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Hourege (pronounced /'hu:rɛʒ/ or /'u:rɛʒ/, OO-rezh, from Ndjarendie "Hooreejo" - Leader, also referred to as "Debere" in Kaiye Tourie and "Masimbe" in Rwizikuru) was a semi-feudalistic system of sociopolitical organisation that arose during the Bahian consolidation. Scholars define Hourege as having been fully adopted in the twelfth century, when the final wave of proselytory missions ended and several key South Bahian states such as the veRwizi Empire arose. The adoption of Hourege marked the end of the prominence of city-states within Bahia and a move towards a more western understanding of stateship. Under Hourege societal ties were shifted from allegiance solely to one's tribe to towards the Karame, a wide-reaching term which at once encompasses secular and religious authority and prestige. It was defined by a mutuality of obligations between the ruler, who was charged with the secular and religious direction of the nation, and the castes below him who all filled societal roles.
The political situation in pre-consolidation Bahia was dominated by villages formed around locations of religious or commercial value. These cities grew organically, starting as mere totemic shrines, markets or other areas of note which grew in importance as more people moved there. These cities were areas where certain tribes concentrated, but it was predominantly these ties of kinship which organised society. Cities were usually ruled by a priestly elite, often with important war leaders holding much influence, but without the same officiality of authority as seen in Euclean societies. The power of these leaders came solely from their influence in society. In times of war, the cities were protected by the male populations instead of by a standing army, and the victorious cities would usually take tribute and slaves from the other cities but rarely subjugated and took land.
The core of the village-based system was the decentralised nature of Bahian Fetishism, as it allowed for the possessors of these fetishes to wield influence. Priests did not wish to expand their cities too much, as this would weaken their unofficial control over their dominions. This meant that with the introduction of Irfan to the western areas of Bahia, the system began to crumble. Tribal military leaders who converted to the faith usurped the fetishist priests and gained the support of the local Ulama who relied upon them for protection. This concentrated power in the hands of military chiefs, who derived their authority from strength at arms as opposed to the unofficial respect of the population. This shared religion also conferred a greater sense of unity, and in 898 AD several of these chieftains united under the banner of the Founagé Dominion of Heaven. This was the first of a series of Ndjarendie and Albori Irfanic states, which formed with the goal of spreading the faith into the fetishist dominated areas.
Consolidation of non-Irfanic states
These developments were met with fear by the fetishist villages, who were at first powerless against the invading forces. Alliances quickly formed between villages, but these were not effective due to mutual suspicions and demands of equality between the villages. The first signs of genuine reform within fetishist Bahia came in the large town of Kaanmabe in modern-day STATE. Kaanmabe was one of the largest towns in the region, due to its Kaage idols which were seen to be particularly powerful, and its people were highly afraid that this would make them a target for the Irfanic invaders. Koyizo Nzorfu, a wealthy merchant and accomplished war leader, had heard from his traders of how the Irfanic dominions had formed and resolved to try the same techniques. He raised a group of loyal warriors and through a mixture of persuasion and threat of violence managed to convince the other elders of the town to support him as a wartime leader of the entire city. He then sent envoys to other smaller villages in the area, effectively telling them that if they did not join with him and pay tribute then they would be defeated. Having now arranged a collection of cities under the hegemony of Kaanmabe, Nzorfu made the final decision which would define the Hourege system. He demanded that each village sent their best fighters to Kaanmabe, and made them swear allegiance to him personally. These fighters were promised status and payment, and in return would become full-time soldiers. This marks the emergence of the warrior caste into Bahian society.
Now possessing a core of properly trained soldiers in addition to the levied farmers and slaves of the villages, Kaanmabe was able to repulse the attacks of the Founagé Dominion of Heaven. This granted Nzorfu much prestige, allowing him to expand his influence as more and more villages flocked to his banner for protection. His warrior caste was entitled to the majority of the spoils of battle, cementing their privileged place in society. The priestly caste was sidelined from direct power, however, Nzorfu preserved their traditional influence in society and protected their place in society which gained their endorsement. Other tiers of society were also arranged into castes, with the artisanal caste further dividing into guilds. This stratification of society ensured that power was maintained in a more rigid way, reinforcing stability.
Word of this victory was soon spread by merchants, who relayed explanations of the system to tribal elders within the villages who were fearful of Irfanic invasion. Villages soon began to organise themselves into this Houregic model, with many rich merchants and priests content to pay tribute to whoever would defend them from the threat of invasion. For a period of roughly five years known as the Great Bleeding there was almost constant war as the first Houregic states began to arise through the subjugation of nearby villages, and when this ended Bahian society had been heavily changed. While the caste system changed slightly from region to region with cultural differences, the system remained more or less the same. A warrior caste appeared in the Irfanic states too, as its efficacy had been proven.
Golden age and decline
Following the implementation of Hourege Bahian society went through a golden age, fuelled by the stability which was accorded by the system and the concentration of wealth and resources into the hands of a smaller elite which permitted the construction of monuments on a far grander scale. The Bahian Golden Age is usually considered to have started in the twelfth century, which saw the rise of several major states. In the north-west, the Kingdom of Kambou arose in modern-day Kaiye Tourie and grew rich off its control of rich gold mines and control of trade routes across the Fersi desert, while in the south the veRwizi Empire rose and came to dominate the Banfuri coast. These states constructed great libraries and universities, making Bahia a centre of religious and philosophical learning for centuries. They also constructed grand fortifications, with many cities becoming walled in order to add to their power and status.
This wealth soon turned to excess, however. The clergy managed to concentrate large amounts of wealth to themselves, and as they were exempt from taxation this caused a shrinking of state revenue. The Karane response was usually to increase taxation, throttling the influence of the mercantile caste and weakening the economic stability of the kingdoms. The warrior castes too became rich and began to defend their interests far more actively, deposing any Karane who attempted to undermine the privileges accorded to them by the Hourege system. This neutralised any attempts to modernise or centralise the states, meaning that they were eventually greatly surpassed by their Euclean counterparts. By the 17th century Euclean nations had begun taking a dominant position in coastal trade, exerting their authority over coastal settlements. Taking advantage of the local structures, Euclean merchants would usurp the position of Karane in coastal areas and take tributes from the local towns. They began to trade for slaves, with their prices offered making the market incredibly profitable. States began waging wars on each other to take more slaves so that they could sell them, while the sale of menial caste workers gave a short term profit while undermining agricultural yields. This caused the eventual decline of Hourege, as the Karane were unable to maintain their positions without local supplies of food and menial labour. Their militaries too had declined significantly in comparison with Euclea.
The abolition of slavery by Euclean nations in the mid 18th century effectively signalled the beginning of the end for Hourege. No longer able to export slaves, the domestic economies collapsed as their primary source of income disappeared overnight. Karane attempted to assert themselves as leaders in this time, leading to what many scholars have described as a return to Sâre as large scale empires disintegrated. The Euclean states saw this as an opportunity and began to seize land in Bahia for themselves. The Bahians were too weak at this point to mount any effective resistance and almost all of Bahia was colonised by the 19th century with the exception of Habasha which had not been as influenced by Hourege. The Euclean colonisers saw Hourege as a primitive and un-Sotiran system and worked to eradicate it, meaning that by the end of the 19th century it was no longer present in the main urban areas of Bahia. While the system continued in a lesser form in the rural areas, it no longer defined the politics of Bahia.
Houragic society and states
Houragic society is best defined as a strict hierarchy of power within a caste system. At the top of this hierarchy is the Karame (sometimes called the Mambo), a figure of absolute personal authority and power. The position was in theory hereditary, but a Karame who could not maintain authority over the warrior caste would soon be overthrown. The Karame was entitled to the taxes gained from commerce and the largest portion of the spoils of war, and in return had to subsidise the warrior and priestly castes. Below him was the priestly caste, also referred to as the Ulama within Irfanic areas. The priestly caste benefitted from the protection and subsidy of the Karane, and in return provided religious support. They were exempt from taxation on any properties owned including slaves, which led to the corruption of the clergy which was one of the key factors in the stagnation of the system. The nature of the priestly caste changed from one region to the next. In Irfanic areas membership depended on one's education in the faith, while in fetishist areas it was often based off ancestry. The next caste was the warrior caste. This was a hereditary group of professional warriors who were sworn to the service of the Karane and loyal to him alone, with this military might being his claim to power. When not at war, the warrior caste lived a well off existence paid for by the Karane and was permitted to own slaves. In wartime, they provided the core of the Karane's armies, being better armed and trained than the levies of slaves. Next came the mercantile caste, the lowest of the castes to be considered to be freeborn. The mercantile caste were usually wealthy, and its members comprised the bulk of the state's tax revenue. They were the major owners of slaves as well. Entrance to this caste was guaranteed by birth, however, slaves who managed to earn their freedom were able to join the caste as well. Below the mercantile caste was the Artisanal caste. This was comprised of people who, despite being slaves, had certain skills such as carving, playing music or even prostitution. It was divided into several subcastes often referred to as guilds, hereditary groups of specialists who maintained their own traditions. While slaves, artisans were too valuable for manual labour and were able to gain their own money, with many even owning their own slaves. The lowest caste was that of the menial slaves. These were the farmers, domestic servants and manual labourers. They were unable to gain money and therefore had no real way of escaping their conditions. During wartime, they were levied into combat and would fight with whatever weapons their owners gave them. This was also the caste given to captured prisoners of war, and their low status was what permitted them to be sold to Euclean nations during the Bahian slave trade. These castes varied highly from region to region, with several local variants emerging. Most significant amongst these were the Yebase, a caste predominantly seen in Garambura who straddled several societal ranks.
The Houregic conception of a state was highly different from that established by Savoian sovereignty, having evolved from the earlier Sâre system. Each town and village was organised in castes, with their own Karane at the top. These Karane, in turn, pledged their allegiance to a Hourege ((sometimes called the Mambo, Sultan or other titles depending on the area). The Hourege was the most powerful Karane in the area, and it was his prestige and military might which kept the realm together. Each village would pay the Hourege tribute, granting him more wealth and strengthening his position. The Houregic state, therefore, resembled a hegemony of smaller towns and cities who paid a Hourege for protection. The system was far more devolved that the Euclean state, as the Hourege was usually weaker than the combined powers of the Karanes. Borders as such were not strictly defined as rural areas were less developed and were often home to groups of bandits and escaped slaves.
Though the Houragic system was extinguished in any official capacity with the advent of Euclean rule over Bahia, it remained more or less active in an unofficial capacity for many years afterwards and permanently changed much of the culture of the nations which followed it. A neo-Houregic legacy is often mentioned when explaining the propensity for Autocracy amongst Bahian regimes and the prevalence of the Coup d'état as a method of political change as opposed to revolution as seen in other parts of the world. An illustration of this is within Kaiye Tourie, where the system of decentralisation and rule by a military-backed dictator with proxies in the departments has been labelled by many observers as reminiscent of a form of neo-Hourege.
The caste system has also maintained an influence despite the best efforts of the Euclean authorities to stamp it out. The clergy still enjoys a privileged position in many Bahian states, both officially and unofficially, with Sotiran clergy joining this rank following colonisation. This is exemplified by the practice of tithing within many domestic churches. Many artisanal guilds are still in operation despite the pressures of globalism. A prominent example of this is the Djeli, a caste of musicians prominent within west Bahia. Even the practice of slavery, which was outlawed by the Euclean colonisers, has continued in a clandestine way in several states. These continuations of the caste system are more common in the rural areas and smaller villages, as these places were not as directly touched by the colonisers. This is shown by the town of Maware in Garambura, where many practices rooted in Hourege continued well into the colonial era and even to the modern day.