.
While never truly independent, these chiefs were for all effects kings in their lands, and the court soon found they were, for all effects, powerless outside the palace grounds. As the shipments of gold, furs, ivory and other fineries the court had become accustomed to decreased into a mere trickle, as less and less chiefs paid homage to the high king, petty civil wars - which had practically no effect outside Uteve - began among the court, like lotus eaters denied their precious succor. As the central authority gave way to weaker local chiefs again, the Swahili cities could reappear as a significant force in the region.
And appear they did, only on a different mold. Intending to learn from the disorganized and indecisive defense against the Mutapa, the Swahili confederation began as little more than a union between several towns on the island of Zanzibar and of Kilwa, only to balloon into a sprawling state, counting the greatest pre-Mutapan cities in its ranks, and venturing into the founding of new ones on the islands southeast of Zanzibar, and even on the northern reaches of Madagascar.
Great and ostentatious signs of wealth were common in this period - who yearned for past glory - as exemplafied in this massive wooden entrance to a mosque in Zanzibar.
With each member city annually sending its representatives to Zanzibar to decide on the confederation's policies, the young republic is quickly repopulating the oft-deserted cities, and filling them with riches. One particularly notable example was a raid deep into tribal territory, which successfully recovered a relic related to Muhammad and returned it to its original mosque.
Far to the North, in the Ethiopian highlands the Yemenite* Sultanate, exiled from its original lands by the Caliphate, its erstwhile ally - and current overlord - has done the best to make its new address seem like home. With the landlocked sultanate's foreign nobility and many indigenous peoples, yet another one appears, in the world's constantly bubbling melting pot. Bode'en, the language resulting from the mix of the mix of the Yemeni Arab dialects and those of northern Ethiopia, would, starting from the legalization of intermarriage between Arabs with Ethiopians and Adalans - the document, dated 1497, is still today on display in the National Museum of History, in Gondar, despite recent attempts to destroy it by Berihun Muhammad's nationalist movement - began to spread and would eventually become the official language of the state in the mid-17th Century.
The Yemenite sultans initially set up residence in the old castles of the Solomonid Dynasty. They later moved to a far less spartan palace near the centre of the city, near the modern Office of the Treasury.
However, until then, the state is dangerously positioned in one of the most ethnically diverse regions on Earth, and while it cannot yet count on a common language to serve as a unifying factor, it has done important progress in spreading Sunni Islam to the local Eastern Orthodox Christians, and the Northern provinces have nearly abandoned their Christian roots. Still, the state is fragile, and the occasional help from the undermanned Jalayirid garrisons along the coast is not enough to placate the fearsome revolts that are so common when a people is governed by those alien to its customs. Most surprisingly however, is the ingenuity with which the various Yemenite rulers governed what was - originally - little more than a compensatory fief for the Caliphate's conquest of their home. Taxes, force of arms, full-on embargoes, all of these morally questionable practices - although there were others, like the allowance of inter-race marriages that were designed to ameliorate the situation of the natives - were fair game in pacifying the provinces, and while the government is cruel and despotic, even downright tyrannical at times, it was still a brutally effective tactic, which kept the fragmented region together through the many trying times ahead.
*The translator would like to apologize for his failure to distinguish the words 'Yemeni' and 'Yemenite', so that the reader can further understand the relationship between the Bode'en and the modern Yemenis. The former refers to the citizens of the modern republic of Yemen, while the latter comprises only the pre-Bode'en Arab rulers of modern Ethiopia. While the nationalist movements of the 19th century promoted the idea of an african 'Ethiopian' ethnicity, at the expense of the many connections of the country to its former 'homeland'. Today the two states maintain each other to be brother states, with the existence of an alliance between them. They have also become more dependant on each other recently due to the possible threat from the alliance between the Hedjaz and Nubia. However, modern geopolitics are best left to the later chapters.
just stumbled onto this AAR - absolute fantastic read. at the expense of time originally planned for work. at least i still get paid. i hope.
your battle of the levant chapter was epic and the actual historical references and intermissions show you've put a lot of time and effort into this.
although your maps look nice personally i'd like to see more actual screenshots
now i'll like in advance to apologies for my pathetic attempt of poetry
now go forth and be a tiresome firebrand
convert the infidel lot in the wasteland
hail oh mighty ruler with the headband
so the caliph may spread across even more sand
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I would rather fight an alliance than be part of one - Napoleon
I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.