“Blood and Iron”
|Category: Moralistic Democracy|
Regional Influence: Handshaker
Location: The Coalition of Democratic Nations
Senate and Freeborn Landholders of Ephyra
Ever For Our Honour (English)
Territorial extent of the Freehold
Ephyra, known more formally as the Senate and Freeborn Landholders of Ephyra (SFLE), informally as the Freehold, and by outsiders as the Ephyral Empire, is a sovereign state operating as a continuous unitary republic, recognised as a regional power in south-eastern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. Internally stratified with regards to its territorial designation, Ephyra does not fit the definition of a nation-state, with the political identity of the state directly linked to the capital city of Ephyra. In this manner, Ephyra operates akin to classical city-state republics, though it commands a significant portion of land as far west as the site of old Carthage, east to the Zagros, south to the Nile, and north to the Caucasus and south-east of Europe. These territorial dominions are organised into provinces, and internally divided between sites and land component to the core essence of the Ephyral state, and settlements subject to the authority of said state. Its territory grants it total control over the eastern half of the Mediterranean, although this authority is sometimes challenged, as well as control over the vital strait from the Mediterranean Sea into the Indian Ocean. In total, the SFLE commands some 5 million square kilometres of land, and as of 1950, is home to over 91 million people of varying social class and ethno-religious origin.
The SFLE is a self-styled 'freehold', a republic acknowledging the state as a matter of public interest and affairs, affording power to direct it (via suffrage) to freeborn citizen landholders (freeholders). Operating a mixed government, the office of archon serves as the annually elected head of government and state. Held by a single individual at a time, the office represents the sole power of monarchy. The Senate of the Freeborn Landholders, serving as a legislative body of significant power and authority, represents aristocracy in the mixed government, with sitting senators given a seat after serving their term in the lowest rung on the political ladder. The Assembly or Symposium functions for the democratic will, and is the machine through which the freeholders exercise their direct political authority. These respectively serve as the one, the few, and the many, adopted in political philosophy from the Classical era to prevent the degeneration of any one form into their corrupt state. Collectively, the state could be identified as a unitary timocratic republic, with notions of honour and virtue dominating action in the citizen classes, particularly the freeholders and the social elite. Civic virtues and duties dominate the idea of citizenship, which is regarded as a set of duties first and a set of rights second.
The 91 million people who reside in Ephyra are no homogeneous group. Ephyral 'nationality' is a concept of no definition within the political reality of the state itself, for Ephyra is not a true nation. The identity of Ephyral is reserved solely for those who possess Ephyral citizenship in one of two forms; the freeholder or the dependants. The former of these designations are reserved exclusively for adult citizen males of sufficient property who, after performing service to the state, are granted the political right of suffrage and possibly to stand for office. Citizen dependants constitute adult males still living under the house of their father (and subsequently subject to his legal power), adult males without sufficient property, adult males who have not completed a service to the state, males below the age of majority, and all women and girls regardless of age or status. Non-citizens comprise a broad array of statuses, including holders of the Lykosian rights (a form of semi-citizenship), citizens of allied states, foreigners and their descendants, residents of provincial federates, residents of provincial tributaries, freedpersons, and slaves. In ethnic diversity, Ephyra polls high. Selians, the native ethnicity (a self-styled race) of the land of Selia, in which the city of Ephyra resides and where the state of Ephyra was established, do not comprise an overall majority due to expansionism and conquest of foreign lands, but are not demographically insignificant owing to their colonisation of these lands to further their own race. Ethnic Selians dominate most political offices.
Various ethnicities from Europe, Asia, and Africa, including but not limited to; Slavs, Arabs, Armenians, Turks, Persians, Berbers, Romanians, all reside in Ephyra, and none are confined to any particular social class. Though no state-operated form of racial or ethnic discrimination is active, non-Selian groups are categorised in blocs by the Selians as 'barbarians', regarded as dumb, cruel, effeminate, unhygienic, and a variety of other negatives, though individuals from these groups who embrace Selian social mores and make every effort to live as the Selians do are acknowledged with due respect, and these non-Selians can become citizens. An affinity for blood however exists amongst many Selians, who regard the peoples of west Asia and Europe as closer in stock to their own race than the more disparate peoples of east Asia or south of the Sahara, who at best are seen as far more troublesome to civilise, and at worse fit for nothing but slavery. In religion, the state endorses only the cults to the traditional ancestral gods of the Selian race, mandating participation in their feast days and festivals to maintain divine peace between the gods and the state. Though religious syncretism with fellow pagans fostered tolerance and mutual respect amongst various subjects, the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have all clashed with this model, rejecting the existence of the gods of Selia and in the case of the latter two, proselytising their own faith. Inter-religious conflict, persecutions, and accusations of the capital crime of atheism continue to flare up from time to time, as pagans battle monotheists and the monotheists battle each other. Presently, a system of monotheistic taxation allows the members of these three faiths to practice in return for paying an annual tax on their faith, and a ban on proselytising.
The civic virtue rooted at the heart of Ephyral political identity, descended from the native Selian culture, promotes an idea of collectivism amongst the citizenry, subordinating individual interests and concerns to the good of the community and the state, the latter being regarded as the manifest political will of all its citizens as per the ideal of res publica. Classical and Renaissance political theory and philosophy lent itself to the formation of the modern Ephyral state in 1626 alongside the still-strong philosophy coined as Classicalism. In function and intent therefore, Ephyra is distinct from virtually all of its contemporaries. Its society is driven strongly by ideas of honour - for which its citizens will engage in physical confrontation and even die to retain - and is fiercely conservative and moralistic, shunning, ostracising, or in some cases enabling financial or even physical punishment upon transgressors of its strict mores. This is often manifest without the involvement of the state directly due to the preponderance of the idea of family, with each citizen family in essence operating as an autonomous state, ruled by a family head with varying legal power over all of its members. Strong social emphasis on political duties is divided by gender, with all able-bodied citizen males regarded as the 'militia' of the state, who should be willing to fight to defend the state as their foremost duty - whilst it is the duty of citizen women to procreate with these men through legitimate marriage.
Ephyra's power on the world stage, though not supreme, is nothing to be dismissed. Able to exercise diplomatic and political soft power over many less significant states, as well as being a source of concern and consideration for numerous other powers, the Freehold reinforces this soft power with a sizeable, well-funded, and socially venerated military. Reformed in the last twenty years, the military of the Freehold places significant emphasis on naval power projection and terrestrial warfare, with considerably reduced though not altogether absent aerial power. Calling upon citizen volunteer soldiers, veteran elites, and provincial auxiliaries, the Freehold's sheer size is a testament to its prior military domination, whilst its modern reform guarantees the ability of the Ephyral to defend their homeland and as importantly, project power unto others.
I | Etymology
II | History
...1 | Recent history
III | Geography
...1 | Climate and biomes
IV | Demographics
...1 | Population
...2 | Civic demographics
...3 | Language
...4 | Religion
......4.1 | Religious tolerance
...5 | Race and ethnicity
...6 | Largest cities
V | Government
...1 | Foreign relations
...2 | Law
...3 | Policy
...4 | Administration and provinces
...5 | Military
VI | Economy
VII | Culture
VIII | Infrastructure
...1 | Energy
The site upon which the city of Ephyra - heart and capital of the modern Freehold - now stands is believed by historians and archaeologists to have been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years, with sporadic prior habitation largely assumed. Though mythology and legend suppose a founding of the city some time in the 13th or 12th centuries BC by the culture-hero Lykos, Ephyra had already achieved significance in the late bronze age by this time, organised around a palace complex like many of its contemporaries. The violent collapse of the bronze age in the 12th century may or may not have seen the destruction of Ephyra by the Sea Peoples or by Kolkosian migrants, but population and economic decline is known. Iron Age Ephyra, divided between the Ancient and Classical Era, became one of the most significant cities in the world for culture, education, philosophy, and politics.
The golden age of Ephyra arose in the 5th century BC, where the city-state obtained political hegemony over its neighbours alongside economic growth and a flourishing of culture and learning. This golden age however would be terminated by numerous and costly wars with various rival city-states, and eventually the Achaemenid Persian Empire (during the course of which, Ephyra would be sacked more than once). Ephyra became subject to the Arconians in the 4th century BC, and its soldiers participated in an all-Selian war against the Persians led by the Arconian kingdom, a war which saw the destruction of the Persian Empire and the rise of the Arconian successor states following the dissolution of its empire to the infighting of generals-turned-kings. Ephyra would retain significant degrees of independence in both this new Selianistic Era under a much decreased Arconian state, and again under the administration of the Roman Republic turned Empire, a foreign state which would have tremendous impact on the cultural evolution and political innovations of future Selian states including Ephyra itself, and which was itself influenced by Selian manners and customs.
After Roman collapse, Ephyra capitalised on its prior autonomy to quickly establish not only independence but a small league of allies under its hegemony known as the Rhyosian League. The League contended with the rising power of Mantar, another Selian state, from Asia Minor, denying Mantar conquest of southern Selia until the 7th century AD, when defeat at the Battle of Gossis forced the League's capitulation and dissolution. Remaining a subject of Mantar for the next five centuries, the city's next surge for independence occurred during the dying empire's contention with eastern threats including the Mongols. Much reduced, Ephyra was only able to establish control over its local region of Lykosia, forming the Lykosian League as a means of defence against its other Selian rivals.
Whilst many of the Selian-ruled states succeeding Rome fell to the Muslim Arabs and the Mongols, never to return in their prior form, Selia proper endured. Internally however, bitter and brutal wars were waged between ever-shifting alliances. Ephyra was no different, and its power waxed and waned over the next four centuries. July 5th 1626 was the day of significant change. Valaemedes Anogarios Artalos, a general with the personal loyalty of his army, and the support of the people of Ephyra, successfully overthrew the ineffectual oligarchy that had governed the city. Known today as the First Cultural Revolution, it was one of the major acts of the wider Selian Renaissance, a revival of ancient Selian art, literature, and philosophy across the local region. Ephyra, living up to the past it was rediscovering, became a hub of the Renaissance, with Artalos reviving ideals of classical republicanism, civic virtue, honour, property, and martial exellence, finally implementing himself as archon with popular support. His reforms were vast, inspired by both ancient Ephyral democracy and Roman military and political concepts. New laws in the Artalos Code laid out the rights, responsibilities, and protections of Ephyra's revitalised citizen population. A resurgent behaviour on precedent was established, the birth of a new social mores inspired by the old. On July 16th 1626 the Senate and Freeborn Landholders of Ephyra was proclaimed into existence.
Under what became the perennial Archonship of Artalos, Ephyra achieved through the diplomatic expansion of the Lykosian League in conjunction with military conquest a gradual domination of Selia, Ephyralising conquered Selians and bringing them under an identity ignorant of the tribal sub-divisions of their race. The Lykosian League's original definition was rendered obsolete when member-states were given citizenship prior to Artalos' death on May 11th 1653, with the rights and duties of those states carrying on in legal terminology into the semi-citizen Lykosian class. The new Senate of Ephyra, comprised of elite family heads, conferred perennial Archonship twice more; on Daenegon Kelerios Araenor, and Kymidon Eresios Raheris. After Raheris' term, marred by incompetence and unaccountable decision making, the authority of the office of Archon was limited by demand of the Symposium of the Freeborn Landholders, who also won the right to annually elect three Freeholder Delegates who could by their own internal vote, veto the actions of the higher elected officials including the archon (but not the emergency office of archon dictator). The term of office was also reduced to ten years, however by 1795, all offices followed suit of the Freeholder Delegates and became subject to annual election. A political ladder and age requirements in the style of the Roman Republic were also implemented by this time, and it is this system which persists today.
Traditions of marital prowess and maritime excellence were resurgent in the 17th and 18th centuries as the Freehold's expansion out of Selia focused on coastal domination, with interior conquests mandated as the circumstances dictated. Extensive slave-raids along both the eastern and western Mediterranean saw a rise in the significance of chattel in trade and commerce. The reordered armies of Ephyra, coupled with a swiftly built large and powerful navy, granted it command of the Mediterranean long before all the lands surrounding its eastern half fell to the Freehold. Centuries of expansion and conflict elevated in Ephyral social and religious consciousness a reverence for war waged correctly and decisively. The two most major military setbacks before the 19th century were a failed invasion of Egypt and Pontus, however the former of these eventually fell.
The 19th century saw military and economic decline due to the crippling of the slave-trade by separate wars with Washington in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and the Russian Empire in the east. Economic prosperity fell and corruption amongst elected officials grew. This state of decline would continue, marked by internal rebellions and ever more gradual provincial autonomy threatening to break up the increasingly bloated and inept Freehold until the middle of the 20th century.
The Freehold is one of the geographically larger nations of the world, boasting over 5 million square kilometres of control across land in three continents. Though the core heartland of the Freehold, Selia, is located entirely within Europe, the bulk of the Freehold's authority lies upon land in Asia. Asia Minor and Anatolia to the Zagros mountains fall under the Freehold's law and administration, as well as south across the Levant and into Arabia. West across the Sinai, Ephyra's African possessions extend as far as the former power of Carthage, whilst journeying south from the Nile keeps one in Freehold land as far as the south-eastern tip of the Sahara desert. European control extends north of Selia itself, in the lands of Thrace and Illyria.
The scale of the Freehold's control emphasises maritime superiority, as the entirety of the eastern Mediterranean finds itself surrounded by land under the banner of Ephyra. Territorial penetration into Africa is limited, with control of the coast along the Mediterranean and Red Sea having taken greater priority. Inland control of Anatolia is near-total with the exception of the neighbouring power of Pontus, whilst the Fertile Crescent finds itself entirely under the administration of the Freehold.
Two significant states share a land border with Ephyra; Pontus and Russia. Whilst numerous less significant states dot Ephyra's extensive borders along Africa, Asia, and Europe, many of these find themselves under the Freehold's sphere of influence. The Black Sea is shared with tension between Pontus, Russia, Karthspire, and Ephyra. Relations with these neighbouring states is variable, with Pontus having emerged as an ally, and Karthspire and Russia reviled as long-time enemies.
Civic demographics in the Freehold are the assessment of social class (as opposed to economic) by percentage. These are Ephyral citizens, Lykosian semi-citizens, foreign-born / -descended metics, provincials, and slaves. All legal residents of the Freehold hold one of these five statuses, which serve as substitute for the concept of nationality through citizenship, as many of the residents of the Freehold hold no citizenship in any nation, but are not stateless as a result of this system. Whilst these broader camps can be broken down internally either by an official or unofficial means, the five serve as they are to indicate the general rights and responsibilities of a given person in the Freehold.
As of 1950, 22% of the Freehold's population hold Ephyral citizenship, granting them as a bloc the highest rights and privileges in Ephyra. A further 24% of residents hold the rights of Lykosia, meaning that 46% of the population total hold at least partial citizenship within the Freehold. Lykosians have been the fastest growing group for a while, due to both birth rates and the regular elevation of non-Lykosian communities to that status. 8% of the Freehold's residents are foreign-born, or descended from accepted foreigners. The largest single group are the provincials, conquered peoples and their descendants, who make up 32% of the population - afforded in effect the basic rights regarded in the Roman-inspired Ephyral legal and philosophical concept of the law of all peoples. Finally, the remaining 14% of residents belong to members of the other four as slaves, lacking even the basic legal standing of personhood under the law of all peoples afforded to non-citizen free-born foreigners.
The official language of the state and the encouraged primary language of all citizens is that of Ephyral High Selian. The Selian languages are in the modern era a fairly diverse group, formed into dialects of mutually intelligibility but with grammatical and lexicon differences, often impacted by the native languages of their prevalent regions. Mastery of a Selian language is considered to be the basis for Ephyral citizenship through speaking the language of the civilised, but of these, it is the language native to the city of Ephyra and its surrounding regions which is regarded as the purest strain. This is by fact of monopoly if nothing else, for Pontic Selian is both a dialect in the Freehold and the national language of the neighbouring realm of Pontus, no less a Selian-descended language than Ephyral (itself influenced by other languages like Latin), the Pontic being a people who are Selian in blood and language, but are unsubscribed to the Ephyral self-definition of Selian ethnos.
Other dialects of Selian, collectively known as the 'Low Selian dialects' in contrast to the 'higher' nature of Ephyral Selian, include the aforementioned Pontic Selian spoken in the Caucasus region, Kemetic Selian in north Africa, Anatolian Selian in Asia Minor, and Syriac Selian in the fertile crescent. European speakers of Selian are primarily speakers of Ephyral High Selian. The Low Selian dialects collectively make up the most common spoken languages, used by Lykosians and by many provincials as a lingua franca due to its ease of communication to other languages. It's believed that at least 60-65% of the population are speakers of at least one Selian language.
Non-Selian languages remain prevalent however, spoken either as an only language or as a part of a bilingual exercise by residents of the Freehold. The most significant of these in numbers is Arabic and its own dialects, spoken from Mesopotamia with the Syriac Selian speakers, to north Africa and the Kemetic Selian speakers. Indeed, language learning has gone both way, and Ephyral citizens of higher wealth in these lands often have their children educated in the local Arabic dialect as a tertiary language to Ephyral High Selian and the Low Selian dialect locally used.
Language has a strong cultural importance to the Ephyral as it was to the ancient Selians, as it is through use of the same tongue that a ground of common values can be based, for the nature of languages leads to an emphasis that is not translatable even if the word is. To be able to speak the way the Ephyral citizens do is an essential part of Selianisation, and native elites of conquered territory made it their business to learn it or teach it to their children to advantage themselves in the new system, benefiting from the Freehold's lack of direct intervention in provincial communities whilst providing a passive cultural conversion incentive to the people they have influence over.
The Freehold is home to a broad variety of religions and belief systems, of which some are similar and some are not. The state religion, and sole religion officially endorsed by the state, is the officially nameless faith native to Selia, known by foreigners as Selian polytheistic paganism, Selian paganism, or Ephyral paganism interchangeably. This faith as the name states is polytheistic, cultivating worship to a broad pantheon of gods organised into groups of major and minor and familial structures, often possessing influence or domain over an abstract idea or essence of nature. The nature of this religion is bizarre to the understanding of those raised in Abrahamic religions, as the relationship between gods and people is similar in effect to the patron-client relationship, emphasising sacrifice and correct ritual and prayer as opposed to faith and supplication, with excessive devotion to the gods regarded as an act of impiety.
The Ephyral state is not secular, and the state's health is irremovable from religious conduct. Whilst there are few actual religious laws, and religion serves as a means to reinforce moral guides as opposed to having any sacred texts establishing them, the cultural focus on the conduct of the state can be viewed as a type of ritual, such as in elections, inaugurations, and more, whilst the Ephyral word for duty to one's family and honour is the same for obligations to the gods. Religious practice therefore is aimed at maintaining the divine peace between the Ephyral state and the gods, who receive contractual sacrifice and cultivation and in return variably grant the state favour, or simply withhold any form of retribution. In this way, the Ephyral can be considered a highly superstitious people, although the Ephyral translation of such a word is an accusation of improper ritual and impiety.
Co-existing with Selian paganism are the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam, both of which have been declining under Ephyral rule. More ethnically specific faiths such as Judaism, and importantly polytheistic ones such as native Assyrian, Arabic, and north African have been on the rise, tolerated and even promoted by the Ephyral state for the purpose of religious syncretism; with the gods of these other faiths incorporated into the Selian pantheon, and local religious practice encouraged so long as it remains inoffensive to the Ephyral gods. A refusal of religious assimilation by the monotheists however has led to repeated internal and external religious conflict, mutual persecutions, and unrest for the past three centuries of the Freehold's existence with Jews, Christians, and Muslims obligated to pay a tax to the funding of Ephyra's pagan temples in lieu of the necessary religious observances practised by the believers of the Ephyral gods and their fellow pagans.
Other minority faiths include Buddhism, Yazidi, and Zoroastrianism.
With the great variation of religions in Ephyra, and the internal divisions of many of them, the question of religious tolerance and co-existence is a complicated one. The Ephyral state maintains no blanket policy, but addresses religions by classification. Of traditional faiths bound to a specific people group, the state is not only tolerant but encouraging of the maintaining of their religious practises so long as no conflict with the gods of Ephyra is raised. This is achieved through religious syncretism, with the gods of pagans and polytheists in the Freehold incorporated into the pantheon often as aspects or kin of the native Selian gods, identified by their sphere such as war, justice, love, the seas, or the sky. Through the practice of their cults, and the incorporation of native Selian feast days and festivals into their own practises, these peoples contribute to the divine peace, the maintaining of relations between the humans and the gods. This serves the state, as the maintaining of the divine peace is regarded as intrinsically linked to the health of the Ephyral state.
The religious syncretism works two ways, as the population conquered may derive aspects from Selian gods or the gods of fellow conquered pagans and place them in their own religion, fusing and making common between ethnically varied populations a worship and cultivation to the gods of Ephyra. It is with the monotheists however that the Freehold has great issue from a practical perspective, and the Ephyral people have issue from a socioreligious one. The Selian ruled empires of the past in the Middle East found great issue ruling over the monotheistic Jewish people, who refused to acknowledge the existence of the Ephyral gods and consequently resisted religious assimilation, rendering them an 'other' culture particularly in regards to their other customs, such as abstaining from the consumption of pig-based food and circumcision, both of which alienated the Jews from the Selian ruling class and other ruled peoples. Wars, persecutions, rebellions, and general violence plagued Selian-Jewish relations until the conquest of both by the Romans, from whom the religious policy of the Freehold is greatly inspired by.
In the modern Freehold, the Jewish faith is tolerated as a faith of a native people, bound to them, and the state permits it to exist in this fashion. Jews are however obligated to pay a tax in substitution for their refusal to cultivate to the Ephyral gods, and the social attitude to Judaism in the Freehold is one of thinly veiled contempt or denigration. This includes inter-faith relations, particularly with Judaism's fellow Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam. Christianity was the first religion with which the modern Freehold had contact, and a long history of violence has followed. Though Christianity shares with Judaism its refusal to cultivate to other gods on the basis of refusing that they exist, and its similar assertion of the exclusive sovereignty of a one God conflicting with the Ephyral demand of the highest loyalty being to the state, it lacks the redeeming quality of being a peopled religion. Christianity's propensity to proselytise and convert is especially reviled, as it is seen to drive those who convert to hate their ancestors and the gods of their ancestors, completely counter to Ephyral social and religious views of ancestor worship and veneration, the same reason that fellow pagan faiths are promoted.
Christians are also liable to pay a tax, and are further prohibited from proselytising. Christians, like Jews who refused to pay their tax, and later Muslims who are considered to fall under the same classification as Christianity, are liable to face charges of atheism for neither demonstrating loyalty to the Ephyral state through practising of the state religion via participation in feast days or festivals, or paying the owed taxes that are demanded in lieu of this loyalty. A charge of atheism is not a measure of belief, but inaction. Anyone so charged with atheism can dispel the charges immediately by paying the tax owed if of an applicable faith, or by offering cult to the gods of Ephyra. A refusal to do either shall be met with a verdict of guilt, and the punishment death.
Like Judaism, Christianity and Islam are religions considered superstition in Ephyral discourse, improper and secretive, subversive to the social order and disloyal to the Freehold. Open adherents are often shunned and distrusted by not only Ephyral pagans but fellow pagans. There have been few instances of a state sanctioned persecution of any faith in the Freehold, but outbreaks of violence against them are not unheard of, including in recent years. Religious tolerance in the Freehold is a matter of significant complexity, for it can exist in great abundance or total absence.
ADMINISTRATION AND PROVINCES