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Empire of Hysera
|c. 530 BC–811 AD|
The Hyseran Empire at its greatest territorial extent, c. 300 AD
(350 BC-811 AD)
• 530 - 497 BC (first)
|Julma the Great|
• 795 – 811 AD (last)
|Acauhezin of Ledigar|
|Historical era||Pre-Ethlorek, Middle Ages|
|c. 530 BC|
• Annexation of Ledigar
• Cession of Trelum
• Third Dynasty
• Surrender to Trellin
|March, 811 AD|
|Today part of|| Arimathea|
The Hyseran Empire was the most powerful of the Pre-Ethlorek empires, existing continuously for over 1,300 years before being defeated by and absorbed into the Trellinese Empire, with which it had been in regular conflict for over a millennium. Its territory straddled the Straits of Jajich and reached as far north as modern Étlaurlande and with outposts as remote as Bara ti'Vekara.
For most of its history, the empire's capital was at the city of Hyser, though from 390 to 350 BC the court removed to nearby Ledigar. In its later years, under increasing pressure from the Trellinese to the south and the Arimatheans to the east, the Hyseran Empire began to fragment. It was survived principally by its successor states Emla and Jajich, as well as several statelets further east. Since its conquest by Trellin in 811, Hysera has been ruled by the King of Trellin in the capacity of Emperor of Hysera. It remains a de jure sovereign state, known as Hysera, and is administrated as the three provinces of Hysera, Tenedos and Zha'tar.
The original name the Hyserans called themselves is now known with little certainty. Hyser was only one of a number Ahéri city-states north of the Serëtanz, though the trade centre referred to in Ledigaran sources as Iz-Kitaala (Stone Town) is perhaps the most likely candidate.
The names Hyser and Hysera share a root in the Old Ahéri word Hysei, meaning a wall. The second syllable of 'Hyser', Er, refers to a settlement or city; the second half of 'Hysera' is derived from Yaera, a false friend meaning a builder. Hence, the Hyserans are the Wall-builders, an epithet drawn from their skillful engineering and the numerous fortresses built throughout the empire.
The Hyseran Empire was established around 530 BC by the founder of its first dynasty, Julma the Great, centred around the city of Hyser. A network of strategic alliances helped its empire to expand northwards rapidly, annexing the older kingdom of Ledh ti'Gara and the League of Zha'tar after they exhausted themselves in a long and brutal civil war. It took the Hyserans less than forty years to absorb all the former territories of Ledh ti'Gara and its client states by a combination of diplomacy and military force. In 472, the great city of Bara, known simply by the Hyseran word for a fortress, was founded on the sea cliffs of Emla to guard the northern frontier of the empire. By 410 the empire was entering its golden age.
The empire prospered as the leading power on the Straits of Jajich, and Hyser was one of the richest and largest cities in ancient Astyria. Its trade routes reached to the eastern end of the Sea of Velar, where the influence of Hyseran culture was plainly visible on the Perendic civilisations of coastal Andamonia, and to the northern and southern ends of the continent. Foreign goods and people mixed in the markets of Hysera and Ledigar, and gardens of exotic plants from distant lands were popular among the upper and priestly castes.
At some point in the early fourth century BC, a forest known as the Hysamesya (meaning Wall-wood and more usually called in English 'the Hyswood') was planted within Hyser's encircling walls; in time it would become the most enduring symbol of the empire and its arrogance in attempting "to order all things". One fifth-century narrative behind its planting puts it against the backdrop of the newly-arrived Trellinese, described in most early Hyseran texts as barbarians:
The Prince of Emla, a worthy man whose counsel was in those days much sought-for, presented himself before the Emperor. At this time our people waged war across the river and on the shore, and many feared these strange sailors would undo the very foundations of our empire. ... At length he was called on to speak, and he approached the imperial seat. When he spoke, all listened.
"Truly, lord, you are wise to consult your philosophers, your vassals and your advisers. We are all of us imperilled by these strangers, and to either conquer or make peace is ever more pressing a need. Yet from all that I see and hear, you seek to civilise? Do you not see as your father's father did, that these barbarians are so like those who dwell under the trees? They cannot be taught to live as we do, to see as we do, to think as we do. The attempt is a lost cause. Better to try teach the unruly jungle without how to order itself than to contend with these!"
This last uttering he accompanied with a sweep of his arm, encompassing at once the entire world beyond the great stone walls of the city. For an age the court was silent. Many wondered what the Emperor would say in response, but none expected what he at last replied to the Emlan noble.
"You say the jungle cannot be taught order, that the trees will not permit themselves to be lined up and taught our ways. Shall we have ourselves a wager? I believe that even Iffir [Hyseran god of forests], will bend to my will. Am I not Emperor of the city of stone? Am I not order itself? Once he is conquered you will see that these strangers can be so taught."
At about the same time, the walls of Hyser were rebuilt at a much more impressive scale. Some chroniclers date both this event and the Hyswood tale to the reign of Muraehan, who was emperor when the Ethlorek settlement began, but modern historians believe the walls were rebuilt by his father, Calú. The materials for their construction were taken from the ruins of Qarek Tal, an abandoned city in the jungle near Maato. Qarek Tal had had a central role in the religion of the Zarakhethetin civilisation, and, despite the collapse of that civilisation's power in 616 BC, its religion still held great influence over the Ahéri. It is believed that Calú sought to stamp this out and consolidate cultural authority in the state religion. Qarek Tal was endowed with tremendous religious significance in myth and popular imagination, and it was often said that there was magic in its stones that would protect the buildings from harm. The Hyserans therefore dismantled the city stone by stone and used them to erect their city's walls. Qarek Tal was virtually erased, and Hyser came to be considered impregnable because of the size and magic of its walls.
Around 390 BC, colonists from the continent of Lorecia began to arrive on the shores of Hysera. These migrants, known as the Ethlorekoz, soon began to come into conflict with the Hyseran Empire, raiding its outpost towns and harassing its coasts. Hysera was particularly vulnerable at this time, as a civil war had forced the emperor to remove his court to Ledigar and leave most of the southern coasts open. After a long period of strife, the Ethlorekoz were eventually forced across the southern border of Hysera, at the Serëtanz river, and settled an area of marshy delta called Trelum where they founded the Kingdom of Trellin, centred on their capital at Mar'theqa, around 300 BC. The Trellinese went on to colonise southwards along the coast of Ilíra, modern-day Alyrum.
Wars with Trellin
In 208 BC, under King Amadar II, Trellin opened hostilities with the Second Hyseran Dynasty, beginning the sixty year-long Great Hyseran War. Having failed to achieve any lasting victory, the Trellinese began a period of colonisation of the coasts east of Ilíra and the western islands in the Sea of Velar. Hysera colonised across the Straits of Jajich in an attempt to contain Trellin's expansionism. In 53 BC a dispute between Trellinese and Hyseran merchants over the port of Durats led to the Second Hyseran War. This war was mostly fought at sea, and had the decisive result of restricting Hysera's overseas possessions to the Sea of Jajich, while Trellin would secure the western end of the Sea of Velar, though the war itself saw few large battles and ended in only 49 BC with the Battle of Temalain.
Christian missionaries began to arrive in both Hysera and Trellin in the first century AD. While they were tolerated in Trellin, Emperor Tomaaron had many put to death. His successors were more tolerant until Cahaud the Brazen, who executed anyone accused of converting to Christianity. The result was a mass uprising and civil war, in which Cahaud attempted to flee to the city of Emla but was slain by a rebelling general who then claimed the throne for himself. Suppressing all other rivals, he became the founder of the Third Dynasty under the name Kopral. He later gained the title "the Audacious" for declaring war on Trellin in 164 while his own empire was recovering from the turmoil in which he had found it. The Third Hyseran War proved utterly disastrous for Kopral, whose forces were repeatedly driven back over the Serëtanz in seven years of failed raids. He eventually personally led his army across the river, in a display of might unseen since the Great Hyseran War, but was ambushed on the road to Mar'theqa and driven back in a rout. His army was pursued to Hyser itself and the city besieged for two months, the first time it had been attacked, and the port was burned. The Trellinese, however, lacked the manpower or supplies to maintain a successful blockade, and an army arriving from Ímorth arrived in time to encourage them to accept Kopral's payment for their withdrawal. The blockade, however, proved to Hysera that it was no longer capable of decisively defeating the Trellinese, and Kopral's successors carefully avoided open conflict.
What began as a watchful peace gradually deteriorated into indolence as the Hyserans failed to defend their frontiers. The Trellinese moved much of their forces to the south and east, spreading along the coast unhindered by their old rival, while to the north the Ethlorek peoples of Arimathea and Dargai began to make incursions into Hysera's territory. The city of Kzint fell to the Arimatheans in 317, only being retaken in 328.
Despite the empire's slow decline, it remained internally stable with an unbroken line of succession and only a handful of small, scattered rebellions over the next two centuries. An unfortunate consequence of this domestic peace was that Hysera's soldiers suffered from poor discipline and a lack of experience, while the Trellinese were fighting wars of conquest. The empire repeatedly suffered the depredations of the Arimatheans, and in about 410, the emperor Acalaima the Wise established the fortress of Bara ti'Vacara to restrict Arimathea's expansion and trade across the Vekra Retiqa.
In 588, after a period of relative peace in both empires, Trellin's King Fethre famously declared to his ministers "the road to Hyser is paved and unguarded, and here we have the finest army ever seen in this land and all the boats to carry it. Shall our children say we refused fate, or shall they say we were the great victors?" With great popular support, he led his army across the Serëtanz and marched along the road as though in a triumphal parade. They had been seen by Hyseran scouts, however, and Fethre soon found the road blocked by a large, hastily-gathered Hyseran army. Surprised at this resistance, he faltered and the army encamped on the plain of Sanjari. This gave the Hyserans the opportunity to rest and await further reinforcements. The next day, having recovered from his indecision, Fethre sent an emissary to demand the surrender of the Hyseran army, now under General Ulmaon, who refused. The two armies engaged, hesitantly, and the infantry clashed in a long battle line. The experience of the Trellinese soldiers gave them an advantage over the more numerous Hyserans, but ultimately it was Fethre's personal bodyguard of heavy cavalry that broke the Hyseran line. Ulmaon managed to keep his army from collapsing into a total rout, and he withdrew to Hyser. Fethre, knowing that allowing them to enter the city would put greater strain on its supplies, did not order his men to chase them down. He soon besieged Hyser and, after seven months, forced them to sign a treaty of an annual tribute.