Empire of Zesmynia
|Recognised national languages||Zvonian, Pari|
• 2018 estimate
• Per capita
• Per capita
|Currency||Zesmynian zlatý (ZSZ)|
|ISO 3166 code||ZES|
Zesmynia (Kavacian: Ⰸⰰⱄⰿⱔⱄⰽⱁ Zasměsko), officially the Empire of Zesmynia (Kavacian: Ⰸⰰⱄⰿⱔⱄⰽⱔ ⰲⰾⰰⰴⱌⰵⰲⱄⱅⰲⰺ Zasměské vladcevství), is a sovereign state located in West Borea, bordered in clockwise order by Razaria, Volomeria, and Kheratia. It has a population of about 58.1 million, and is the 2nd most-populated country in West Borea after Luziyca. The capital city is Katvan while the largest city is Zlatikopet.
'Zesmynia' is a near-direct derivation of the Kavacian-language endonym Zasměsko, which is in turn derived from the Zasem river, the largest river and most well-known geographic feature of Zesmynia. The river's name is from Later Sepcan, and has a direct ancestor in Old Sepcan dzaksim, meaning 'black/blue arm'. The river name was used to refer to the Zasem valley region that forms much of Zesmynia as early as the 5th century, becoming widely used by convention in the 8th century, and was easily accepted and adopted as the name of the imperial entity during the Formation of Zesmynia.
Prehistory and antiquity
Homo ergaster fossils have been found in eastern Zesmynia dating to about 1.1 million years ago, and the earliest settlements have been found to date to about the 8th millennium BCE. ??? culture and ??? culture sites have been found in Zesmynia, representing its major neolithic cultures, as well as substantially expansive presence of agriculture, pottery, and metallurgy. By about 2200 BCE, urban developments emerged on the Zasem river, driven by the efficient food production via irrigation that the river offered, and with it appeared the Zasem valley civilization. The civilization lasted only briefly before conquest by the Sepcans, a Monic people, in the 20th century BCE, and left little records of its culture.
As the Sepcans established an unified empire and began to settle, they founded new cities on the Zasem, and soon it became an important center in the Sepcan realm. The area was already heavily populated beforehand, and upon conquest most of them were rewarded to Sepcan nobles as serfs; this, coupled with acquisition of local leaders' property, drove the rise of Menew as nobles found themselves suddenly replete in resources of various sorts. The river valley correspondingly had a high concentration of fiefdoms. Khyual II's centralizing reforms in the 16th century BCE however confiscated most of these estates. The area was placed under first a system of prefectures overseen by appointed and supervised scribe-bureaucrats, and then a looser system of governorates known as rukens. However, ruken lords of the river valley area turned increasingly rebellious in the 14th century BCE, initiating a series of rebellions that led to the empire's eventual downfall.
After the collapse of the first Sepcan empire in the 13th century BCE, northern Zesmynia was largely still under the control of Sepcan elites, while the south saw the ascent of natives that was observed in most other parts of the former empire. The Kalian civilization developed on the Zesmynian coast, flourishing from the 11th to 4th centuries BCE in the form of seafaring kingdoms, before being conquered by the Lysandrene Empire. The Sepcan principalities upstream were gradually overthrown in the 7th century BCE after crippling natural disasters and famines, and replaced by indigenous elites, though the Sepcan population and presence was still significant. The Neo-Sepcan Empire, founded in western Kheratia, rapidly conquered the area in the 170s BCE in its rapid growth before sweeping south and conquering several of the old Kalian cities too, posing no small concern to the Lysandrenes.
The standoff between the Neo-Sepcan and Lysandrene empires manifested mostly through warfare on the Kalian coast, and control of southern Zesmynia constantly alternated. In the meantime, the Neo-Sepcan political and cultural core slowly shifted to the Zasem valley. This was unchanged after the Lysandrene empire's collapse and conquest of most of it by the Neo-Sepcans; the capital city of the now-triumphant Empire was practically permanently fixed at Brungun by the beginning of the 2nd century CE.
Early Cositene period
In the 1050s, the Panoles plague began in Zesmynia, causing devastation through depopulating the area, and then the collapse of the Bibliocracy as well as Tastanism in general. This was concurrent with the Cositene expansion; the mass conversion of disgruntled peasantry, gentry, and nobility alike to Costeny and their consequent participation in the destruction of the Tastanic order sealed the fate of Tastanism and its institutions. Ostromysl was one of the first and most important nobles who converted to Costeny and spearheaded the destruction of Tastanic states in the Zasem valley area. Other nobles followed his example, to preserve their power as much as to demonstrate their piety.
By the 1070s the arrangement of states in Zesmynia was changed greatly, with the region now split between four main states: the Ostromyslovid Empire, the Pavakovid Empire, the Vladimirovid Empire, and the Eparchy of Namdania (the only obishty-republic among the four). Between them, they had ruthlessly and efficiently extirpated Tastanism politically and culturally. These states were ultimately rather short-lived however, being replaced in usurpations or absorbed by each other in a series of conflicts that were as bloody as the anti-Tastanic wars, waged as each of the rulers wished to attain a catholic dominance over the Cositene world as well as supremacy in the vein of the idea of Podslynitsia. Ironically the exhaustion of the Zasem valley, already depleted from the chaos of Panoles, from these wars made the importance of these states decline and the wars in the river valley never had serious regionwide implications as a result.
By the time the Investiture of Peregnevy put a temporary stop to the conflicts, Zesmynia was split between the Neo-Ostromyslovid Empire, the Premyslovid Empire, and the Kamosayevid Empire, and was economically exhausted, resulting in its eclipse by the Empire of Razaria as the Razarian Hegemony began. The rivalry between the three states was manipulated by Razaria to prevent any Zasem-based state from becoming too powerful. Devolution and other pressures of sualny split the three states into considerably smaller principalities both formally and effectively by the late 14th century. Although politically repressed, economically the reemerging prosperity of West Borea benefited the Zasem valley massively, laying the groundwork for its ascension in the 16th century.
From 1508 to 1517, Myslivoj Blagoradov engineered the formation of Zesmynia through promoting a Sepcan-themed mandate to the Cositene community and Podslynitsia, unifying the Zasem valley. He instated the Chervenranovids, a 'blessed line' descending from both Great-Saint Zbyzlo and a Neo-Sepcan dynasty, on the newly created 'throne' of the river valley, but he and his Blagoradov family ruled in reality through the all-powerful office of 'Imperial Protector'. Blagoradov gained the support of most local rulers by preserving much of their autonomy under a sualnic framework, making the new Zesmynian 'state' significantly decentralized compared to its contemporaries. Fuelled by the Zasem valley's renewed economic prominence, the new Zesmynia ascended in the Zesmynian Hegemony quickly in the next few decades, defeating Razaria in the Berdovinian War (1544-47).
The period of Blagoradovid regents saw that family's extensive privileging in Zesmynia that caused the resentment of other powerful noble houses. Furthermore, under Dobrorad Blagoradov (Imperial Protector 1540-63) the Blagoradovs began to attempt to supplant the rulers of pre-Zesmynian divisions with a bureaucracy while curtailing the former's power, raising no small alarm among the nobility. The reign of the cruel and incompetent Chistivoj Blagoradov (Imperial Protector 1571-77) saw military setbacks in Boratia which then led to an attempt to violently purge the nobility. The nobles overthrew and executed Chistivoj in the 1577 White Peony Incident while diminuting the Blagoradovs' estate. In place of the autocracy of the Imperial Protector, the nobility established a chesa arrangement where they directly formed the apparatus of state which was now being used to further their own interests in a concordant agreement. The Chervenranovid emperor gained a new role as an arbiter of this arrangement, but remained restrained in his powers.
The Zesmynian Hegemony in the post-Blagoradov period seriously attempted to become a catholic authority over the Cositene world. This status was attained with a series of campaigns in the 1590s that earned Zesmynia the submission of all of its immediate neighbors and even the states of modern Luziyca. It also supported the development of diverse discourses in Cositene theology, and held a tolerant attitude with the emergence of the rivalry of the Black and White Lights. A sense of proto-divlenic nostalgia for the Sepcans also emerged with increasing reuse of Sepcan aesthetics and themes. For the first time in Cositene history a large-scaled policy of religious tolerance known as cultivationism was implemented. Arts and sciences also flowered with Zesmynian rulers becoming major patrons of such pursuits.
However the Zesmynian empire was considerably more loosely held together than its predecessor hegemon, and its dominance would be more short-lived. The podslynitsian comprehension of the regional order had ironically undermined Zesmynia's own status, tolerating the emergence of regional rivals, and a sense of symmetry between states appeared in West Borea as the universal status as vassals to the Zesmynian emperor (also frequently implied to be a 'Cositene emperor') positioned them as equals. The barriers to commerce between West Borean states instituted prior by Razaria to undermine their ability to strengthen was replaced by a system of free trade and easy passage between domains. This, along with a generally non-interventionist attitude of Zesmynia as a hegemon, allowed the different states in West Borea to come to parity in broad economic terms, and be able to truly rival each other as powers. The emerging issue of the falling status of Zesmynia itself was known as the 'illusion of supremacy'.
Aucuria became a major regional power thanks to the emerging trade between Conitia and West Borea in the 1670s, displacing Zesmynia's status nearly completely. Meanwhile the Delirium and Torpor struck Zesmynia as it did elsewhere causing a period of intellectual stagnation, and the emergence of xenophilic movements such as divleny and syncary. Zesmynia remained a stable and prosperous country if struck occasionally by rebellions or natural disasters, but in general its stagnation was undeniable. Some divlenic reforms such as a bureaucratic examination system were instituted but were limited due to worries of their displacement of the nobility's powers.
During the advent of industrialization and capitalism in the 17th century, Zesmynia's large population provided a high-demand market that both drove industrialized production and consumed its products. The empire became dependent economically on the emerging powers of Kovachovid Razaria and the Luziycan states in the 19th century. A self-strengthening movement attempted to industrialize and modernize the country beginning in the 1820s. Initially opposed due to their support of bureaucracy and managerialism, in the 1830s they picked up surprising endorsement from nobles, who wanted to relieve themselves of economic external dependence.
Under the direction of Ljubomir Kaštovec (Chancellor 1830-47) and with support of emperor Tokten (r. 1826-43) Zesmynia industrialized, and adopted protectionist policies to compete against other powers. Zesmynian nabories expanded into Nunalik and Kheratia, and even began colonial ventures in Namor and Nautasia. The country even established good relations in East Borea by presenting itself as a follower of Eastern political principles and ideas. Zesmynian prestige had rapidly rose in a short period known as the Daylily years (1833-53).
This abrupt ascendancy worried powers such as Razaria however, and had also displeased them as the Kaštovec government's protectionism closed a previously important unfettered market for industrial goods, not to mention presenting competitors. Kaštovec's tendencies of centralization modelled upon East Borean government also raised for his program many enemies. Foreign-backed sabotage first engineered the downfall of Kaštovec, but the powerful in Zesmynia were not intent on stopping their own rise; thus to secure the West Borean order they had created Razaria and ??? invaded and occupied Zesmynia in the Kodotun War (1853-56).
After the Kodotun War Razaria and ??? divided Zesmynia by the Zasem river, the northern valley entering the Razarian sphere of influence and the southern valley ???'s. Besides annexing territory from Zesmynia, both countries carved the remaining territory into small client states that were formally inducted into their spheres of influence via membership in a Monic-inspired tributary system. Careful measures were taken to ensure these states' dependence on their suzerains and inability to assert economic independence.
The pull these two states exerted on the post-Kodotun states decreased steadily since the partition for various reasons such as domestic unrest and Zesmynian restorationist agitation. By the 1880s maintaining control over the 'Zesmynian vassals' was very difficult and reunification sentiment was on the rise. In 1890, Ljuti II of Razaria permitted the reformation of the Zesmynian state in the Razarian region in an attempt to create a dependable and controllable ally.
Second Empire, the Restorations, and the Vilcharskian Wars
The newly established Second Empire, with a throne held by the Chernydvorovids, was still heavily subservient to Razarian interests, but its emperor Boleslav II was independent-minded and became difficult to control. Boleslav maintained general amicability with Razaria and a semblance of supplication, but reestablished the influence networks Zesmynia developed in the Daylily era through economic ventures under a private cloak. He was also able to achieve general resumption of development, resulting in what was known as the 'Chernydvorovid restoration'. Zesmynia slowly eclipsed a declining Razaria; when Boleslav II died in 1902, his son Šekvan openly declared the end of any formal or effective submissive relationship to Razaria. Šekvan aggressively championed Zesmynia's expansion, conquering southern Zesmynia in the Šekvanian War (1904-08). He also attempted to remove the power of the nobility in favor of an autocracy centred on himself, with the support of divlenist pro-centralization reformists.
However, by 1916 Šekvan's program ran into trouble on all fronts, and like its neighbors Zesmynia became mired in political and economic crisis. In the winter of 1916 the Tukatovids launched a coup d'etat and usurped the throne. The first Tukatovid emperor, Sobeslav II, was amicable to noble interests that had supported him, but when he died in 1919 his successor Temnebor was an staunch advocate of divlenic autocracy and promoted the polymath Mirokar Vilčarsky to Chancellor, tasking him with expanding the imperial state's power.
Vilčarsky, a follower of ???, turned Zesmynia into a totalitarian state with political power nearly monopolized by a ???ist party. His 'Vilcharskian restoration' saw tremendous state-led economic growth, social stability, and gain of international prestige, but was also criticized for its oppression, the suppression of dissent, and encroachments on noble interests. However, Vilčarsky was able to avoid making enemies with the entire noble class which would have been lethal for him through befriending many nobles via political concessions, and using them as allies against those that opposed him. The development of industry, military, and influence made Zesmynia a great power by the 1930s.
Vilčarsky then initiated the Vilcharskian Wars, a series of conflicts driven by Zesmynian expansionism that caused chaos throughout West Borea. Zesmynia invaded ??? in 193?, and then invaded Kheratia in 1940. The 'wartime emperor', Čejvo, gave full support to these ventures. Unfortunately the protracted and devastating total war depleted Zesmynia's strength and by 1953 it was losing ground to Kheratian counteroffensives; by 1956 Kheratia overran Zesmynia. Vilčarsky himself died in 1953 from overworking. As the country was occupied, the imperial government was evacuated but local noble domains continued to fight Kheratians and their collaborators to prevent the establishment of a socialist state, prolonging the war. The Gozar War (1958-59) briefly overspilled into Zesmynia as Razarian troops entered the country to support anti-Kheratian forces. Luziyca, alarmed by the expansion of socialist influence, supported the restoration of imperial authority and secured the establishment of a new government in 1959, using military threats to force exhausted Kheratian forces to withdraw.
After the war, Zesmynia was in a ravaged state. With Luziycan support, the nobility reasserted their position in the state and reinforced strongly (if not fully resurrected) the chesa system, turning the imperial state and associated institutions into a near-direct instrument of their collective interests. This was combined with a strong suspicion of any movement oriented towards centralization or opposition to the nobility, resulting in the establishment of a temporary police state to combat revolutionism, and the public disavowal of Vilcharskian policies. The nobility was traumatized by their constant sidelining by various pro-centralization movements since the 19th century and the huge damage on their property caused by the war, which was seen as ultimate proof of the flaw of such ideas, and thus focused on the reversion of these changes and bolstering their own positions, a program often termed at the time a 'reversion towards Serenity sualny' by outsiders.
The Zesmynian throne was vacant like its northern neighbor Razaria from 1959 to 1963 (Čejvo having abdicated in favor of the Vitograd Council, a regency committee of powerful Luziycan-backed nobles), when Miroslav II of Zesmynia was elected and Tukatovid succession re-ensured. In the meantime, Zesmynia became the main recipient of Luziycan reconstruction aid, and became an important part of the Northern Barrier. It rapidly rebuilt thanks to generous aid alongside efficient management and distribution of resources as well as encouragement of entrepreneurship, resulting in the Zesmynian economic miracle from 1963 to 1970. Growth continued in the 1970s and Zesmynia became a leading industrial country in West Borea, although this progress was checked by the Recession of 1980.
During the reign of Sobeslav III (r. 1984-2004), Zesmynia became a world-leading innovator of information and computing technology, building upon adventurous entrepreneurship and Vilcharskian-era research. While the nobility retained strong political control, commoner entrepreneurship was made feasible with proliferation of networking and rising innovative sectors became a challenge to noble grip on society. Nascent commoner-origin entrepreneurs were also rewarded massively with titles and estates to resentment of establishment gentry. These have resulted in an ongoing conflict in Zesmynian society between traditional and the new, 'network-era' nobility, the latter increasingly supportive of extensive technocratic reform. Among traditional nobles with large estates, rivalries have also intensified, spreading into political areas. These tensions have only grown with Miroslav III (r. 2004-)'s supportive attitude of reformist figures.
Zesmynia is an absolute monarchy; the monarch derives their authority from divine right, through their status as the holder of the serical and thus master of Cositene ritual in the country, as well as direct consecration by a reincarnate custodian of Cositene teachings, customarily the Axebearer of Peresenev. In terms of rites and philosophy, Zesmynia uses a fusion of White and Black Light customs and concepts. The current Emperor is Miroslav III. Succession is determined by election from a pool of eligible candidates.
Although not formally restrained, the Zesmynian emperor has always been restricted in his freedom to act by the country's expansive nobility, who wield far-reaching influence and may even be considered the true rulers through the system of chesa exhibited by Zesmynia.
Zesmynia has an advisory Imperial Senate, comprising various nobles, who deliberate on issues, often at imperial request, and then present recommendations to the Emperor. Although it does not formally hold power, it has frequently become a forum for nobility to resolve conflicts in interest and formulate actions that are agreeable with all interests.
Conflicts between noble factions have characterized Zesmynia's political tensions for decades. There is a broad divide between more prestigious 'High Nobles' whose titles were granted before 1959 (and often earlier than 1856), and the 'entrepreneur-nobles' who were rapidly promoted to incentivise innovation during the 1980s information technology boom and ensuing 'Information Age'. However, main factions typically feature diverse mixes of nobles from both strata.
Zesmynia maintains friendly relations with much of the world and has particularly close ties with most of East Borea. Regionally it is rivalrous and sometimes hostile against Razaria, considered its primary military threat.
The Imperial Zesmynian Army (IZA) is the military of Zesmynia, answering directly to the Emperor, and comprising a ground force, a navy, an air force, special forces, and a strategic weapons force. It has 340,000 active personnel. Zesmynia has one of the most technologically advanced armies in its region and indeed the world. Its power projection capabilities are mostly limited however, though Zesmynian special operations have been deployed across the world in many missions, sometimes maintaining regular presence.
There are around 190,000 serving in paramilitaries in Zesmynia, all of them allegiant to various nobles. Although obligated to fight for the Empire in times of war, there is significant concern over the power of these paramilitaries; the 2015 Nasivasko scandal is the most recent manifestation of this conflict.