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ALST 301 Ephraimid Dynasty, Pre-Saros Period

Welcome to Alanian Studies 301. If you are still trying to find a seat, let me assure you that they are all taken and you are wasting both your time and mine. Thank you. Other professors might want to start with administrative details, but you can find everything online and you all know it - just don't email me late at night with questions. I sleep like a human being and not like a student, so I will not be online at midnight. Alright then.


The first surviving mention of the Alans is from a half finished set of poems called the Bellum Civile, about the war between Caesar and Pompey. Classical records paint them as your typical barbarian group from the near east, tribal horsemen. They were Sythians or Sarmatians and their classical name (Alani) became one of the bywords for all who came from there, or looked like they did. At their height they invaded Gaul along with the Goths in 451 AD. Of course, whilst the Visigoths created great kingdoms throughout the former Roman Empire, the Alans were more interested in pillaging the lands they conquered. The anonymous authors of the Chronica Gallica paint an image of magnificent warriors without peer, but also that they had no interest at all in ruling anything. In less than a decade of their conquests, they were driven out by their neighbours. Their first shot at making history completely wasted.


Records of them subsequently revolve solely around the region north of the Caucasus Mountains, the Alanian plain. Byzantine records show us that they spent centuries simply living out the life of mercenaries in foreign armies, fighting from southern Italy to the deserts of Baghdad. Chinese records such as those of the Wusun (from Han dynasty) even hint at Alanians becoming settled inside China itself. Unfortunately for them they never had the numbers to fight their neighbours at home, and after spending many years involved with the shifting pattern of purely political alliances between tribes, were dominated by various Kipchak neighbours over the centuries. Most recently for our story, the Cumans rule over most of the Alanian plains and thus the tribes that live there.


At the edge of the Caucasus Mountains however they managed to flesh out a Kingdom in the Georgian style, based around the pass which came to be known as the Gate of the Alans (or the Gates of the Caspian). It was one of the very, very few mountain passes wide enough to allow trade caravans through, and thus the Alans benefited directly from trade between the Russian princes and the Caliphate region. A city sprang up in the 10th Century with the name Maghas, from which various Alanian groups ruled over a small number of the tribes - but naturally claimed rulership of all Alanian peoples.

They came to prominence after adopting Greek rites of Christianity - well, for at least the second time. Their first conversion had been discarded for an alliance with the Jewish Khazars of Itil, but in the late 10th Century it was brought back for good by the temporarily ruling King of Abgasia. With their increased importance they came into formal contact with the Byzantines and Georgians, and as recently as 1055 an Alanian Princess was invited to Constantinople. After her death however, they disappeared from most records probably into civil war.


Artists Reinterpretation of the Oldest Known Ephraimid Emblem​

Had this been the end of their story, they would likely have been absorbed into the tribesmen of the region and would have their language lost in favour of another forced upon them by a foreign King centuries later. Perhaps the Alans in China would have made another appearance, but needless to say they would have made no further impact on history.

Thankfully for me - and those of you who are here with a genuine interest rather than farming my course for GPA - the story continues on, well, for a good while longer. Now I simply can't stand interruptions in the middle of lectures, so please save all questions for afterwards. And yes, I expect you to have questions. History is deep, so if you aren't asking "WHHHYYYYY?" like an impudent child then you either don't care or have done this course before. To the latter, don't bother arriving at my lectures again.

The rest of you, we'll start with the anonymous father of the Ephraimid dynasty and his conquests next time. Questions?





Note from the Author

Hey and thanks for taking an interest! This isn't my first attempt at an AAR, ect ect. Please criticise and comment as you read - and most importantly I'd like you to ask me questions about the story. I've played ahead (to 1281 at time of writing), so the skeleton plot is all recorded - but the depth and long term influences will be fleshed out in answers ranging up to small essays to questions you ask. This of course applies to both the events of the Kingdom of Alania and elsewhere in the world! Thank you to all of you, whether you comment/ask questions or simply check it out every now and again.

Oh, and as for mods and editing: I use DVIP, BOPACK and Mappa Regorum. And whilst 90% of the story is straight from events, a few times I will step in to make some interesting changes, using save editor software. I also abuse the 'DIE' command a few times. I'll point them out to you if significant or interesting.

This is the source for the background paper textures, the rest is my own work or explicitly public domain.
 

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The First Ephraimid

Alright, this week we are going to start proper with what we know of the first of the Ephraimid Alani Monarchs. Can you hear me at the back? No? Hold on... There we go. Test? Test? Okay.

As I said last week, the early and largely unknown period of the Alanian Kingdom ended with the loss of contact between Constantinople and the Alans - after the death of the Alanian Princess. Records are very limited during this time as it wont be until the diaries of Queen Alexandria and the rise of Monasteries that we get complete and formal records. What we do know is that a man under the dynasty name "Ephraimid" rose to power from the likely power vacuum or possible civil war within Maghas at some point between 1060 and 1070.

A note on the name "Ephraimid". There is some discussion of the origins of the name and whether it was used in contemporary times at all. Due to the en large loss of the original Alanic dialect and scripture following the destruction of much of the region in 1205, we can not know if Ephraimid was a genuine name or an artificial construct placed in after the fact. The two most commonly accepted options are: Ephraimid as a derivitive of Ephraim the Judaist Biblical figure - or Ephraimid from the 14th century historian Ephraimid who did a number of works attempting to translate works from this period. Either way, for the purposes of this course we shall be using Ephraimid as a surname as opposed to other theories such as it being a title or simply not existing at all. So when writing papers I do not want to see Saros Ephraimid written in any other form than this. No Saros son of Ephraim, that may cost you goodwill marks.


(Assumed regions of control for each three groups.)


Now, the main source of records from this time are few scraps of a work created for the Prince of Sarir in 1078, the ruler of the town and region there to the east - on the Caspian coast. As you can see, Ephraimid's lands are situated around Maghas, his capital. What is important to remember is that whilst he and his subjects are Greek Christian in practice not all Alans follow the same creed. In the same light, not all Alans are under his domain. Ignoring the Cuman lands to the north, there is another large political block here, to the west. We know specifically that the warlord of this region was both Pagan and hostile, and that around 1070 there was large conflict between the two leaders of the Alanian people. By winning this conflict, the Ephraimid defined the future of his people as Christian in nature and that they would conform to the 'Feudal Contract' system favoured in the west as opposed to a tribal one. This comes more into play in the 13th Century, but its origins are here.

Now, from what we know the Prince of Sarir came to accept vassalage under the Ephraimid and the region around Sarir (later named Humraj) was for a long time at the heart of the Alanian Kingdom, although in a different form. The reason for this is recorded by the historian Ephraim and hinted at by the Prince as being one of mutual agreement rather than actual conflict. Ephraim states:



There is also mention of an alliance with the neighbouring Kingdom of Georgia, though it is curiously absent from all Georgian records - such as they are. Unfortunitely for him however, whilst he had a handle on his external enemies there was apparently problems internally. At some point between the vassalage of Sarir and the comissioning of the Princes records, this first Ephraimid was supplanted by his son, Yasynya. Unfortunitely this is where the records of Sarir become unreliable. He had a personal hatred of this new king and this commisioned work cannot be relied upon as an accurate measure of the first named King. For example, he writes very vividly that Yasynya murdered his father in cold blood and usurped the Kingdom against the wishes of all the Alans and of his fathers allies.

And yet, despite this, there is little to no evidence that there was any civil conflict between the acention of the first Ephraimid and the later years of Yasynya - particularly no conflict involving Georgia. Ergo you must understand that Yasynya rose to power in unknown circumstances possibly involving murder and deceipt. We also don't hear anything about him before his sudden acention, so he may not even be of the same bloodline - although even the Prince calls him 'the son'.

I think we'll wrap that up for now, next week I will hopefully complete the reign of Yasynya Ephraimid in one sitting. I expect you to read up on pages 21 - 34 and the early wars against the Kipchak tribesmen, to add detail and background to our next topic. Questions?
 

Alfredian

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This is very good. well done.

Nice use of maps and you have the voice of the lecturer nicely captured.
 

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[Thanks for the comments and compliments! My updates may end up being sporadic, but they are planned. Plenty more of this to come! Oh, and the more comments, the less image heavy each page is - so more convenient for you folks.]


Yasynya Ephraimid

I know you have seen them five times this week so far, but please applaud the students handing out the leaflets. If anything it'll get them out the way so I can start my lecture sooner. Alright we have a lot more to cover in one lecture so lets get going - and do not complain I am talking too fast, it's all online anyway.

So at some unknown point between 1070 and 1075 Yasynya Ephraimid came to power. He is regarded, in the traditionalist view, as a completely vile warlord figure who sought to rule over all Alans for his own twisted purposes. Now I do not subscribe to that idea for two reasons. One, the primary record we have of him is so biased and damaged that we do not know when he died; two, it does however teach us he ate children of Cumans he personally defeated in combat. This is of course ridiculous and I suggest that you do not believe a word of it. For this ruler we have to make many assumptions and inferences about him, as all we really know is what he managed to achieve between munching on children's bones. You have probably not heard much of him, but it was he - not Pulad, who began to conquer the large realm that the Kingdom of Alania would become.

Let us begin with what we can interpret from his horrible acts pre 1075. He 'turned away from Christianity', according to the Sarir. What would you say that means? Yes, you in the third row.... Yes that’s true. She said that it was likely that he was not popular with the Greek Church, which is what historians have deduced. There are many records of Othadox missionaries travelling through the region and yet unlike in other missionary circumstances there are minimal monasteries appearing until Pulad's reign. This implies not only a disregard for religious matters, but a direct refusal to allow organised religion to spread further into Alanian lands. Now, what I was hoping to hear as well was more diplomatic. By turning away from the church Yasynya would be turning away from Georgia as well, thus assuming that the Kingdom shared no allies.

What? I told you not to ask questions while I’m talking! Fine, the answer is no. I'll talk about why he definitely didn't gain allies with the pagan Cumans soon enough. The first challenge to Yasynya's reign came in 1075, which coincidently is one of the first solid dates for an event we have. There seems to have been a plague of some kind in Sarir, although it is not clear beyond 'bodies lying in the streets' of what nature it was. Most likely it was pestilence, though given the later raids on Humraj, it is possible it could have been a Persian pirate strike. The upshot of this is that the Prince of Sarir, the man who hates his King more than any other person, desperately asks for his help against the Emir of Derbent.



Now, Derbent is a very important location for the region as it is the other main method of passing through the Caucasus if you are a trader. It had been under the rule of the local Turks for centuries, and they had become handsomely wealthy and powerful over the years. In fact, there is a record of Alans and Russians together raiding the city in the 10th century, though the outcome is lost to history. It's strategic significance was undermined only by the Gates of Alania, and the move by the Emir of Derbent to try and take Sarir for himself is likely a calculated move to destabilise the rival trade passage for his own profit.

This is where we can first see the true significance of Yasynya on the future of Alania - he personally leads his cavalry to victory over the Turkish forces against all expectation. Remember, Derbent is a prosperous city and there is a plague in vicinity of the Alan homelands which means that he most likely won against greater numbers and against a better equipped foe. His victory was apparently undermined by:

"... [his] lazy nature and unwillingness to sully [his] perfect image. He sent lesser men to finish the Turk, and they returned with less than [his] victory warranted"

Whilst long and bloody, the war granted the Alans with a huge advantage: controlling both the Gates of Alania and Derbent. Remember that the whole of trans-Caucasus trade was through these two locations, by controlling them the Alans gained a huge boost in finances over the long term. In the short term, they mearly gained the spoils looted from Derbent, but nonetheless they were apparently substantial and granted Yasynya room to breath despite his depleted army. From this point we start to see more domestic policy emerging within the state, and the first instances of the affairs of the King and court - although still seen through the distorted lens of the Prince's account.


After successfully taking Suluk, Derbent and Khisar, Yasyanya left and the tribesmen were split and sent to take the next three forts independently - a task which they failed.

I appear to have run out of time for this lecture, so next time we shall talk in depth about his potential motivations for leaving the front line (and thus the succession and his heirs). We shall also hopefully cover the Cumans, Khazars and the very first roots of permanent church presence in the Kingdom. Questions?
 
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Conquests also mean land with which to reward supporters. Always helpful for a fledgling dynasty.
 

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Yasynya Ephraimid Part II

I'm sorry about this but I shall have to speak without the wireless microphone today, as earlier today it started picking up radio music and disrupted the whole lecture for half an hour. As amusing as the students found it, we have far too much to cover in too little time - we have to press on.

Now, last week we ended with the conquest of Derbent and thus the start of the key period of Yasynya's reign - the conflict with the northern tribes. You see, although he was provoked into striking south to Derbent, his focus was almost certainly on the Cumans to the north. The Cumans were another tribal society, one of the Kipchak groups, who had risen to power in the region in the last century and had taken control of most of Alania to acomplish it. They spanned across the Don and the Volga and were traditionally a powerful adversary for anyone nearby, whether another tribe or a Russian Prince. From our record by the Prince of Sarir, however, it is clear that the Cumans had suffered in recent times an internal collapse and thus were losing power at a rapid rate. Yasynya made an alliance with the Khazars, in the last example of the local tradition of Alliances despite religion and amnesty, and they jointly invaded the Cuman territories south east of the Volga.


The most commonly accepted border regions for the three powers. Note that the Cumans were declining and as such we cannot be certain about their controlled areas. Also note the region in the centre of Cuman territory, which denotes the Principality of Belya Vezha (also referred to as Sarkand and the White Tower or House)

This conflict demonstrates the martial ability of the Alans when presented with a weakened foe perfectly. In a short amount of time the Kingdom expanded to over three times its initial size as it pushed the Cumans all the way back to and beyond the river. How could it possibly accomplish this? Well the current theory is that the local Alanian tribes were compelled, or perhaps forced, to join up with the Yasynyas armies as they overran the plains. Due to the disparate nature of the populations on the ground the Alanians were easily able to occupy a large area and hold it for a short period of time without significant resistance. What is most telling about the Alanian army at this time is that the River itself was not a major terrain obstacle - they managed to push all the way north into Russia itself.

Yasynya was clearly a great martial leader, or at least a seasoned and lucky one, as he led his people to a subsequent victory over the Tribsmen of the Don to the west within months. Once again homever, Yasynya fell victim to his personal career and withdrew from the seige of the stone fort at what was then called Duna, at the mouth of the Don. The Prince of Sarir refered to that moment as one of utter paranoia, suggesting he turned back in fear of the Khazars breaking their oath. At this moment we also find the first mention of direct interaction between the King and the Patriarch. The former seems to have sent a message, or a representative to Yasynya and compelled him to grant the church land within the expanded Alanian state, the roots of the long standing church holdings at the mouth of the Don.


A proposal of the territory taken by the victors. Only a few records and the known locations of military defeats in the subsequent decades can determine the extent of control reached by the end of Yasynya's campaign.

Before we continue, I should make some notes about what little we can judge of the personal affairs of Yasynya. Sifting through the allegations from the Prince, it seems as if there was a succession crisis occuring around the same time as the invasion of Derbent. For whatever reason, the King did not have a suitable heir and was likely very despirate to obtain one. Ah, before I get a flurry of emails on the subject: it is very likely that Yasynya did not consider a woman eligable to rule over the realm. No, there is no error in your text books, Irinia Ephraimid was indeed his daughter, but she was also never considered for the throne. Needless to say, as of this time, he probably did not have a living or healthy son. Many historians have linked this fact to the Kings early withdrawal from both Campaigns - assuming the King considered his lineage more important than the conquest of a neighbour.

We now unfortunately face a serious gap in the records from the Prince of Sarir, as his record ends here and he turns up in the early 1080's in Trebizond exiled from his former realm. It seems as if there was a general disturbence in the Kingdom and he took the opportunity to attempt to remove Yasynya from power - but failed. What he leaves behind is a critical, decade long gap in our understanding of the period, and a complete lack of information on several key events in the development of the Alanian state: The Conquest of the Khazars and the miraculous incorporation of their realm seamlessly into the heart of the Kingdom, and the succession after Yasynya. Fortunately in the late 1080's the first of the Othadox monasteries appear throughout the Kingdom, most importantly the one located near the town of Humraj, and we peice together a much different state of affairs which the Kingdom has fallen into.

Next week, we'll deal with what we know about Kuddana the Marshall and Irinia Ephraimid, who appear at the helm of a much humbled yet united Alanian Nation. Questions?
 
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Alfredian, to demonstrate my wish to receive and answer questions, I'll take your welcome advice and answer it as if you had asked me why it was not mentioned. These sections are extra and I will focus on getting main updates out before I devote time to answering them - as they are extras, their length and quality will vary depending on the query. Thanks for the excuse! =)


As to the rewarding of supporters with land:
There are very few records of these early days of the Ephraimids, which hobbles our understanding of their society and domestic political structure greatly. The memoirs of the Prince of Sarir focus largely of the affairs of the Ruler and of foreign policy, which leaves us with many assumptions about the workings of this early state. Nevertheless, the concept of rewarding supporter with land is a very common theme amongst early rulers and dynasties, particularly before the trend of centralising control took hold over their interests. In tribal societies such as the one the Alans begin to move out of, the political and geographical units are still very much primitive - limiting the ability of any man to own more than his local society and the area it dominates. For example, giving a man the title of Prince over a specific region does very little practically - the groups within a region are self governing and mobile by nature and can simply ignore the Prince or leave. Therefore there is no real rank between the local warlord and the King himself, they pledge allegiance to him and no other in this pre-feudal society. In practice, even the Prince of Sarir seems to conform to this general rule of thumb.

What the King can do, and what many believe the Alanian King did, was favour particular warlords to rule over particular areas. By rewarding those warlords who do him good service in war, he in effect grants certain regions that were previously contested to valued supporters. This lends itself very well to the progression towards feudalism, as it establishes a patchwork of relatively secure and loyal supporters who have less incentive to move around. This becomes particularly well entrenched in the lands closest to Maghas and the Caucasus. It also encourages particularly cunning warlords to seek to fill the gap between King and local strongman, which leads to the Princes and Counts that appear in the reign of Aspar Ephraimid, and flourish throughout the days of Saros. This is all speculation of course, but it fits well with social progression and issues that emerge as the Kingdom marches towards feudalism.

Relating to the gap between Yasynya and Kuddana, it seems as if this progression was not as well practised or successful in the lands gained through the defeat of the Cumans. This area was held much more loosely by the crown, and many of those Counts or Princes who claimed ownership over the area later had to be more sympathetic with the Kipchak tribal culture than the developing Alanian one near Maghas. These regions were generally governed in later times by a single heavily fortified point from which the Prince ruled, where he or she would meet local leaders to enforce or decide what to do. This system remained in place despite being the downfall of many Princes who would try to tell the tribes what to do and who to fight. It managed to endure the attempts of numerous powerful figures (most infamously King Arsen) throughout the 12th century.
 

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Kuddana the Marshall and Irina Ephraimid

Settle down, settle down please! I apologise for being ill last week, but this means we are going to have to get through twice as much as we normally do for the forseeable future. Quickly getting started:

We ended last week with the final notes of the Prince of Sarir's records and the ascention of the Kingdom of Alania to dominate southern Russia by absorbing the lands of its two largest neighbours. Now such an unchecked and sudden expansion is very easy to reverse in the short term, especially if gained in war - the Alans almost certainly didn't have the will or the numbers to keep them under military control. If diplomatic appeasement efforts fail and political/military control weakens, then we get... well, look for yourself.



This is a map of the lands recorded by the monks at Humraj in the late 1090's. As you can see it is far stretch from the great acres dominated by Yasynya. What seems to have happened is exactly as I said before: Political instability. Yasynya Ephraimid appears to have died or been removed between his successful conquest and 1095. The result was a general loss of control over the outer regions of the Kingdom to other Kipchak tribes who had been hesitant to attack the Cumans directly. Due to the ecclesiastical nature of many of our records, we know a great deal about a Cuman assault on church lands at the mouth of the Don (the river on the left there) and less about the excusions throughout the northern plains. The records state that the Cumans made a major incursion during a time of political instability for the Kingdom, and the result was a general rout in the region. A man, who appears to have been a popular but small scale warlord, rallied forces together and managed to push them back all the way past the river and to the fortified city of "Duna". You will remember, this is the fort that Yasynya was apparently unable to take. This man, named Kuddana, somehow managed to take it (the method being lost through the ages), and was thus awarded the title "Marshall" and effective control over the entire Kingdom. Through military accomplishments and deals with the Don tribesmen further upriver, he managed to cement the border at the river itself, with he exceptions of Duna, the Russian controlled port of Tmutarakan - which today we would call Rostov - and Beleya Vezha, which today is sadly a ruin.

By 1097, he had established himself as a King of sorts. According to the reports of a Byzantine diplomatic mission to investigate the area, he had the praise of all his subjects, a had firm control of the military and financial matters of the kingdom, and was wedded to Irina Ephraimid, the eldest daughter of Yasynya. He boasted that earlier that year he had single handedly crushed a Turkish attack on Derbent and forced them to give him annual tribute. More than this, we are not certain. What many theorise is that within this time he travelled around reguarly, crushing small scale revolts of minorities (such as the Jews at Itil) and dissuading his neighbours. His brief reign will have lasted as such until the turn of the century, 1100, the approximate year of his death. Now, he was married to Irina Ephraimid, the daughter of Yasynya. She appears to have been a very active and vocal enemy of her husband during the latter parts of his reign, as evidenced by works from her later life. Therefore, when she produced the young Pulad out of what seems to be thin air, few historians beleive her story that the child was the lost son of Yasynya. It is seen rather as a vain attempt to keep power over a regent she had direct control over, that she put into place as the Marshall lay on his deathbed.


Whilst we have few records to authenticate the early Ephraimid family, Pulad stands out as a particularly suspicious case of uncertain relations.

Pulad, 14 years old when he arrives into our story, seems strangely attached to the old marshall - following the body all the way to its eventual incarceration at a monostary in northern Georgia (a mystery unto itself, was Kuddana Georgian?). Over the next three years, he sits as a regent under his mother, until in 1101 he casts her into exile and takes up the throne for himself. He sends out for a foreign wife, and the same year we are introduced to our second character in one of the most interesting and controversial reigns of the period. That is for next time, of course. Any questions?
 

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Authors Note:

Okay so I've kind of lost interest and no-one else seems to have much interest. My original plan spread 4 classes, and when I saw some of the integral design problems I shrank it to just the 1 class... and now I'm not so sure that I'd be finishing it to tell the story or just for the sake of finishing it. If anyone distinctly wants me to finish, please say, but otherwise lets consider this on hiatus while I work on another AAR. One that's more spontaneous, more consistent in graphical style and with a greater quality of images. And hopefully more consistent with update timing. Thanks for taking the interest in reading.
 

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I was enjoying the story! Please continue.
 

Tufto

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Yes, me too! A lack of comments does not mean a lack of readers.
 

unmerged(127999)

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This is excellent, and you should keep on doing it. I like the format, and I think the meta-story (the history the professor is teaching) is fascinating. Please continue, I'll post more comments if that helps at all.
 

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Authors Note:

Oh wow, okay! It is very hard to judge interest just using page views, apparently. I shall certainly finish at very least the first "Act" of this, seeing as people are actually enjoying it. I'll get an extra long one out to you guys tonight, thanks!
 

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Pulad Ephraimid​

Hello there students! I thought we'd begin today on a bright note and talk about your upcoming midterm exams, hah. We'll be covering everything from the First Ephraimid to where we left off last week with the ascention of Pulad to the throne, and it'll take place next week in class. I've put the rest of the information up onto the network so you can find it, please leave any questions to the end, we need to press on regardless.

Next I feel I must preface the reign of Pulad with a few very important to remember points. Is anyone here from the Caucasus mountains, or were their families from there? Ah, only a few. To those of you that don't know, a significant group settled in this area in colonial times - makes for an interesting local history. To those few, can anyone tell the audience the basic gist of the 'Fall of Summer Roses'? Yes, you there. .... Absolutely. To those who didn't quite hear, it is an old, VERY old and very traditional folk poem in the Alan tradition. What has survived several brutal translations makes for an extremely long and badly rewritten recital, but of course it is one of the few the people had, and so every Alanian mother and her children know it off by heart. Heres an excerpt:


I'm sure if it wasn't a protected cultural work it would have been banned years ago, it's not exactly your typical PG childrens story! My long and winding point is that this is a story descending from shortly after the reign of Pulad Ephraimid, and almost certainly about his actions. I'll leave the details until next week, but i'm sure 'Rise oh rise the robe hempen' and 'Wives and sons they did betray' should give you a pretty clear idea of the wonderful things he got up to during his reign. Secondly, I'm sure a few of the older students in the room watched that delightful childrens animation: "Hannibal's Apprentice", about the rise of Saros. Pulad here is portrayed as a jolly old fat man, with a streak of irresponsibility in his choices that I've never seen rivalled. Needless to say? Scrub this clean from your mind. Pulad's reign is a crucial one for his kingdom and highly controversial, and he certainly wasn't old, fat or particuarly jolly.


The Banner of Pulad's Alania and that of his successors. It remained in use for only a few decades.


Some of you may be wondering why I am taking particular time to set this reign up instead of simply jumping into it. I assure you, whilst the previous Ephraimid rulers are relitively seperate, these last few before Saros are all embroiled by the same chain of events. To misunderstand one is to lose track of the rest, and thus to fail to comprehend the significance of Saros himself. In this light, we should introduce the second most important character to this particular play - Alexandria Kalothetos.

She was born and raised in the Greek city of Mystras, the one that many today believe to be the modern form of old Laconia - capital of Sparta. We know she was a Greek princess, of a dynasty which ruled Crete at the time. We know she had a brother who served as her guardian and persuaded her to look far afield for a more 'Interesting' suitor, a fact she became quite bitter about. You see, she wrote a diary of which we have a complete copy, and she wrote it from her departure from Mystras all the way until- aha, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let us just say it is a complete account of Pulad's reign from her arrival. From a historical perspective, her life is an incredible feat of Irony: She is responsible for our deep and all encompassing view of Pulad's Alania, and yet shortly after she left Mystras it was burn to the ground by an Arabic fleet. We know everything about her later life, but nothing about her earlier one - bar what she refers to. The first entry is May 16th, 1101, and is a reflection of what she has left behind as she reaches the eastern coast of the Black Sea on her way to the port at Azak.

She rode with an escort from Azak to Maghas to find that her betrothed, King Pulad, was off on campaign. As much as I want to go into the stories she recorded and the customs she observed, I do have to teach you only what you actually NEED to know, so I'll have to gloss over important details. She was treated well and seems to have adapted to her new life by the time her husband to be returned in August, boasting of a direct defeat of a Jewish revolt. This is a... ahhh I don't know if I have time to go into details.... damn it I'll just have to skim. Basically, this is the first time that the Jews of Itil are completely and indisputedly shown rebelling against the Alanian monarch, and it is a definate signpost of times to come. He boasts 'reclaiming' the region of the Ryn Desert as well, which implies that at one point Kuddana could claim that region as his own.


Pulad's early realm, including the Ryn Desert, which is on the far right.

Alexandria describes Pulad as an increasingly fanatical yet handsome young man, with a cold stare and hard set features. His main focusses in those first years, she recounts, was glory and the church. And she also spends many, MANY pages complaining about his constant attempts at attaining heirs. By 1107? Six children. I think we can all imagine how exhausted she must have felt by then, but of course he didn't spend all of his time dealing with the children. He was faced throughout the period with the realisation that many members of his court were Judaists under cover - of which most went into hiding when on the morning of April 27th 1102, he began beheading them wherever he found them. With his position secure by the birth of his firstborn Aspar that afternoon (truely Pulad was a man with very medieval priorities), he decided to stop killing his generals and start campaigning instead. This, incidently, is another moment in Alanian history which signifies a huge but subtle shift in focus for the Ephraimid dynasty - he turned his attention to the realms south of the Caucasus.

The south at this time was dominated by several Muslim warlords affiliated with the Seljuk Dynasty, and had been busy destroying the few Armenian dynasties. When they turned their attention to Georgia, then arrived at a perfect time to crush it under foot. Seeing oppertunity, Pulad rode south and beseiged Imereti, the former Georgian capital which had been conquered by the invading Muslim Sheiks. Over the next three years, he and Alexandria essentially toured and took the region one stone fort at a time. These permenant emplacements must have made an impression, as he ordered one built at Maghas as soon as he returned home in 1105. And he returned home having conquered half of Georgia. Both the initiation of a permanent symbol of power, the first of its kind in Alania and the domination of Georgia would help shape future events - so keep them in mind.

By 1107, Pulad is at his height. He is a successful conquerer, a well liked ruler of his realm, he has 6 sons and a daughter and he has a loving wife. Ignoring the intermittent revolt by the Jews of Itil and the Ryn Desert, his realm is stable. Next time, we'll go from several mistakes and character flaws all the way towards ignomany and the succession. Don't forget your midterms! Any Questions?
 
Last edited:

unmerged(127999)

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That professor is awesome, I gotta say. Anyway, Pulad seems like a formidable figure; fathering 6 sons and conquering half of Georgia; and that's not even including the fact that he's finally created a stone fortress in Alania.

Excellent update, and great maps!
 

Chalkface

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Thanks Splendid Tuesday! He is a pretty badass figure, I honestly expected him to be an empire builder of sorts when I was playing him... but events can cause all kinds of havoc, huh. Still, he's very important and I'm having a lot of fun writing about him.

Not sure how the maps are coming out in this next update, trying new things but they look a little messy to me. Ah well, they are a WIP.
 

Chalkface

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Pulad Ephraimid Part II

Alright ladies and gentlemen, sorry I am late. First thing to address: I've been getting emails about the midterm results. You did this midterm yesterday, folks. It is not possible that I could have marked them all simply because I am not superman. I am sorry if this is a fact we should have established earlier in the course, but there it is. For the love of the lord, please leave your emails until after I specifically tell you the results have all been sent out. We'll spend some time the lesson afterwards talking about your results. Honest. So, the reign of Pulad.

Where did we leave off... Oh, right. Now for dramatic reasons I had decided to tell you 1107 was the height of Pulads reign and that nothing was going on, and frankly that isn't a clean cut distinction that happens in history. In May of 1106 he managed to get himself into a fight with the Byzantine Empire over control of the port at Azak. The issue seems to have started when the Prince-Bishop of the religious lands around Duna and Azak was killed, and within the region there was much conflict about his successor. News of the disruption reached the court of King Pulad and he decided that it was his responsibility to decide between the candidates. By the time he arrived though, it became clear that a representative of the Patriarch had arrived from Constantinople and had made the decision for him. Pulad however, favoured the other candidate - as is usually the case with conflicts between church and state. The discussion turned to argument quickly, and Pulad eventually decided it would be best if the patriarchs representative were to leave immediately. The representative of course thought otherwise, and tried to use the Patriachs will in order to make Pulad back down. His Byzantine guards were cut down and he was sent sailing back to Constantinople with a bloody nose. While the resulting conflict was certainly no massive war between the two sides - it was mostly attempted raiding by Byzantine ships for two years until they gave up - it drove a wedge between the local church and Pulad. The wedge was mainly consisted of the patriarchs preferred candidate, who came into power anyway due to his replacements death. This man described himself as the Prince Bishop of Azak, and set up the Bishophric of Duna just across the river for a loyal supporter. Now Pulad had angry religious leaders controlling his entrance to the Black Sea.


Map of the Major Internal groups that the King had to deal with.

This was only he start of his problems. Alexandra makes specific note of an event in January 1109 in which Pulad, returning to Maghas after a frustrating meeting with the Prince Bishop, passed through a tribal village in Adyghe. The details are sketchy and heavily biased for reasons that are about to become apparent, but they displeased him by not showing proper honour to him as king. She watched in horror as he torched the town and started killing people with his own sword. Why did he do this? Our records from before do not particuarly paint him as a paranoid or sociopathic man, and this almost jarring change of personality is almost disturbing. Perhaps it was a VERY frustrating meeting. Perhaps they made a religious slight against him. We simply don't know. Then again, it is very much possible that this didn't happen at all. You see after this point Alexandra becomes very, very critical of Pulad, over time seeming to be more and more disgraced by his every action. Admittedly, his actions become worse over time as well, but her anger starts before his visable faults do - even including this. By March that same year, she absolutely hates him.

Now Pulad had always been a pious figure before 1109, but something seems to have snapped. Maybe it was the conflict with the church, but he had apparently quickly submersed himself in sin though the beginning of the year. In early february his court suffers a scandal in which a Jewish girl, who in all accounts claimed to be in sexual relations with Pulad himself, attempted to kill another. The girl she tried to kill was apparently a target for being the 'new' plaything of the King. Pulad tellingly had them both executed the very next day for heresy. The interesting details that emerge when you cross reference the monstic records from Humraj and Kakheti (albeit years later), show that this first jewish girl had been paid several significant sums of money by Pulad before her execution. Simply put, he had been extorted for sex by a young 'heretical' girl, and then when he tried to replace her the girl was willing to murder her successor to prevent it. Wow. The fallout for this is that his wife turns against him fully and begins to quietly plot. The church doesn't know what to think - on one hand he was convorting with teenage heretical harlots, on the other hand he killed them. In this, it largely splits into individual discretion, the most important of which happens in the summer when the Prince Bishop of Azak denounces Pulad and calls him out for this misdemeanors. Pulad rides for war.

With 7,000 men he travels to Azak and, after a brief battle with the local soldiers, beheads the Prince Bishop personally. He then rides north and drops the head at the feet of the Bishop of Duna, before returning home. Alexandra makes consistant assertions that he was making bastards with every camp following whore with his army during this brief campaign, but at this point her accusations and record become suspect. In September, when the Jews in Itil revolt, he rides again and she accuses again. Pulad kills a random collection of important looking Jews (his better judgement likely clouded) and returns home before winter sets in, content wth a job well done. His position is still reletively secure, he is discredited but he has easily defeated anyone who actively accused him of any other than being a 12th century Saint. After winter however, the military situation becomes dire, and Pulad faces the biggest military crisis of his reign.


Map of the Neighbouring power groups.

It starts in July 1110. The Chief of the Cumans - if you remember they were the tribe who were torn apart by Yasynya Ephraimid - asked for help against the Bulgars. The Bulgars were a reletively recent Kipchak tribe to reach power, and had spread over a very large region of modern south Russia. As a contending regional power, albeit probably weaker than the Alans, the Bulgars were one of the neighbouring groups Pulad had always seemed to be planning to fight, but never got around to it. Now they were being given to him with a fantastically pious Casus Bellum. In short order he had rallied a force of 12,000 to 20,000 Alanian horsemen, depending on the historical record used - the modern estimate puts them at 14,000. By the time he had taken them to the Don and was preparing to cross and march north, he found himself being attacked on a completely different front. With little warning, a Russian army under the Prince of Cheringov had arrived outside the fort of Duna and begun a seige. I can see a few of you wondering where on earth that came from! Well we beleive the Prince was simply an opportunist, as we have failed to determine any more complex motives he could have had. He saw Alania as being led by a strong but unpopular leader, and decided that if he could just beat this Pulad, he could gain power over the entire region as people flocked to his banner. Well, no-one said he was very well informed.

Nonetheless, we are going to have to leave it here. I really wanted to get further, but you guys had to let me keep talking about Pulad's sexual habits, didn't you. It's going to get worse, I'll warn you now. I don't know what exactly went wrong for his personal life but it caused a paradigm shift which is going to cause severe problems down the line. Thats for next time, however, and hopefully that time we will finish his reign fully. Any questions?
 
Last edited:

JackTheRipper21

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Yeah this section is sometimes... well dead since the game is rather old and not bustling like the newer sections. However I have been reading too albiet not commenting. I like how you approach the AAR as a historical lecture rather than as a narrative or character driven story. Anyway keep it up!
 

Tufto

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Wow, nice work with the Alans. You certainly have made something of such a small realm.