Demesne (Themiclesia)

The demesne (寰, gwrên) is a political and legal concept in Themiclesia, defined as an area the ruler directly governs and from which derives revenues.

Etymology

Most linguists believe gwrên is cognate with gwrjên (環), meaning "ring" or "bracelet". The root of this word gives rise to homophones like gwrjên (繯, "loop, noose"), and gwrjên (圜, "around, surround"), all of which exhibit the basic semantics of roundness. For this reason, philologists have asserted that gwrên originally referred to the land that surrounded the royal seat.

A furhter connection is possible to Standard Menghean hyŏn (현/県), read gwênh, which is an allograph of gwrên in Themiclesian texts. This proposal is buttressed by the fact that early Themiclesian copies of Menghean histories uses the word gwrên in place of gwênh.

History

Menghean connections

Some Themiclesian scholars cite received texts conventionally dated to the earliest part of the Jun dynasty to support the theory that Gojun-period kings divided territorial governance into two broad spheres, the nubh-bjek (內服, "inner subjugation") and ngwadh-bjek (外服, "outer subjugation").[1] Various forms of "subjugations", i.e. forms of services relative to the kingship, existed in these regions. The inner subjugation was described as composed of agricultural, bronze- and bone-crafting, and free clans, while the outer subjugation was given as various military clans or unaffiliated polities. Though it seems logical to assume that the inner subjugation existed in a more proximal geographic region, given the difficulty of transporting large amounts of staples and bronzes, known to occur in this period, over long distances, the archaeological evidence does uniformly support such a conclusion.

The characterization above is not universally accepted, and some criticize it as too primitive to support what multiple classical texts describe as a highly-centralized state during the Gojun period. These critics, conceding that Themiclesian politics during the Hexarchy bears some resemblance to recoverable characteristics of the Gojun dynasty, believe this view misuses or overvalues Themiclesian experiences (which are better documented) as a model to interpret Gojun-era state and society, the two a thousand years apart and of unclear relationship.

Hexarchy

The gwrên first appeared in the epigraphic record at the turn of the 3rd c. BCE, in the phrase gwrên-lin (寰田), usually translated as "surrounding fields". The prevailing interpretation is that the gwrên meant the area adjoining a fortified citadel, derived from literal the meaning of the root.

Notes

  1. The Anglian word "subjugation", from Ancient Sylvan sub-juctum, from prefix sub, "under", and stem juctum, perfect passive participle of jugo, "to yoke", is a perfect equivalent of Old Menghean bjek (服), "yoke", as in bjek-ngwje (服牛), "yoked oxen", and bjek-mra′ (服馬), "reined horses".