Sketch of the Mythology

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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:40 am

...so what the hell is this?

That's the question that I've long worried that people will ask when they see this. It's been three years this month (there are 20 minutes left in January in my time zone!) since I posted any fiction on here. Most of my attempts at writing fiction since then have been Forumshire-related, and increasingly they have centered around an elaborate and detailed version of it. This grew out of my early attempts at worldbuilding for The Needlehole Mysteries, but began as part of a different fanfic project (never completed) and went in a very different direction. It is not a satirical or comedic take on the forum: for better or worse I've been striking out with my attempts at those lately. Rather, it's an exercise in worldbuilding. Hopefully it'll be at least somewhat enjoyable nonetheless.

Trying to fit all of my ideas into a finished narrative would require a massive novel which is well beyond my ability at this point. I have tried to tease small individual stories out of this world and may post some of them if I ever get them into a shape I'm happy with. However, even the little stories are dependent on the overall context for the reader to really understand what is going on, so I think there might be some benefit to having an overview of everything posted (in addition to it being easier for me to write). "Sketch of the Mythology" is the name for Tolkien's first outline of the whole Silmarillion, and since this is a very rough draft as well as a work in progress, I don't want to dignify it with a title like "Quenta Forumshira" or any of the other ones I've been considering just yet.

While a lot of these ideas have been present in my head and in various Word documents since summer 2013, I just wrote the first two sections posted below in the past several hours. I did proofread them but I probably missed stuff, so if you see any errors or oddities please point them out. Anyway, this is my first serious attempt at smoothing out all the inconsistencies and getting a single written version of the whole story, even in summary form. I'm sure it will take a long while, but I figured I might as well post bits and pieces of it here. I don't know if I'll post them all in strict chronological order, so I'll add a table of contents to this post eventually. One day I might go back and do a more fleshed out version of the whole thing and/or post side-essays elaborating on various people and events referred to in this sketch.

There's a lot of backstory and history right off the bat but I'll try to mix it up with anecdotes and short narratives. It's all driving towards an account of the Dark Planet's annexation of Bree and the subsequent Forumshire Revolution, and then all sorts of conflict and politicking and other shenanigans. As we get further along there will be more detailed notes on various characters and relationships as well.

This work is dedicated to Amarië, who never stopped asking for more political stories. Well, here you go. Kissing


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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:40 am

OF THE HISTORY OF HOBBITIA

The island of Hobbitia runs some 1200 miles from north to south, and is roughly 200 miles from east to west at its widest point. It is bisected by the Central Mountains, which run north to south for most of the island's length. Hobbitia lies to the west of the continent of Reuelea, which was the origin of civilization in that part of the world. At the mid-point of Hobbitia, it is separated by Reuelea by several hundred miles of sea, but to the south the two are much closer as a large peninsula of Reuelea extends to the west. In the north, the two landmasses are not quite as close, but there are several large islands in between that allow for easier sea travel. The northern extremes of both lands, as well as these islands, are primarily inhabited by the culturally distinct Fjordians.

The origins of Reuelean civilization are poorly documented and largely shrouded in myth, but it is clear that this history extends back thousands of years. Much of the recorded history of ancient times was lost in the wars and upheavals surrounding the Great Schism (c. 980) that resulted in the formation of the New Church and its revised theology. In the following centuries, the New Church became the dominant form of religion in Reuelea, and its adherents (initially termed “revisionists”) so common that the it was adherents of the Old Church who needed a specific label: “purist”. The traditional purist form of worship was largely restricted to the rural margins of the continent, but it would be the subject of great interests from romantics, artists, and some intellectuals in the 19th century, which led to the phenomenon of modern purism.

Most of the Middle Ages of Reuelea was a time of consolidation, as various feudal holdings came together into kingdoms and some eventually into empires. The first true empire following the Great Schism was the Empire of TORC, which was founded in 1046 by Emperor Jonathan. It was later displaced as the dominant power by the Empire of the Plaza (founded 1214 by Emperor Philip) in the 16th century. One of the oldest states in Reuelea was the Kingdom of TORn, founded in 1018, though it did not become an empire until much later.

Unlike Reuelea, the island of Hobbitia was sparsely populated for most of its history, and remained divided into petty kingdoms until after the arrival of conquerors from overseas. In the south, TORn built their first settlement in Hobbitia in 1599, and expanded gradually through expanding their influence, using trade to their advantage, and only eventually taking over a kingdom directly when they had already been the true power there for some time. This approach enable them to conquer most of the southern half of the island; however, the kingdoms of Northern Hobbitia were stronger and had wised up to TORn's methods.

In the north of the island, the chieftains and later princes of Fjordlandia constituted a significant if decentralized power, establishing settlements in extreme northwest Reuelea as well as many islands throughout the inner sea, and raiding much of Hobbitia as well as TORn itself. The most successful Fjordian settlement outside of their homeland was in the RSS Isles, a small archipelago some 150 miles from mainland TORn. The chieftains of the RSS Isles mainly contented themselves with practicing piracy on the wealthy shipping of the inner sea, but one chieftain, born Adrian Calow but later known as Ady the Explorer, revived the tradition of settling and conquering new lands and founded the city of Bree on the east coast of Hobbitia in 1707, well north of the furthest point of TORn expansion at that time. Ady fended off raids from the local inhabitants and in true Fjordian fashion used many of the captives of his piracy to settle his new city.

By the mid-18th century, the other powers of Reuelea had begun to notice the growing population and wealth of Hobbitia, and became concerned about the growth of TORn's power there. When the Plaza brokered the peace between TORn and TORC after a major war in the middle of the century, the Emperor insisted on a policy of non-intervention towards the remaining independent polities in Hobbitia. TORn was allowed to keep its holdings in the south, but Northern Hobbitia became an empire-free area. The Plaza and TORC, already being great powers, were satisfied with this, but the rising TORn sought other avenues for expansion.

They found one such avenue directly to the north of them, and quickly established a trading post in the RSS Isles. The chieftains were not happy with this, so in 1771 the Empire of TORn conquered the archipelago, establishing the most friendly chieftain as Duke and the others as lesser TORn nobility. The Calow chiefancy was replaced by the Barony of Mann. Becoming vassals of TORn arguably should have forced the Calows to give up their holdings in Northern Hobbitia, but Bree was so minor at the time that no one objected strongly. Twenty years after the conquest, the Fjordians of the RSS Isles rose up against TORn, but were betrayed by Lord Brendan Calow, who hoped to be made Duke in place of the rebellious incumbent. Instead, the dukedom was abolished, the Isles integrated more firmly into TORn's empire, and the Calows elevated merely to Earl.

Furious, Lord Brendan moved the family seat to Bree the following year, taking most of his retainers with him. There, he declared himself Duke of Bree, assuming the title he had wanted, and renouncing his title (and duties) under TORn. Lawyers in the Empire concluded that there was nothing to be done about this without violating the treaty that established Northern Hobbitian neutrality, so they turned a blind eye to the new Duchy. Brendan's move inspired several other would-be adventurers, but the only successful one was the Lady Emmie, who established the Duchy of Scotia further north along the coast than Bree. To the south, several petty native kingdoms were joined together to create the Duchy of Nebelhaven, which assumed a ducal title to avoid provoking its new foreign neighbors. Bree and Nebelhaven had favorable relations for most of their mutual history.

Two other regions require mention, as they were the most successful “native” states in Northern Hobbitia. In the far north, the Princes of Fjordia continued very much as they had, though they began to band together more closely after the adjacent Reuelean territories of Fjordia were conquered by the Empire of the Plaza. (This conquest stopped short of the Hobbitian territories because of the same treaty that arrested TORn's momentum.) On the west coast, adjacent to the border with TORn, was the land of Ozhobbitstan, which was largely inhabited by exiles, criminals, and malcontents from Southern Hobbitia. They established a number of independent freeholds amongst the existing population, and eventually united to form the Republic of Ozhobbitstan.

For the first several decades after its establishment, the Duchy of Bree was a generally quiet and isolated region. The Calow Dukes considered the Duchy to be essentially their private property and since it was beyond the oversight of TORn law, they by and large did as they pleased. There were strict controls on commoners entering or leaving the Duchy, and the Dukes kept a close eye on the minor nobility and landowners. However, with the cultural upheavals of the 19th century and the increased movement of peoples, Duke Ady II saw an opportunity to increase both his prestige and his tax base by allowing immigrants to swell the population of the Duchy. In 1878, he unilaterally removed almost all controls on immigration and emigration.

The influx of immigrants grew swiftly, and began to transform the fabric of Bree society. The city itself began to grow exponentially, absorbing nearby towns like Archet and Combe into a growing metropolis. From the port, many new arrivals spread out into the countryside to farm or otherwise seek their fortunes. However, almost all of the open land near the city was already owned by the old local aristocracy, so the immigrants had to head further afield into the lightly-populated lands of Northern Hobbitia, which had never been officially part of the Duchy (though some settlement had occurred east of the Central Mountains). The native Hobbitians of the central regions either assimilated with the immigrants or fled to the remaining native enclave of Nebelhaven on the coast south of Bree. However, the expansion of Bree soon provoked conflict with the other major polities of Northern Hobbitia.

The first came with the Duchy of Scotia, the capital of which was Emmiburgh. Tension with settlers heading north from Bree became a constant issue along the poorly defined borders of the Duchy. In 1892, after the Duchess detained several citizens of Bree and refused to extradite them, Ady II declared war. His navy outclassed the Scotian one quickly and his army was able to occupy Emmiburgh with only light casualties on both sides. The Duchess went into exile in the Empire of TORC, and from then on the ducal title of Scotia was considered to be in personal union with that of Bree, although the two polities were not formally merged. Ady did, however, open Scotia and the Port of Emmiburgh to increased immigration.

Having witnessed the fate of Scotia, the Republic of Ozhobbitstan and the Princes of Fjordlandia put aside their differences and beefed up their defenses in order to hold clearly defined borders and prevent the gradual encroachment that might precede war. However, this approach backfired, as the subsequent Duke of Bree simply invented boundary disputes in order to provoke his opponents and open up even more room for expansion. This eventually escalated to outright war, and while these two more distant opponents put up a much greater fight (particularly the Fjordian navy, which won most of its engagements in the war), they were eventually overwhelmed by Bree's greater numbers. As part of the peace settlement of 1911, Ozhobbitstan and Fjordlandia remained autonomous, but they ceded their sovereignty to the Duke of Bree, who assumed the title “Protector” over both territories, and who gradually assumed more and more influence over their domestic politics in the decades to come.

The war had forced the Duke to resort to conscription to fill out his armies, a first in Hobbitian history, which greatly increased the centralized power of the ducal government in Bree. The demobilization that followed led to a partial return to normalcy, but much of the new apparatus of the state remained in place, and appointed officials in Bree increasingly called the shots in other regions of Northern Hobbitia that, in a technical legal sense, had nothing to do with Bree other than sharing a sovereign. It benefited the Dukes to preserve the fiction that Northern Hobbitia consisted of several separate polities in order to deflect international attention as well as to make it harder for political opponents to organize throughout the Duke's domains. However, dissatisfaction grew throughout the territories, and even in Bree proper, where the masses of new citizens had no connection to the aristocratic Privy Council that advised the Duke.

In 1951, the relatively liberal Duke Gavan took action to address this discontent. He formalized in law the relationship between Bree and Ozhobbitstan and Fjordlandia, and returned some of the territories' autonomy. He also established Parliaments in Bree and Scotia, which assumed many of the functions of the Privy Council as well as gaining some minor lawmaking authority, including approval of (though not changes to) the budget. They also did not appoint members of the government. However, the vast territories of the center, the Eastmarch and Westmarch, did not receive self-government. They remained largely administered by the Duke's private companies, the Eastmarch Development Corporation and the Westmarch Development Corporation, which were staffed and led by his appointees, with no connection to the government.


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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:41 am

OF THE GREAT WESTMARCH SWINDLE

The Great Westmarch Swindle and the Crime of the Century are the terms commonly applied to what was officially known as “allegations of corruption in the privatization of the Westmarch Development Corporation” (1). The full details of the affair did not come out until years later, at which point it caused a minor scandal, but was ultimately somewhat lost in the noise of greater events occuring at the time. However, in retrospect, the swindle foreshadows many of the conflicts that would define Bree for years to come, as well as establishing some of the important actors.

Footnote 1:

The sparsely inhabited regions west of the coast, south of Fjordlandia, and north of Ozhobbitstan and Nebelhaven had been the most popular destination for new immigrants, but the construction of housing and infrastructure to support them had initially been haphazard at best. To address this problem in the Eastmarch (the part of the aforementioned region that was east of the Central Mountains), which was settled first and was nearer to the older coastal cities, the Duke established the Eastmarch Development Corporation as a private joint venture with several other wealthy aristocrats, and then granted it exclusive rights to much of the land, mineral wealth, and construction permits in the territory. Settlers having no other legal choices to buy from, the company was soon turning massive profits. A few years later, as the population of the Westmarch ballooned, the Duke founded a new company for that territory alone, so as not to have to share profits with other investors.

The government reforms of 1951 had not altered the legal status of the Eastmarch and Westmarch, but since the companies were both headquartered in Bree, they were potentially subject to legal oversight from the new parliament there. However, the early legislators were unsure of how far they could go without the Duke pulling the plug on the entire experiment in self-governance, so they contented themselves with minor reforms in Bree itself. By the 1970s, however, they were more assertive, and the parliament's leaders were informally consulted on the budget even though there was no legal requirement to do so.

In 1981, Duke Gavan died and was succeeded by his son, Ady III. Neither as strong-willed or as politically savvy as his predecessor, Ady took the throne at 32, but had little practical experience in governing. When the time came to prepare the budget for the following year, he relied almost entirely on the advisors of his father, and did not object to consulting with parliament. However, dissatisfied factions in parliament sensed the new Duke's weakness, and some seized upon the opportunity thus presented.

The Speaker of Bree's parliament at that time was Peter Show, but it was well-known that his protege, James G. Beard (popularly known as G.B.) would soon succeed him. Only landowners could vote in elections, but since 1951 any amount of land would do, so the members of parliament included an assortment of aristocrats, the nouveau riche and even some from the middle class. There were informal factions but no parties, with the main dividing line being those who supported the Duke without question and those who wanted greater authority for the parliament. However, the death of Duke Gavan had thrown this system into question, as no one was quite sure what kind of duke Ady would turn out to be.

It was at this juncture that Eldorion Dunami (2) arrived on the scene in Bree. He had made a name for himself in the Plaza Empire at a very young age as a Loremaster and the driving force behind the new ideology of “scientific purism”, but he had begun branching out from academia. The Dunami family was descended from the illegitimate son of a 17th century Emperor, and had long been Barons, but they had lost their title after a failed rebellion by Eldorion's grandmother, Baroness Goldmoon Dunami. Much of the family as well as their friends and allies had participated and subsequently been exiled, though most (aside from the leaders) were allowed to return two years later, albeit at a significant cost in wealth, land, and titles. Eldorion was born to a particularly sunken branch of the family, but his intellect had won him a measure of fame and prestige, and he was now eager to add wealth to his name as well.

Footnote 2:

Eldorion came to Bree with an impressive resume and an education in political economy from the most prestigious university in Reuelea. He had first visited in 1980 and begun to ingratiate himself with members of both parliament and the government, and he stepped up these efforts following Gavan's death. During the drafting of the 1982 budget (during late 1981), he convinced several members of parliament, including G.B., to threaten to reject several tax increases that Ady's advisors sought. Parliament had no legal right to do this, but Eldorion's argument went that parliament could pass restrictive laws affecting the business of the development corporations if the Duke did not concede. In the middle of the resulting impasse, Eldorion went to the Duke's advisors and suggested that privatizing the development corporations and selling their assets off to the wealthy of Bree (who largely made up parliament) could be offered as a compromise, and that the loss of revenue from the companies would be offset by increased economic growth and thus higher taxes (not to mention the proposed new taxes).

Ady himself was skeptical of this plan, but his advisers urged him not to get into a public spat with his parliament, so he eventually agreed to the compromise. During the ensuing hashing out of details, Eldorion and MP Odo Banks ensured that Odo's father's firm, the Bank of Banks, received the contract for managing the privatizations, which gave them a cut of all the resulting sales. Most of the Eastfarthing Development Corporation went to its aristocratic co-investors, but it was decided that assets of the Westfarthing company in various industries be sold off individually to bidding firms. In return for his assistance in securing them the lucrative contract, the Bank of Banks ensured that the WDC's construction-related assets went to a number of shell companies that Eldorion had quietly established.

This went largely unnoticed at the time, as most people's attention was focused on the lucrative mineral rights and vast tracts of agricultural land at stake, but suspicions began to develop as Eldorion consolidated his new holdings into Westmarch Construction and embarked on an ambitious plan of business. He began constructing luxury properties for the nouveau riche of the territory as well as vast suburbs surrounding young cities like Michel Delving. He transformed Westport from an unremarkable fishing town into a major new center of commerce, and won contracts from the government in Bree to drastically expand and modernize the transportation infrastructure of the territory. Within 18 months he paid off the loans he had taken in order to put the plan into action, and he soon became fabulously rich. However, the amount of money he was moving overseas back to the Plaza attracted negative attention, so in 1987 he sold Westmarch Construction to a consortium of investors for an undisclosed sum and left the business world behind.

Some of the shady details of the privatization came to light in 1988, as Eldorion's political allies in Bree succeeded in pressuring Ady to grant broad new powers to parliament. Investigative reporter Chris Bulato wrote an award-winning series of articles on the affair and coined the term “Great Westmarch Swindle”, but public sympathy largely stayed with parliament due to Ady's increased heavy-handedness (which some attribute to his realization that he had been swindled). The swindle certainly accounts for much of Ady's later famous dislike for the Eldorions, but the Banks clan was able to remain in the Duke's good graces since they had by the late '80s become rivals of the reformers in parliament, and were therefore embraced by Ady as allies, although not particularly trustworthy ones.
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Post by Orwell Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:04 pm

I had a hell of a time following this, indeed, could not follow it all, but it's enthralling and fascinating and reads like real, and highly technical, actual history. More Elthir's thing than mine, I dare say, but it held me captive nonetheless. Very clever and well designed and I surely await the next instalment with baited breath. All the characters, the lineages, the countries (though Ozhobbitstan's location may be geographically dubious, but who if us can really be sure! Wink ), the sheer audacity of world building (or world realisation, because it really sounds real!) is all quite an accomplishment.

As I said: I wait for more with some avidity! The fact I can't decipher all the associations or know all the players (real or imagined???) only makes this all the more enjoyable. Very Happy

Hurrah for Eldorion!!! And any other Eldorion whose blood presumably flows in your loins, Eldo, for should not your presumed forefathers also be revered! cheers cheers

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Post by halfwise Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:37 pm

When do we get the "Concerning Needlehole" chapter?

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Post by Mrs Figg Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:08 pm

wowzer! I read all this in one go study and I have to say I WANT MORE!!!!! cheers queen

its brilliant! Razz

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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:28 pm

Thanks a bunch, guys. Smile Will try to get some more stuff expanded and polished soon.

Orwell wrote:As I said: I wait  for more with some avidity! The fact I can't decipher all the associations or know all the players (real or imagined???) only makes this all the more enjoyable.  Very Happy

Hopefully more of it will become clear as things progress. Like the actual Silmarillion, there's a lot of information to absorb right off the bat. It's very gratifying to hear that people enjoy it though. People who are familiar with the course of actual events on the forum will probably be able to predict a number of things, but I'm not trying to write a 1:1 parallel of real events, and there will be stuff that happens for plot or worldbuilding reasons instead of being an allegory. Razz

halfwise wrote:When do we get the "Concerning Needlehole" chapter?

Needlehole will not play as prominent a role in this version as it usually does, but it will show up eventually.
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Post by Mrs Figg Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:51 pm

bounce
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Post by Amarië Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:19 pm

Eldorion wrote:(...)
This work is dedicated to Amarië, who never stopped asking for more political stories. Well, here you go. Kissing

Best house warming gift ever!! cheers cheers cheers

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:19 pm

Really enjoyed reading that Eldo- though I have to say I had no idea what I was reading for a good bit of it. It seemed to come out of nowhere without a context- but looking forward to more. Nod

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Post by Orwell Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:35 pm

Our own Forumillion! cheers

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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:44 pm

Thanks Amarië. Very Happy

Fair point, Petty. I've considered writing some sort of Foreword that explains the basics of what I'm trying to do here; might still get around to that later. The basic concept is to take the fictional Forumshire setting and expand it to an entire world (or at least a significant portion of one) where our forum is a country and other countries are primarily based on other forums. There's a lot of backstory to establish (and trust me, that first chapter is only a fraction of the notes on pre-modern history I've previously written, just most of it isn't really relevant Laughing) so that there is a context for the main conflicts to occur in. I hope/think that the overarching structure of the story will become apparent in relatively short order. But there's plenty to keep in mind for revisions to this very rough draft and I appreciate feedback like yours. Smile

In any event, I am glad that you want to read more. Razz
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Post by azriel Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:50 pm

I have to say Im gobsmacked Very Happy

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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:51 pm

Hopefully in a good way. Laughing
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Post by Orwell Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:51 pm

A labour of love, I see, Eldo.  Very Happy

Have you ever, perchance, thought of creating an entirely fictional world with fictional races and flora and fauna and climate? You never know, one day you might start writing stories set in this fictional world? Tolkien did that and it didn't end up half bad. Wink

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Post by Eldorion Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:56 pm

Orwell wrote:A labour of love, I see, Eldo.  Very Happy

Well this sort of worldbuilding is something I've been fascinated by for the longest time (it's a big part of my love for LOTR) so I've tried my hand at it a number of times. This is the furthest I've gotten in such a project in close to 10 years, though, and will soon become the furthest period.

Have you ever, perchance, thought of creating an entirely fictional world with fictional races and flora and fauna and climate? You never know, one day you might start writing stories set in this fictional world? Tolkien did. Wink

Well, this fictional world sort of started with the real world as a model, but with me trying to think through the implications of the various tweaks and changes that I introduced. In terms of technology and species present (ie, just humans) it doesn't really count as sci-fi or fantasy. Whether I ever attempt a more ambitious or radically different kind of world is hard to say. My attempts when I was younger were more fantasy-ish, but having one that is a lot like the modern world allows me to use my knowledge of history and politics for more direct inspiration. I have, however, tried to prevent any one real historical influence from shining through too much (though there was a period early on when it was pretty clearly 20th century Ireland with a new skin on it).
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Post by Orwell Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:07 pm

I like to steal everything already existing and re-label and re-fashion it as whim demands. Tolkien did it and it worked for him. Very Happy

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Post by Mrs Figg Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:05 am

moar bounce
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Post by Eldorion Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:39 am

Author's Note:

OF PURISM (PART 1)

The word purism has meant many things in different contexts over the centuries. It was first used during the Great Schism, to describe the faction which rejected the revised theology and maintained the forms and practices of the Old Church. The wars resulting from this schism destroyed much of the ancient order in Reuelea, and the aftermath saw a continent defined by smaller kingdoms and principalities, with the rulers of each one determining the religion of his region. The most reliable historical records indicate that initially the division between purist and revisionist Princes was roughly even.

In the following centuries, however, it was predominately princes following the New Church who saw success, as the era of great empires began. By the 12th century, these princes and their church took the view that the purist faith was a threat to royal and ecclesiastical authority, and they took steps to marginalize and erode purist churches. Purism carried on primarily in small principalities and duchies, or in distant areas of the larger empires. It is around this time that the association of purism with small communities and simpler way of life began, as the purists of that age were forced into such means. However, it is important to note that purism was then an ethno-religious distinction more than anything else.

The Great Plague that peaked in the 1350s arrested the early expansion of the continental empires, and while it affected purist regions just as harshly, it arguably allowed them to survive as independent polities longer than they otherwise might have. It was not until the late 15th century that Reuelea fully recovered from the ravages of the plague. This recovery coincided with an increased outward drive from the major empires, this time with a more prominent maritime focus, including several major campaigns against the Fjordians aimed at curbing their raids and piracy, which met with mixed success. New weapons and tactics, including more sophisticated gunpowder weapons, were also prevalent by this time.

Most of the remaining purist realms were conquered and annexed in the 16th century. Repression of the purist faith followed, although not to the same extent as in earlier centuries. However, the movement of New Church settlers and mercantilists changed the nature of the conquered cities, with practicing purists increasingly forced into rural and economically marginalized areas. Many chose to stay and convert, however, particularly as intermarriage became increasingly common. The number of people who could claim some purist ancestry grew with each generation, though legal discrimination against practicing purists (e.g., barriers to holding office under the King or Emperor) remained on the books well into the 19th century.

Through all this time, however, purism was not an ideology as we know it today. In fact, ideology as a concept did not exist in the same way, with the main dividing line in domestic power struggles being that of the monarch versus the nobility. This struggle is of course as old as civilization, but in the increasingly sophisticated and complex society of the early modern period, nobles in many kingdoms and empires were able to win increased concessions from their monarchs. Nobles always had some power over taxation since it was very costly to try to force them to pay, and not all kings were able to do so, but now such arrangements became matters of legal formality, such as in the early parliaments, as opposed to perennial low-level civil wars.

As such arrangements became more entrenched and common, it is perhaps inevitable that the aristocratic class would begin to produce philosophers to justify and defend their new rights. The foundations of liberalism were thus laid, though it was very different from its modern form. It was concerned with protecting the rights of the privileged from infringement by kings, but took for granted the superiority of nobility over commoners. It's economic theory was primitive, though this began to change by the late 18th century, as the early liberals increasingly advocated for the removal of restrictions on trade. On this front they ran into opposition from some members of their own class, however, as protectionism had long benefitted landowners who were primarily involved in agriculture. Clever monarchs were able to use this and similar issues involving patronage to certain aristocrats in order to establish the first conservative parliamentary factions to defend their interests.

The social upheaval caused by increased industrialization and urbanization spilled over into the political arena and disrupted the longstanding status quo much faster than anyone anticipated. The growing middle class largely sided with the liberals and rulers found themselves being forced into offering political reform, although the liberal leadership remained mostly aristocratic. The more shocking and severe threat to the old order came from the sudden reappearance of purism on the scene in a new form.

Nineteenth century purism, sometimes termed social purism, did not initially appear to be a revolutionary political movement. It began in the first two decades of the century as a subset of the larger Romantic movement of artists, poets, and philosophers who were dissatisfied with the drastic changes they observed in the world around them. Such intellectual pursuits were limited to the leisure class, so the new purism was in origin an aristocratic phenomenon. Nostalgia for the supposedly simpler and more moral lives of the medieval and early modern purists, living far away from the corrupting environment of cities and merchants and kings, evoked an image of great emotional power. While historians then and now have questioned the accuracy of this image of purist life, this did not dissuade the Romantics or their followers. It is worth noting that the few surviving purist communities (mostly poor and very far removed from aristocratic circles) were not part of this “revival”, and little interest was initially paid to their way of life or their opinions.

However, the nostalgia for a simpler life began to attract attention from the other classes of society, and the nascent forms of mass media, especially newspapers and journals, began to reproduce poetry and artwork and stories of the old purist way of life with increasing regularity. This expansion into the middle and working classes led to a full-blown “Purist Revival”, with purist plays and festivals spreading rapidly and attracting people form all walks of life to open fields and forest clearings on the outskirts of cities to experience a taste of the old way. Interest in possible descent from medieval purist communities spiked, with many societies and even some businesses purporting to be able to document any member's true purist lineage, family history, ancient coat of arms, and other factoids. This new identification as purists, as opposed to simply viewing them as a tragically lost example of true living, was mostly limited to commoners, who could more plausibly claim descent from centuries-old peasants than could aristocrats who already had meticulously recorded family trees.

While the Purist Revival was still primarily an artistic and cultural movement at this point, it was viewed with increasing suspicion by many governments, who saw the movement's ideals and rhetoric to be opposed to the status quo. Some purists did take the social message to the next level, demanding more radical reforms that would place the principles of equality and community at the heart of the modern state, just as they had ostensibly been at the heart of the ancient purist realms. Massive public rallies in the 1830s frightened governments further, and they began to crack down on the movement, arresting those whom they branded as agitators and traitors. This in turn reinforced the view among many that modern governments were fallen and corrupt (1).

Footnote 1:

The most notorious purist of this era was the lawyer-turned-activist Kelannar, from the Empire of TORC. His furious rhetoric and unwavering belief in the moral righteousness of the purist cause gained him a devoted following but also alienated many within the same movement. He was closely followed by military agents and the knowledge that was being monitored seems to have contributed to his even more radical ideas in the mid-1840s. Frustration at the difficulty of achieving reform led to widespread rioting in several countries, but especially in TORC, and Kelannar was blamed and imprisoned by Imperial authorities as a result of this. A more moderate faction of purists, desperate not to see the entire movement swept away in the aftermath, founded the Purist League in 1848 to negotiate with governments on behalf of the movement and to act as a clearinghouse to prevent any ideas that were too disruptive from gaining traction.

The League was widely embraced by the movement and governments alike, and was responsible for recording and codifying the emergent philosophy of social purism during this era. It also sponsored numerous large-scale charities and social projects, which inspired several wealthy sympathizers to the cause to begin their own utopian attempts at realizing the dreams of purism privately, without coming into conflict with the state. While political action by purists continued, the League remained largely uninvolved, except when it felt the need to denounce a particularly disruptive or violent voice.

As it became clear that the purists would not simply go away, the aristocratic liberal faction perceived an opportunity and began to make inroads in their own goals of reform, which no longer seemed so radical and dangerous. Economic activity and the movement of peoples both increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century, both due to political change and the increasing march of technological progress. Many moderate purists were happy with these changes and joined with the liberals, which drastically expanded their faction into something resembling a modern political party. More extreme purists continued to agitate for radical change, but began to tone down their demands to be more attainable.

The culmination of purist activism in TORC finally came in the 1890s on the issue of land reform. The purists spent some 15 years staging occupations of underdeveloped aristocratic-owned land and protesting (some would say harassing) the conservative lords who opposed reform. This aggressive though non-violent action earned them plenty of enemies, but there was also widespread sympathy on the land issue, particularly as the protests kept the issue in the public eye and protesters occasionally became martyrs when Dukes and Earls send privately-hired security forces to break up camps and marches. Finally, a liberal PM who had in his youth been a moderate purist succeeded in forcing through land reform. After this, the purist movement began to fracture, as few wanted to overthrow a friendly government but no one could agree on what the next big goal should be.

Even as the mass movement started to founder, purism began to make inroads in the heart of establishment institutions, particularly at Universities, which were the main feeder for government and the upper bureaucracy. By the late 19th century, enough people who had grown up during the movement and did not view it as an existential threat had achieved success and professorships, and the intelligentsia of many countries became majority-purist. As University society was mostly upper class, this introduced a class division within the purist movement that would last for many decades.

This more intellectual purism was particularly strong in the Empire of the Plaza. The Plaza had some of the strictest anti-purist laws in the 18th century and several Emperors tried to apply them to the social purists as well. The last of the discriminatory laws was not repealed until 1924 (2), when the young, purist-sympathizing Emperor Halfir took the throne. Even before this change, however, purism was strong among the intellectual class. Furthermore, the Universities of the Plaza had the unique privilege of appointing almost 30% of the Plaza's Senate (an entirely appointed body intended to represent a cross-section of the whole Empire), which gave many purists parliamentary immunity and a platform to speak from, even while the majority of purists had limits on their speech.

Footnote 2:

The general increase in living standards throughout Reuelea during the 20th century removed much of the impetus for the purist movement, but it left a long shadow and many sympathized with its ideals even if they were never part of the Purist League or any other such organization. (TO BE CONTINUED)


Last edited by Eldorion on Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:50 am; edited 3 times in total
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Post by Eldorion Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:43 am

Okay, so I know that the above is really dry and technical, but I promise that Part 2 will include names from the forum and be more directly relevant to the story of Bree/Forumshire. This is the last piece of "pre-modern" history I wanted to address and it probably belongs more as an appendix than a part of any narrative, but it does explain some of the stuff that happens later so I figured it was worth posting. Plus I still had notes to myself from a year and a half ago telling me to write a longer exploration of purism's fictional history, so I figured I might as well finally do it. Shrugging
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Post by David H Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:55 am

Brilliant! :carrot:

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Post by Orwell Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:48 am

Hard to follow due to all the information and allusions to forums I know nothing about, but I am really impressed with how you have constructed it all, Eldo. You should be writing 'serious' history and not 'popular' history - I refer to the world outside the Tolkien-realms btw. But keep going. I'm hoping to get more of a handle on things when Bree and Forumshire enter the discourse! I do love the technical information and wonder where forum history begins and forum pseudo-History ends. Again, maybe when Bree and Forumshire arrive I'll be able to guess where it applies to that Era. Wink

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Post by Eldorion Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:55 am

Thanks Dave. :carrot:

Well Orwell, there are a couple people I know who keep trying to convince me to write a history book, but I dunno what about exactly and I have a hard time imagining people wanting to read it, though you guys' comments are very flattering and encouraging. Smile

I think it'll be pretty clear when the Dark Planet Day analogue occurs (there's already been an allusion to it), even though the subsequent course of events bears much less resemblance to what really happened on here in 2011.
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Post by Eldorion Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:01 am

I don't wanna talk too much about my real world influences, especially as some of them bled through a little heavily in that last bit, but basically the historical stuff here is my attempt at creating a reasonable backstory for a world that sorta mirrors forum happenings. So I want Bree to be on an island or continent that is less developed than the older, established powers, but I don't want a direct parallel to the Americas. So ... how might it happen? I want there to be an ideology called "purism" that is opposed to something called "revisionism" and it scares rulers and elites and might ultimately motivate its adherents to violence. What the hell would the actual belief system behind it be and how would it have emerged? Some pretty obvious parallels to socialism, I think, but purism on Tolkien forums is all about upholding certain forms of traditionalism, so there has to be a reason for those differences.

Edit: and the other reason for all this backstory is that I don't want people's comprehension of the story to be dependent on recognizing the references to real forums. I suck at coming up with names so yeah I'm just copying some of them directly (others I've tweaked a bit) but I hope that the story will be able to stand at least sorta on its own when all is said and done.
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Post by azriel Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:10 am

I need pictures.......& wax crayons ! Neutral How I envy your brain ! Amazing read, & all this is tucked safely in bed in your brain bucket somewhere !

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