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Tervingian High Kingdom
|323 BCE–429 CE|
Largest extent of Tervingia, c. 220 CE
The general Lake Kupalnitsa area had long been inhabited by a diverse group of ancient tribes and proto-civilizations, with the north of the lake and the Karmin river delta having been home to proto-Germanic and later Gothic tribes and petty kingdoms united nominally by their paganistic religion and basic structure of their governments. By 400 BCE, the primary focal point of sociocultural and economic power in the region was the northern Gothic petty kingdom and city of Saragetra, located near the modern Ostrozavan city of Trebor. Under the successive leadership of multiple petty kings, Saragetra's nascent political structures, which were increasingly centralizing, expanded over the northern edge of the Lake and into modern day Drevstran, where they further assimilated the Gothic peoples of the Azdren lowlands, though the more southern people of the Azdrheg highlands resisted attempts of direct subjugation, instead adopting a policy of harrasment and asymmetric attacks that ultimately halted any further expansion by Saragetra.
The semi-legendary figure, Lorelei Saratheoda, was the the first female queen of the petty Kingdom of Saragetra, and is commonly attested in both regional folklore and contemporaneous accounts by figures in the Latin Empire as the first to consider a pact of equality between different tribes in response to aggressive encounters with both organized and disciplined forces of the empire in the West, as well as Nordic raiders on the major waterways of Gothic lands and increasingly bold Cyneric raiders, which had been harrassing the northern reaches of Saragetran territory for over a century.
Thus, Queen Lorelei called the First þiudaþing between rulers in the region in 339 BCE, establishing formal diplomatic relations with Valeni, North Germanic, and remaining Gothic polities in the region; many of these peoples agreed to pay tribute to the central Saragetran kingdom in exchange for military protection, thus beginning the political structure of decentralized rule that would lead to a stronger Tervingian government later.
As a beginning of eventual greater centralizaiton of the þiudaþing Pact, Lorelei also managed within two years of the event to secure the more entrenched allegiance of Valeni tribes throughout the Balrog river valley though personal marraige of her son, Alica, to the eldest daughter of a prime Valeni chieftan, in 327 BCE. By popular tradition, the Prince woke the chieftain's daughter from an eternal slumber placed upon her by the trickster god, Duda, and subsequently married her during Yule celebrations.
As more stories of a "great army of conquerors" began to disseminate into the Lake Kupalnitsa area, centralization of the Pact seemed to have accelerated, culminating in 323 BCE with the second þiudaþing and the declaration of the Waipsmahts Kunjahaidus Tervingiuta, or "Crown and Customs of the Tervingians". This is considered to be one of the first recorded legal documents in the area, the first mention of the name Tervingia, and the first workable constitution of a nation of peoples in Belisarian history.
In 319 BC the city of Wosdef near modern Dravask called the Tervingians for help as they were being besieged by Markos, king of the Gaets, who ruled over the Azdrheg Mountains. The Gaets had been long lasting rivals of Saragetra, contesting its control over the Azdr lowlands. After a successful campaign relieving Wosdef from the Gaetic pressure, the Tervingian gained the loyalty of the germanic tribes living in the Medenzag which meant that they could now threaten the Gaets on two fronts. A second war against Markos is testified by Tervingians Runestones, where his brother, king of the "Horrgets" and him plundered the Azdren lowlands before being defeated in battle at Tabroke, one of the first mention of a ranged battle between Gothic tribes.
The fate of Markos is unclear but by 309 BC it was his son, only known as Markosen in Runestones, who was king of the Gaets. Markosen launched a war against his uncle after the latter refused to relinquish his control on the eastern side of the Azdren Corridor. The king of the Horrgets died in battle, or during a raid, and Markosen then campaigned to be elected King of the Horrgets, with the support of the Tervingians. As a vassal of Tervingia, Markosen was known as the Allegaeti Reike, the King of all Gaets.
In the 3rd century CE, the ancestral Hétumoger appeared on the northern border of Tervingia. They launched a series of raids and assaults on the Gothic lands, which directly threatened the heartland of the Empire. Repelled from Saragetra, the Hétumoger continued their plunder in the eastern regions of Tervingia, where they proved to be difficult to dislodge, defeating the Tervingians twice before being finally forced to move northward, where they settled in the plains at the borders of the Empire. This represented more than a decade of permanent conflict for the Tervingians and devasted most of the lands east of Lake Kulpanitsa, but affected the Valley of the Drev the most. During all this period of warfare, the Hétumoger were led by a King called János I, after whom the wars and campaigns launched against the Hétumoger are called. János is the first known king of the Hétumoger and is supposed to have died sometime before or after the Hétumoger decided to leave Tervingia. The exact consequences of his death are unknown, but the hopes it would have raised among the Gothic people of a dislocation of his tribal federation were quickly extinguished by his successor, Sándor.
The presence of the Hétumoger on the border of Tervingia led the Tervingian Monarchy to prefer a policy of appeasement toward the nomadic raiders. In exchange for peace, they paid a tribute in animals and cloths fabrics, in the hope to buy enough time to recover from the destruction brought by János. Their new leader, Sándor, decided to involve himself directly in Tervingian politics, notably maintaining relations with tribes in the Sevromark and the Azdrheg without the consent of the Crown. In reaction, the monarchy decided to limit the influence of the Hétumoger on these now-dubiously loyal tribes and re-strengthen the borderlands by inviting Slavic chieftains to settle with their people in the borderlands, especially the Secromark which was directly south of the Hétumoger's pastures.
Unfortunately, this policy also brought into conflict the newly settled Slavs with the Gothic tribes that had previously inhabited their grants who felt insulted and abandoned by their king back in Saragetra. Raids, counter-raids, and terror campaigns were waged by local tribes and clans, and the borderland fell into a state of anarchy.
Seizing the opportunity, Sándor moved in with his horsemen, gaining the support of the Germanic tribes against the Slavs. Meanwhile, the Tervingian Monarchy raised a large army to oppose the Hétumoger and crush the "traitor clans". The war laster around five years, without any battle to decide of a clear winner, but Sandor's side ultimately came out on top, once again threatening the Saragetran heartland of the Kingdom multiple times. Ultimately, the two kings met and signed an official peace treaty which greatly favoured the Hétumoger. Beside the raise of the tribute the Tervingians had to pay to the Hétumoger, the slavic settlers were to leave the border and the lands they had occupied was to be granted back to the Gothic tribes that had lived there before and their right on these lands was to never be contested by the Saragetran Monarchy again. To make sure of this, these tribes formed their own federation, represented by a decently strong party in the Thiudathing. Through this federation, it is assumed that Sándor acquired a direct influence on Tervingian's politics, paralyzing their highest institutions as the border tribes and clans were now definitively under his protection and hegemony.
Beside the humiliation that the treaty represented, the Tervingian Monarchy was now left to deal with the question of the Slavic tribes it had to resettle. They were granted new lands, deeper in Tervingia, once again bringing tensions with the previous inhabitants of these regions and building up resentment between the two people, slavic and germanic. Ultimately, the Moger wars and the humilitation they represented for the Monarchy left the rest of Tervingia distrustful in the capacity of the central powers to protect them, leading to the rise in authority and power of local chieftains and other more popular leaders. A fracture in the Empire that was to never be truly mended for the following centuries.
The political structure of Tervingia were essentially inherited from the Kingdom of Saragetra, which had developed an original, for its time, model. The King was an elected position, and he was adviced by a Council of Elders made of important priests and aristocrats from all around the Kingdom. The King's role was originally simply to organize the military strength of the original tribal confederation and was elected for a single season, then a year. With the help of the aristocracy, a proto-administration would develop around the personality of the King, aimed at collecting the funds and ressources necessary for prolonged raiding campaigns and the protection of the Saragetran settlements. Free from the requirement of a strong charismatic leader to hold together the tribes, the original confederation survived for generations and the constituent tribes began to clear up the defensive wild lands that separated them. To avoid conflicts over farmlands and to better organize the colonisation process, the power of the King were expanded and he became a form of "Supreme Judge". It is also during this period that his mandate became lifelong instead of yearly. This process of empowerement of the kingship and its associated institutions would continue thourough Tervingia's existence.
Originally, Tervingia's military was not fundamentaly different from other Germanic peoples. The main difference was that the King could rally multiple raiding parties, generally made of thousands of people each, and each led either by the King personally or by other proeminent aristocrats famed for their bravery and wealth. The logistic capacities and organization brought by the royal institutions also allowed these raiding parties to be composed only of combattants while other germanic raiders were often accompanied by their families.
The basic formation, and unit, of the Tervingian military was called a wedge. Each wedges were made by the levied fighters from the same village and was led by their clanic leader. As such, given the average size of a Tervingian settlement, it can be estimated that a wedge was made of around ten people, with large settlements being able to field multiple or larger wedges, and a standard raiding party would've been made of ten wedges. During the early days of Tervingia, it became common practices for the Kings to raise three parties per front they wished to protect or attack. Only rarely would a King fuse multiple parties into a large army to fight on a battlefield, as the favorite strategy of the Tervingians were assymetrical in nature, based on raids and rapid actions. In that regard, the superior logistic of the Tervingians was often the determining factor in many of their wars against other Gothic people.
The Tervingians, like the other Germanic and Gothic peoples, were mainly farmers and sedentary pastors. They practice an extensive agriculture, with long periods of fallows. Despite this, lands left to rest after their exploitations weren't unproductive : they were used to raise cattles, but also to obtain fruits, honey from wild bees, and fire woods. After a period of four or five years, they would perform Slash-and-burn to further enrich the soils.
Barley was the main crop cultivated by the Tervingians. Differnt varieties of wheat, rye, or oat were also cultivated, depending on the local climatic conditions and cultural preferences. Beans and peas were also cultivated on the northern shores of lake Kulpanitsa. As Tervingia grew and its economy strenghtened, the Gothic people also began to practice horticulture and sylviculture. Flax, and Hemp were also cultivated for the creation of textiles. The "Tervingian Hemp" notably became famous for its quality thourough Belisaria.
Bovines was the main cattle raised, but herds also included porcines, ovines, and poultry. Horses and dogs were also raised as companions and war animals. Depending on the region, Tervingians were avid consumers of cheese which was one of their main source of animal proteins. Bread was rare and limited to wealthy free men and aristocrats. Most of the population ate porridge instead.
Crafting and industry
Manufacturing slowly grew from purely local, if not individual, productions, to more developed and complex forms of work organization. It's under the Tervingians that the Goths began to exploit their own mines and produce their own iron and steel instead of relying on imports. With the "Saragetran Peace", some Goths began to specialize themselves in various crafts, including metallurgy, leather working, and pottery. Metallurgy was the first of these industries to gain a recognized status, as its artisans left the traditional villages to settle in their own fortified "workshop towns" located in the mountains or hills near an important deposit of their favored metal. It's the wealth gained from selling their work that allowed these "Crafters clans" to hire excellent architects to design and build the stone constructions of these new cities, a first in Tervingia.