Liúşai League

Liúşai League

390 BCE–1704 CE
Flag of Liúşai League
GovernmentConfederation
LegislatureSynodos
Historical eraAntiquity, pre-modernity
• Oath of Liúşai
390 BCE
• Colonisation War begins
1695 CE
• Colonisation War ends
1704 CE
CurrencyMultiple
Succeeded by
Xevden
Today part of Gylias
Part of a series on the
History of Gylias
Seal of Gylias

The Liúşai League was a confederation of Gylic states formed in 390 BCE. It was a consolidation of existing alliances among Gylic states in the aftermath of a Bronze age collapse and Bastarnae invasions.

The League was composed of multiple states of varying size and political organisation. They shared a common democratic evolution, with governing assemblies in local communities, leading to the predominance of direct democracy, republics and elective monarchies. Member states' economies revolved largely around agriculture, mining, handicrafts, and trade, particularly by sea.

The League was successful at preserving Gylic independence for centuries in the face of a series of foreign threats, and its stability and relative prosperity helped attract migration from Tyran. It fell to invasion by Xevden in 1704.

Background and foundation

The 10th–7th millennia BCE saw the settlement and emergence of the Gylic peoples, followed by a transition to sedentist agriculture and the emergence of states in the 7th–4th millennia BCE. These states were mainly concentrated in small areas along the coast or rivers, where conditions were ideal for cultivating grains, particularly rice and maize.

Expansionist pressures from other societies, including the Makedonian Empire, the Ainetui, and the Arkoennites, pushed the Gylic states towards greater cooperation, particularly by forming military alliances to resist foreign invasions. The immediate catalysts for unifying these alliances was a Bronze age collapse in the 4th century BCE, which wiped out the palace economies that were developing, coupled with a Bastarnae invasion.

The founding event was the Oath of Liúşai, traditionally dated to 390 BCE. Representatives from the existing Gylic states met together at a sacred grove in Liúşai, located today in north-western Envadra, and formed a common alliance to resist foreign invaders. Representatives swore to have the same friends and enemies, and dropped iron ingots into a nearby lake to symbolise the permanence of their alliance.

Members

The Liúşai League was a confederation, and its members are traditionally described as "Gylic states", although this does not imply centralisation or nation states in the modern sense. It was a patchwork of cities, rural communities, and territories that had amalgamated into larger polities.

Establishing the exact membership of the League is rendered difficult due to the shifting allegiances throughout history, and some states deliberately exploiting ambiguity — the Zinerans and Varans on the eastern coast paying tribute to the Sabrian Empire while remaining League members.

Generally, historians consider the "core" members of the league to be the states of the Gylic peoples, plus the Tetrapolis of the Hellenes, which consisted of the cities of Nymphaion, Argyrokastron, Nikopolis, and Hierapolis, plus amalgamated territories.

Politics

Direct democracy was common among the Liúşai League. Urban and rural communities formed governing assemblies composed of local citizens, which voted on decrees, treaties, and law proposals prepared by a council appointed to the daily affairs, and elected certain magistrates. In turn, these assemblies sent delegates to larger assemblies at the regional level, of which the largest was the Synodos of the League.

The Synodos met once per year, in a different location, with each member state having a vote. It could only collect a tribute in times of war, which members could either pay as a tax or by sending armed forces.

Selection by lot was the dominant mechanism for selecting officeholders, as well as jury trials.

By the post-ancient era, the democratic trend had consolidated into two dominant forms of state organisation: republics, generally run by proto-directories, and elected monarchies. Monarchs in the latter tended to rely more on moral authority and charismatic authority to secure assemblies' approval for their policies. Some later monarchs, such as Rísfað in the 16th century, have been controversial for accumulating power through symbolic means at the expense of the theoretically paramount assemblies.

Internal conflicts, civil wars, intrigues, and battles among ostensible allies still took place. Historians mainly credit the League with stabilising the Gylic states and serving as an "honest broker" when necessary to defuse conflict or tensions among member states. The combined strength of the democratic states was sufficient to resist attempts to impose oligarchy or autocracy.

Economy

The contrast between the large territory of the Liúşai League and its small population proved beneficial to member states. The economy rested on an alliance between the cities, largely concentrated on coasts and oriented towards maritime trade, and rural areas, where agriculture was largely practiced through common land systems.

Significant resources included minerals in the Salxar, Naryn, and Kackar mountains, as well as abundant forests in the hinterland. The small size of the economy still caused problems with unemployment, pushing states to create public assistance programs such as free distribution of food.

During times of peace, the Synodos also established a common treasury in order to increase cooperation between states. Large-scale public works projects gave the League states a sophisticated infrastructure. Roads linked cities, stimulating trade and communication; some cities were founded on traditional rest stops for longer journeys, such as Tavis and Tezira. Cities and villages were protected from floods and supplied with water by canals, dams, and dikes.

Each state had its own currency; some settlements even minted their own currencies. Fluctuating money supply was a consistent weakness of the economy, and monetisation was limited by the problems of coin debasement. Taxation and payment in kind remained predominant, even into the 16th century.

While taxation in general was low, wealthy citizens were expected to provide patronage to temples, the arts, and communal festivals and feasts.

Social structure

The combination of low population, vast territory, and economic stability produced egalitarian societies by the standards of the time. The League's member states had relatively low inequality and poverty, and the failure of oligarchy to take root prevented developments such as the emergence of an elite, slavery, or feudalism. The economic and political aspects made the Liúşai League notably attractive to migrants from elsewhere in Tyran; waves of migration contributed to significant ethno-cultural diversity.

Consistent interaction and trade encouraged a closeness among the Gylic peoples, and the emergence of a Gylic koine from their languages. Several significant non-Gylic populations emerged and made a significant impact on League societies, including the Miranians and Hellenes. Hellenes' prestige in matters of culture and politics led to common use of Hellene as a prestige language among West Gylics, and was reflected in terminology like "Synodos" for the League's assembly or ekklesia for local citizens' assemblies.

The League societies' broad egalitarianism extended to gender and sexuality: women were equal citizens, with equal rights and activity in the public sphere, while a third gender was recognised as an umbrella for androgyny and non-binary identities. Prostitution was practiced at state brothels with regulated prices, and took the form of a tiered system of which hetairai were the highest class.

The Gylics borrowed existing alphabets to write their languages, including the Hellene alphabet, Latin alphabet, and runes; the Latin one began to supersede the others in post-antiquity. Literacy seems to have been high: ancient literature and political treatises are completed by ubiquituous graffiti in Gylic settlements, whose crude language and diversity provides vital evidence of popular language use, pastimes, and use of public space.

Religion

The Liúşai League was a multi-religious confederation, with religious toleration being a standard policy among its states. The prevailing religions were polytheistic or animist, making them easy to reconcile.

Concordianism emerged as the religious tradition of the Gylic peoples, mainly through a process of amalgamation and fusion. Many Concordian ecymei originated as tutelary deities, which were merged into a larger pantheon.

Altars and shrines to Agnostos Theos (Ἄγνωστος θεός) or Agnostos Thea (Ἄγνωστος θεά), the "unknown god(dess)", were common in Gylic settlements, reflecting the familiarity with religious pluralism and an acknowledgement of the limitations of human knowledge regarding the divine.

Syncretism with non-Gylic religions was widespread; the Hellene practice of comparative mythology was very influential in this regard. Several non-Gylic religions had a significant impact, among them the Hellene religion, whose pantheon and myths achieved popularity throughout the League, and Tennaiite beliefs, which had an influence on Concordianism's use of dance as a religious practice. Long roads were commonly decorated with hekataion.

Religion largely fulfilled a unifying and utilitarian role to the League authorities. There was no professional priesthood; religious activities and maintenance of shrines and temples were carried out by members of the community who also had other social functions. Religious and secular authority were intertwined. A variety of rituals, festivals, and feasts existed due to the mixture and syncretism of religions. Mystery religions and local cults also proliferated.

Both cremation and burial were practiced by different communities; funerary items commonly used the phrase Enthade keitai (Ἐνθάδε κεῖται), Hellene for "Here lies", followed by the name of the dead person.

Conflicts

It was this background of polytheism and syncretism that caused such great conflicts when monotheist religions began to appear. Gylics reacted with hostility to the perceived arrogance and intolerance of monotheists, and saw proselytism and conversion as grievous insults and threats to the public peace. The emergence of Zobethos in the former Makedonian Empire earned it the hostility of the League's Hellenes, who proudly stuck to their traditional polytheism. Islam's spread from Mansuriyyah made it the main enemy, and provoked lengthy religious conflicts, collectively known as the Quliyasi Jihad.

The perception of monotheist religions as an imperialist and oppressive force drove Gylic authorities to increasingly mark the limits of League tolerance, by adopting policies to suppress monotheism as a threat to social stability. Anna Komnene recounted in the Liusiad that there was widespread mockery and suspicion of "those who only have one god", to the point that Gylic border guards to the north-west would ask travelers how many gods they worshipped before allowing them to enter. Longinus gained fame as a commander during the Quliyasi Jihad for his emphasis on inducing metanoia in captured enemies, and considered depriving them of the opportunity to spread their religion as the supreme punishment.

Foreign relations

The League made contact with distant lands, reaching as far as Delkora, Æsthurlavaj, Acrea, and Ossoria. Each member state would establish relations with other countries, and their resulting diplomatic missions would meet in common, reflecting the League's common foreign policy.

Although member states were subject to Viking raids from Æsthurlavaj, Acrea, and Delkora, Nordics did settle in the League, and there are little signs of major ethnic conflict as a result. Similarly, Persians from the east were well-regarded for their cultural achievements despite their absorption by Mansuriyyah, producing some Persianate society tendencies in art and culture of the later League.

Some Gylic chronicles distinguish between Persians and Arabs of the Mansuri caliphate, and featured snide commentary that the Arabs had no culture of their own and stole all their achievements from the Persians. This reflected an unofficial policy during the Quliyasi Jihad of attempting to sow division and separate Persians from Arabs in order to undermine the spread of islam.

Some of the League's closest diplomatic ties were with Kirisaki, the Sabrian Empire, and the Rideva Empire; the resulting trade contributed to the League's prosperity while cultural ties had an influence on Gylian culture.

Culture

The Liúşai League was vital in the development of early Gylic culture, particularly literature and art.

Flag

At some point in the pre-classical period, the League adopted a flag, with a narrow white stripe in the middle of a dark blue background. The two blue halves symbolised the sky and the sea, thus alluding to the League's seafaring prowess.

Collapse

The Liúşai League was weakened in the 16th century by several setbacks, including internal conflicts in member states, famine, plague, and other natural disasters. This was also the period when the Ŋej people arrived, beginning to settle in the Nerveiík peninsula. Their activities and growing numbers caused tensions. The Ŋej state launched the Colonisation War in 1695, seeking to conquer the League.

Despite the League's spirited resistance and war of attrition tactics, the Ŋej advanced slowly northwards, using divide and conquer tactics and taking advantage of the states' weakness. However, disaster struck the Ŋej during the campaign: with their entire army sent to fight the Colonisation War, their neighbours seized the moment to attack and conquer their state. The Ŋej elite, military, and many civilians fled by sea towards the conquered Gylic territories.

The war ended with the League's defeat in 1704, and the proclamation of the new state of Xevden.

Legacy

The Liúşai League played a fundamental role in Gylian history. Its establishment as a confederation aided the democratic development of its member states, and largely steered Gylian history away from the path of centralised states followed by other Tyranian nations. It accustomed the Gylic peoples early on to co-existence and good relations with sizeable non-Gylic populations, opening the door for sustained influence and good relations with states like Kirisaki and Cacerta.

After the Colonisation War, the native populations held on to the memory of the League and their existing traditions and religious beliefs in defiance to Xevdenite rule. Glorification of the League, particularly its "democracy" and egalitarianism regarding gender, were key elements of the Gylian ascendancy. However, this also produced a long period in which the historiography of the League was distorted by Gylian historians that used it in order to promote Gylian nationalism or radical ideologies such as anarchism. It was only later, after the end of the Liberation War, that the League's history was studied in a more balanced manner.

The organisation of the League has often been compared to anarchism, particularly anarcho-communism and libertarian socialism. This heritage was a key driver in the popularisation of anarchism among the Gylian resistance to Xevden, and was evoked by the Free Territories. Some aspects of the League-era societies were revived in modern times by the Gylian ascendancy — the communal assemblies as heirs to the citizens' assemblies, hétaïres as modern descendants of the hetairai, and the federal structure of Gylias itself as a successor to the remarkably enduring patchwork of the League, which managed to survive centuries against a variety of internal and external challenges.

As the Liúşai League was the older polity and the terms "Gylian" and "Gylic" are more recent coinages, many Tyranian languages still have exonyms for Gylias and Gylians are based on "Liúşai", including the German Lüschiener, French Luchiennes, or Italian Liusciesi.