Grand Duchy of Kirvina
Motto: "In danger there is faith, in faith there is danger"
and largest city
• Grand Duke
|Time zone||UTC -5|
“Kirvina”, as a national title, comes from "Kíraly-Vinasze”, or in their language, The Crying Lands. The territories were so named for the awesome amount of rainfall that batters them each year, giving rise to massive marshes and floodplains as far as the eye can see. Even the mountains that make up the centre of its ancient territories receive more than their fair share of water, filling the rivers that crisscross its territory.
Kirvina possesses a number of geographic features with differing variance, as does any other modern nation-state of considerable size. Its central highlands form a formidable but beautiful landscape and are the host to many well-established mining industries, and its fertile coastland is dotted with major cities, hubs of trade- once city-states, as part of the United Empire and then the Grand Duchy they have flourished as the trade capitals of the country. The majority of the population is concentrated on this flat coast- and to the north, along with the river delta of the Batreasca, the grand river that forms the heart of the agrarian marches which provide the occasional tribute in foodstuffs to their nominal overlords in the Kirvinan capital.
The peoples of Kirvina are descended from the great migrators of the late Bronze and Early Iron Age, those few who made their way out on boats from Europa into the great unknown and landed on foreign shores. While the vast majority have died out of their respective landing spots, those who made it to the southern reaches of Aurelia found a climate not too unlike the ancient home they had left and were able to stay within it. Around the year ~ 300, the first great expeditionaries struck out alone, traveling from the highlands at the center of the great continent. They forsook both their brothers and the rich coastal lords who sought to make them into client states, building canoes and small sailing ships from the birch that lay in the wooded groves by the coast a month’s march from their original home. Their ride, by boat and on foot, took them island-hopping across the great oceans alongside the other migratory peoples of olden times. When they stopped their boats in Marenesia, they found their reception by the locals already there less than kind. Unlike the others, who were able to destroy the peoples on the islands they found, they were put to flight again and sent fleeing across the Adisi Ocean. Historians postulate that the key distinction that allowed them to make this voyage was their development of larger sailing ships accordant to the flat-bottomed cogs other nations would develop some four hundred years later, giving them a cutting edge in a long-range voyage that they would desperately need to complete so large an undertaking. The Great Voyage was not a one-trip undertaking- it was a series of population shifts and short boat rides by a people moving forever on and leaving only scarce diaspora behind. When they finally arrived at the coast of Aurelia, the nearly deserted shores did not appeal to them either, and a halfhearted attempt to travel further was made. In some ten years further, they rounded the Cape of Bad Dreams and landed on the peninsula near the Gulf of Auriel.
This would prove the furthest extent of early settlement, and where the future capital would be built at Bílehora, on a secondary peninsula within the peninsula itself, overlooking the entrance to the grand delta of the Batreasca. The grand journey took around forty years to complete- those who were young men at the beginning of it were wizened elders at the very end, and infants born along the trip had become adults. The result of this Odyssean journey was the resettlement of an agriculturalist people into the devoid, pastoralist spaces of Aurelia, where only a scarce few indigenous peoples wandered. The timeframe of this journey would lead the Kirvinska, in time, to consider themselves the indigenous peoples of the region in their own right- its ancient overlords and rightful heirs. Their physical appearance, from this, was thus that of an ancient class of Europans- often tall and pale, with dark hair and bright eyes of a (sometimes) gently Asiatic appearance. Some irredentist scholars debate the Great Voyage theory, citing it as ‘impossible’ and that the Kirvinska are truly natives to the region, but linguists and top academics fervently deny the point. Their evidence is such that it is accepted as fact. The pre-modern period, besides the Great Migration, was a time fraught with events and danger for the Kirvinska. Their newly created people were by no means unified- it retained an ancient Europan system of family leadership and distended ducal systems, tribes and kings, Gods and battles. It was under these auspices that they spread to occupy much of the coastline and made inroads into the Highlands, from roughly 400 to 700.
These years are known as the Definition in Kirvina, and it is easy to see why- the works of art and culture produced during these years would define the culture of Kirvina, and what it truly meant to be Kirvinska. Another, more subtle thing defined during these years was the hierarchy of the states. Up until this point, they had, for the most part, worked together. Their populations were too low to truly war, and the indigenous were still a threat to the survival of their people. When the Definition came to an end, there was a clear matter of which clans and dukes were stronger than the others, and a complicated web of guarantees and alliances began to form as to not upset the three-hundred-year peace between the Kirvinska. Unfortunately, as all good things, this would not last- and it proved an important driver to progress that it did not last. The native peoples of Aurelia were not steelworkers, they could not even work iron- they paled in comparison to the gleaming city-states that had been erected on the cairns of their people.
It would make war among themselves for the Kirvinska to truly improve and develop in a warlike direction. The years from 700 to 900 are characterized as The Learning, where new methods of war began to take hold among the disparate peoples. Against each other, they fought for the first time, and dangerously, conflict in the name of the annexation of land was justified for the first time and laid as a casus belli among the Kirvinska, instead of simply titles or prestige. The changes in this period were for the most part small, though, as the population was again not large enough to truly conflict. As a migratory people, their settling stock had been low, and through their refusal to interbreed with he natives their population had as a whole remained small. The time came, though, during these years, where it began to grow to levels that would allow more full conflicts over major goals, which as well lasted longer. The period immediately following this one was long- and sparked by an issue in the governmental system.
The Grand Duke in Bílehora died without producing an heir, and for the first time, the polity as a whole was faced with a succession crisis. With no Grand Duke, there could be no Kirvinska, and most importantly the major claimant to the throne followed an unpopular denomination of the Faith. His ascension sparked a rippling serious of league wars all across the continent- the three major sides were each composed not of a segment of society, nor of a faith, but of the natural geographic allies who made up a portion of the area. Between those allies, matters slowly brought them together into a more central command structure. It could almost be said that they centralized into porto-states, confederacies of small cities, each functioning under their own hereditary leader with his democratic assemblies. This period of league conflict endured up until almost the modern era, with on and off wars characterizing their people through the Middle Ages and its following period. A notable tidbit of this period is the discovery of the Kirvinska by the famed explorer from Rihan, Leordan, who was given shelter by the ruling Duke of Bílehora. The works on the Kirvinska produced during his stay, the Book of Facts remains one of the most comprehensive guides on High Kirvinska culture and how it laid the foundations for its modern descendant. This period of intense conflict and modernization ended around 1750, with armies now marching on the field with gunpowder weapons and pioneering group tactics.
The Legitimist faction which set its capital in Bílehora had won and proclaimed the Empire but at a great cost. The act of revoking the democratic rights of every local assembly in their territories, for fear of the treachery which had highlighted the early League Wars, infuriated these democratic bodies beyond belief. Even with this simmering rage, peace was maintained in the land for a considerable time, coming up upon a hundred years- and at the end of this period, it ended. A great conflict to mirror the League Wars was expected to herald the destruction of the Empire, but the Emperor in its charge had great prescience. He foresaw the destruction- and possible end of the Kirvinska identity- that might ensue. It was a peaceful transition that saw the dissolution of the Empire, his title shifting back to Grand Duke as he released his various peripheries and rebellious regions as client states instead of direct administrative provinces. This division has lasted until the modern era- while it has made Kirvina something of a rump state, wielding only a fraction of its potential power, it has also made certain that its identity has survived whole and intact into the present. The current Kirvinska states form a league; which is in turn slowly centralizing- one by one, republics rejoin the fold of the Grand Duke, who plots, schemes, and waits until such a day as he might declare the fully reformed Empire, natural borders intact and flourishing.
The government of Kirvina is nominally a Grand Duchy, led by its titular Grand Duke from the capital at Bílehora. There are significant democratic autonomies on the local and provincial level under his governance, as well as a bicameral governing body with limited power which is assembled often in the capital. Monarchs are educated from birth to provide the best possible rule for their country, and the son who will become heir is voted on each year within the legislature. A holdover from its older years, a law states that women cannot be elected leader- but if their husband dies and their child is too young to rule, they are permitted to be Dowager Duchess and manage the national estates until their child is of age. There is, however, no separation of powers- there is only one branch of government, organized in a national bureaucracy beneath the Grand Duke. It is within this umbrella that all powers and all estates are contained, all reporting up in a chain until they reach the Duke. The Duke himself, while appearing at the top, is not especially powerful. If he acts against the will of the legislature, and they turn hostile, he can easily lose control over his own country. However, a Duke securely in control of legislative appointments is a powerful Duke- however meritocratic those appointments are, it is his job to choose between equals, and it is his word that settles it. The balance of power has shifted back and forth over the years, but at the moment it rests squarely in the young Duke’s revanchist hands.
The military is a significant part of the Kirvinska legacy and culture, having been at the forefront of its innovation since ancient times. To quote a famous historian; “The lads in green play with the world’s fanciest toys”. It stands in most times at around two to three percent of the population but rapidly swells during a war. At the moment its troops are committed mostly to patrol, home defense, and being an underpaid labor force for the government to construct fortifications and other such safety measures. The proudest section of their armed forces would be the navy and its constituent air wings- having arrived by boat, and controlling the Cape of Bad Dreams, a significant amount of their budget is pushed towards controlling the water around them, which might put them at odds with other naval powers. Their army is still respectable- they are not extremely specialized, and as such currently, represent a medium power. The strength of the fully unified League is not to be laughed at, though— should it ever form a single nation, it could constitute one of the strongest powers on Aurelia.
With a population approaching fifty million within its currently directly held territories, Kirvina is one of the larger nations in Aurelia, not to mention its size if it would integrate its entire league. The majority of its money is made on the free market, by projecting trade power- it is a wealthy country with a sizable middle and upper class, and its merchants are not averse to traveling abroad for a better deal or to the highlands of Aurelia in search of rare resources and commodities to resell at a higher price. Kirvina is dominated by manufacturing industries including automotive, chemicals, metals such as iron and steel, electrical equipment, coal, ships, machine tools, high precision equipment, optics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and plastic goods. Its high-wealth, high-export economy serves to call it the Jewel of the South, a wealthy country resembling quite closely its Europan ancestors. An important distinction, though, is that Kirvina could only be considered truly an economic powerhouse if it held the true entirety of the League’s extent. At the moment, while wealthy, it does not have the projection or international popularity to truly throw around any weight.
Almost 100% native Kirvinska. Immigration isn’t very common, but the population has a relatively xenophobic outlook on the topic of foreigners living at home. Those who do come must assimilate quickly- it is a great boon that their native language is not especially difficult to learn.
Kirvina has a deep history and has been a major player in Aurelia’s past. From this stems a culture that is filled with meaningful customs, and traditions; celebrated holidays and events, and myths and folktales. It is very hard to describe in so short a format, and almost impossible to truly sum up the full reach and breadth of a culture, but what must be said shall be said. I will release cultural notes in tenet format, and instead of providing the full breadth, simply leave you with three curt examples.
A very important part of Kirvinska culture is the dress that its inhabitants wear. How someone dresses tells you their status in life, their occupation, how much they care about meeting you and what they plan to become. The land itself is rather cold and rainy, which has given rise to umbrellas as a fashion statement. The pattern of the umbrella you port from day to day becomes both an easy way to recognize you and a way to show individuality, various young teenagers getting unique patterns on their personal umbrellas when they arrive to the age of thirteen. There are as well several other dress formalities- successful businessmen are expected to wear the suit and tie to most occasions, and to bring sharply cut shoes and dark umbrellas, adopting in general a dark and formal motif. Married women, instead of rings, wear tight, embroidered gloves- in Kirvinska society, these are the symbol of marriage, and are worn any time they step outside of the house. The way one’s hair is cut also presents a question of appearance and thus of status- a military man is expected to keep his hair short, while artists, painters, and poets are expected to keep theirs long. Young women looking for love and courtship are expected to have long, unkept hair, while once married it is supposed to be short and/or done up. These little expectations and nuances dominate the fashion life of the Kirvinska, and it takes suitable experience to understand what is proper for what occasion and what appearances bring true respect.
Manners are another important part of Kirvinska culture, and put heavy weight on the social scene, though not as much as they did in the medieval era. Their language as well is specifically built around the idea of manners and politeness, carrying a formal method of addressing someone and more formal ways to phrase sentences. These little twists and turns also formulate a large part of Kirvinska culture, and make interacting with them all the more curious. An example set of expectations is for the oldest son- the future patriarch of the family. He is supposed to show the utmost respect at all times to his father and his grandfather, to parrot and follow them in all he does and learn. He is supposed to comport himself with honor, to protect the women of his family from abuse and harassment, and to make an impact on the world. Individualism also plays a role in Krivinska society, primarily the idea of individual success and the possibility of truly any man to make a name for himself. These all fall under the blanket of manners, the way someone is supposed to act, and are differentiated from virtues by the fact that virtues constitute manners as well as the more philosophical, incomplete side of manners.
To show you what that means, I will provide what is the Kirvinska set of virtues for the average married woman in their country. In terms of dress, she is supposed to be demure and modest- to reflect favorably on her husband and her family, who are held to the same rigid expectations. She is also expected be successful in her own right- both as a career woman, and as a mother, and at times both at once. The teaching and doctoring professions, as well as the arts and several sciences (such as optics) are heavily composed of women in Kirvina, and their virtues say that in these fields they should do well. They are also expected to be skilled in socializing and skilled in speech; supposed to be good entertainers. This is supposed to reflect favorably of her husband as well- in general, virtuous husband and wife are trained and geared to be separate but equal, a couple who complement each other in the most dear and intimate ways and create a unit that truly contributes to society.