Comptroller of Waters and Marine Prefect
The Comptroller of Waters (水黃令, sl′jur-gwrang-ringh) and Marine Prefect (護水使者, gagh-sl′jur-srje′-tja′) are two high-ranking Themiclesian civil servants, managing natural resources in Themiclesia and Columbia respectively. The Marine Prefect originated as an assistant of the Comptroller of Waters in Themiclesia but later developed his own jurisdiction in Columbia, becoming the subject of much controversy once Casaterran settlers appeared in the area.
The Comptroller of Waters is an ancient office, the first mention of which dates to the Tsjinh dynasty (265 – 420). While it is not clear whether his early portfolio was identical to the same in later times, jurisdictions were comparable. He was responsible for the maintenance of all waterways and a number of royal forests. By extension, he managed all shipping by water, whether via river or the coastal waters. By a further extension, he oversaw the equalization of the prices of goods by purchasing them from areas where they abound and selling the same where they were wanting; this was an early form of economic control, derived from Menghean economic policies and treatises of the Meng dynasty (c. 200 BCE – 278 CE). A war between the Sungh and Rjang states occurred on the river border in 480, resulting in increased state control over civilian boats, via the appointment of the Marine Prefect, whose duty is the registration of all river-worthy and seaworthy boats in Themiclesia, in case of war in water. By extension to this, he also registered the owners of boats and arranged for their captaincy and armoury during an emergency. The need to suppress pirates resulted in the extension of his jurisdiction to the sea. In 502, he acquired a number of manufactories to produce battering rams and other naval weaponry.
In the early 700s, Themiclesia attempted to establish control over the continent Columbia, first via diplomacy then, after the founding of the Dzi dynasty, a mixture of diplomacy and conquest. These early attempts had mixed results, and by 780 a sizeable coalition of native societies, brought into contact largely by Themiclesian interference, formed a formidable threat to Themiclesia's desire to dominate them. In 792, Themiclesia mobilized 40,000 soldiers and defeated the coalition, led by prime minister Gwjang Hwal (王歡). Gwjang negotiated for the assent of native leaders to allow travel, mining, agriculture, hunting, and forestry in all the lands that were unowned, apparently to allow a future of peaceful co-existence. To drive home his point, Gwjang executed the leaders of the coalition and exterminated one of the tribes that had an important position in the coalition. As a life-long bureaucrat from a hallowed line of bureaucratic aristocrats, Gwjang established ownership according to Themiclesian understandings; the lack of clear records impaired his objects. After some basic boundaries were established, the Marine Prefect was ordered to take accounts of resources in the part of the continent Themiclesia declared it owned, for future use. The nuances of native concepts of ownership, which Gwjang failed to recognize, made the Marine Prefect's job a profoundly challenging one, especially when Themiclesia withdrew all forces from the continent.
- Note, the word "Marine" here is to be interpreted in the same way as in "merchant marine".
- Gwjang's methodology here involves imposing Themiclesian understanding of real estate on native societies. This meant if a piece of land was owned so to exclude Themiclesian access, it had clear boundaries and an owner. A piece of land could be jointly owned, but that required a contract or some written instrument so stating. Gwjang asked natives if they owned a particular piece of land, but they frequently responded by noting their access to it, such as hunting or trapping in it. Yet if multiple persons answered they had the same access to that land, Gwjang interpreted it that the land was unowned and therefore open to Themiclesian access. This is inconsistent with how land was owned in Themiclesia, since there were certainly communal lands that had no single owner or limited set of owners, which still excluded alien access. According to modern interpretations, Gwjang not only imposed a Themiclesian understanding of land ownership, but a hyper-limited type of land ownership, reducing Columbian natives to the status of Themiclesian commoners and simplified their interests in land to only a single type of interests in land that Themiclesians had. This dissolved economic relationships and the power structures it implied, weakening native leadership and ability to marshal resources.