The Society of Eald


1.) Trade and Economy

Originally the tribe of the Darians -- like most of the so-called Elder Peoples -- lived on hunting and fishing. But they were -- like for instance the Terians -- no nomads, but knew firmly delimited territories which belonged to a particular clan.

During the migration to the south the hunters and warriors got more and more important. After the beginning of the settlement between the Inner Sea and the Darus resp. the Grey Hills for the first time agriculture was developed on a larger scale -- probably influenced by the Rygians. But cattle breeding (especially of sheep and cattle) also retained a very great importance for the continuity of the tribal resp. the clan-society. This, more rural kind of live, remained a characteristic way of life for a long time of the kingdom as well as the empire.

The many wars between the first settlement and the end of the kingdom, however, prevented the development of a regular economy; trade was more a kind of barter with the higher developed neighbours Rygia, Vuria and Gurum. Basic commodities were mostly produced by the members of the clans themselves and more precious jewellery was chiefly used by the kings and the (noble) chiefs of the important clans.

Only after the conquest of Gurum in the second century after the realm's foundation began the development of an Ealdian economy, although it was more an adoption of Gurian economical structures.

In the first century of Gurian settlement above the eastern Inner Sea, Gurum and the Twenty Provincial Realms had three areas of economic activities:

- the Inner Sea with fishing and the extraction of salt,
- mining of iron ore and marble north of the Gyran,
- fabrication of leather goods and cloth around Erdum and
- the areas of viniculture near Teradias.

With the expansion of the empire to Nyral (Treaty of Friendship, around 280 a.GR.) and to the Western Sea the long-distance trade became especially important for economy and trade. No later than the eigth century the Nyrals came into contact with the western continent via the Lanes. From there (in part also through Frugia) amber, cloths, jewels, parchment, wood and cotton found their way into the country and were exchanged for pottery (from Nyral) or iron, or were paid with gold. After the conquest of Myrddia especially glas and wine came from the Free Isles; from Myrddia itself amber, skins, iron and copper came into the realm.

From 410 onwards a flourishing trade developed also with Kyria, which was only interrupted between 490, 504 and 660/1 (second Kyrian War resp. Battle of Veradum). Kyria itself exported especially wood, grain, gold and flax and obtained especially salted fish, pottery and marble. The Vasall Kingdoms and the Galdian Principality traded in grain, wood and cattle.

The cultivation of grain can be divided into three phases (since the beginning of the Ealdian Kingdom): In the time of the kingdom grain-supply could be still managed by the heartlands and Gurum. With the expansion of the empire to the south the centres of grain-cultivation shifted into this region so that the Vasall Kingdoms and the area of the provinces Milum and Sora became the main suppliers of grain in the realm.

After the division of the realm since 714 the Western Realm provided itself especially from Nyral while the Eastern Realm could still fall back for some time to the mentioned areas.

Craft developed since 280 under the influence of Nyral. Before that, as mentioned above, craftsmanship was mainly a question of private initiative. In the army especially smiths and carpenters were of importance.

With the arrival at the Darus an independent boat-building developed, which was positively influenced especially by Nyraiah. From the fourth century onwards an at first limited river traffic arose. Maros an Palan (412 - 461) mentions the following manual trades: smiths, carpenters, shipwrights, potters, shoemakers, bricklayers, tanners, furriers and sculptors. These craftsmen organised themselves into guilds (collegias) in order to prevent exploitation.

Because of the conquests of Eald as a kingdom and an empire people were of course also enslaved. Especially the Blugo and the Vurians were affected by this, but also Gurians, Rygians, Myrddians, Kyrians and Terians were enslaved. In the beginning these were mainly captives of war, later on also some debtors sold themselves off into slavery. This kind of slavery existed only for some time and its duration changed depending on the debts and the puchase price. The longest duration which is known to us, the merchant Raton Dalagan reports in a preserved letter to his friend, an Imperial Councillor of the Western Realm: another merchant who had gotten into debt over the speculation in grain sold himself rather poorly because of his advanced age and spent nine years as the property of a big landowner.

The growing demand for cheap labour in the times of the Lyndian Dynasty lead to the founding of downright slave-farms, where generations of slaves were raised. At the same time that this kind of slavery was legitimized, slaves were also legally protected. They could no longer be killed by their owners (which was legal before, but only seldom practised; a slave was a precious good after all) and they also had a limited right of protest against tasks which imperiled their lives. This did not apply to slaves working on galleries and in the mines, however.

The invasions of the Terian Nomads again brought an increase in the number of purchasable (in contrast to debtor- and breeding-) slaves; but this only lasted for some time. Often it were the captives of invading people which became "breeding-slaves".

Generally the following "trades" of slaves can be distinguished: teachers (especially Gurians), scribes (not in the legion), domestic slaves, slaves in the mines and on galleries, and to a certain extent also carrier-slaves (that means all those slaves which carried goods or chunks of marble).

Freed slaves often continued working in the families as teachers, secretaries or confidants and were even seen as members of the family. Others sought occupations in the cities (e.g. as scribes or as artists).

2.) The Society of the Empire

The Ealdian society of the empire was a blend of the Darian society of the kingdom mixed with Gurian and Nyralian influences.

In Darian society the chiefs of the important clans (gentes) took the first position in the social hierarchy. In war they were the military leaders who chose the battle chief (princeps) as the high commander out of their own ranks. The able-bodied men and youths were organized into Decanes (derived from the original ten clans of the Darians) which constituted the basic unit of the Ealdians in a fight. These Decanes (not to be confused with the Groups of Ten of the later Legion) were subdivided into five centuries, each under the command of a clan chief.

In the kingdom these Decanes were also the basis of taxation. The more able-bodied men a family could bring into a Decanis, the less taxes it paid. The main thought here was that a family with less able-bodied members could more easily earn a living than a family with many able-bodied men and youths. In this way a balance between families was be obtained.

At the time of the kingdom an aristocracy had developed out of the important families, which assisted the king in the Imperial Council as legislative assembly. These leading families claimed a considerable part of the realm as land property on behalf of their size and their "historic" venerability. Therefore the greater part of the heartlands of the Ealdian Realm (the so-called Ealda Maior comprised the area between the Inner Sea and the Darus, the Seos and the Druna-Hills) was shared out among the at the time 120 leading families (gentes pricipi). The respective size of such a land property naturally also determined the wealth of their owner.

When Gurum and Nyral entered into the empire, a mixture of the Darian, Gurian and Nyralian ruling classes took place and subsequently the number of members in the Imperial Council was also raised to 300. Who was able to afford it moved into the city of Eald and converted his land property partly into gold or took on an administrator to run the business.

The rich Gurian and Nyralian merchants could in fact not be admitted into the Imperial Council, but due to their wealth they were an important element in the power-structure of the realm-- partly because of agreements with the Legion, partly through their support of members of the Council and in a lesser degree by rising to the position of an Imperial Councillor. Because the greater the territory of the empire became, the more insignificant the wealth resp. the prosperity which arose from the land property of an Imperial Councillor could be when compared to that of a merchant. There were some merchants for example whose domicile in Eald or the surrounding territory was bigger and more splendid that that of the chief of a clan.

Of course there were also some land-owners which were not rated among the most influential clans, but which nonetheless attained wealth and recognition through their importance for the food-supply. Because these seldom were interested in moving to Eald, they stayed in the cities of the provinces and could advance in the social hierarchy as members of a City Council or as Imperial Councillors.

The Imperial Councillors enjoyed a similar high respect like the members of the Imperial Council. Mostly they came from the legions or through a career in the Magistrate. If they were former officers of the legion they were either nominated by the emperor, because they served under him (like, for example, the Army Commander of the North, Rutus an Daruga by Fyramon the Great) or because they recommended themselves through their position in the army (e.g. retiring Army Commanders or Legionoi). Those councillors which came from the Magistrate (and, later on, also from the City Councils) were recommended by the Imperial Council to the emperor as the peak of their career. For this to apply they either had to have been civil servants for at least twentyfive years or they must have held a leading position in one of the four bodies. From the fifth century onwards also high-ranking City Councils or Judges could be made Imperial Councillors ("de qualitate oficii" -- as it read in their certificat of appointment -- "because of their valuable service").

In the beginning civil servants (that is civil servants of the Magistrate, Judges and Imperial Councillors) received no payment; they had to pay for their living out of their own personal funds (e.g. from land property, if they came from one of the leading families). To a certain extent, though, civil servants could be paid for certain services -- for example as advocvates in a lawsuit. The Quaestors for example, responsible for the imposition of taxes, received a small percentage of the collected money for recompensation. But in the beginning you could not get rich as a magistrate. From the period of the Seperate Constitutions onwards (720 a.GR.) they got an annual subsidy from the treasury (in both realms). The richer cities sometimes also paid a subsidy to their city magistrates or they even paid them regularly.
Thus it is not surprising that from the seventh century onwards rich merchants or big landowners played a not underestimatable role through the bribery of civil servants.

Naturally the ordinary population had to suffer to a growing degree by all this. In the beginning of the empire the small farmers and cattle breeders had only few problems to earn their living. With the extension of the empire to Gurum and Nyral, with the growing need for basic foods this hard but productive way of living could have been continued. But the growing influence of the big landowners changed everything. More and more the demand for basic foods was provided by exactly those parts of the empire, in which the big landowners resided, so that the small farmers became impoverished.

For the sons of these farmers there were only three solutions:
1.) they tried to make their fortune in the cities (for example by paying their way into one of the traders' guilds with their inheritance);
2.) they sold themselves with their land off to the big landowners as tenants (coloni);
3.) or they went to the Legion.
In each case the chance of social advancement was but small. If one found a place in the collegiae (which was rather difficult or costly because of the guild regulations) or the legion, the livelihood was secured. Especially in the fourth century the demand for tradesmen grew considerably. The emperors -- and here particularly
Saros III., Saros IV., Lyndon I. and Apatus the Great -- extended the importance of the provinces by the foundation of garrison towns (e.g. Ratiudum, Cardum or Dum-Sara).

With the growing crisis of the state starting in the seventh century (Second Invasion of the Terian Nomads, the years of the Many-Emperors-Rule, the beginning of the Decadence under Ragoras V. and the growing erosion of the authority of the state since the times of Fyramon the Great) also the difference between rich landownership and impoverished tenants resp. small farmers grew more and more. The fact that, in the end, especially the begin of the Migration of the peoples and the centralisation of the realm were responsible for the fall of the empire, may not mislead us about the fact that the powers of resistance were greatly undermined by this difference between rich and poor. One can suspect that the empire would have fallen because of this difference even without the invasion of the Vosals and the Arans.

A final remark concerning the classification of provinces in the Ealdian Empire: When the empire developed, the following regions were given the title of a Major Province, i.e. a province whose inhabitants were given the status of citizens of the state: Ealda Maior, Gurum (i.e. the provinces Erdum and Xardum), Pardum and Nyradum (Nyral). The inhabitants of these provinces could call themselves citizens of the state, whose eminent right was the election of the 150 representatives of the people in the Imperial Council (until 280 a.GF. they numbered only 75). Each of these provinces provided a certain number of representatives.

The other provinces of the empire were divided into two categories: Half-Provinces and Minor Provinces (provinciae dimidiae and provinciae humiles). The inhabitants of both kinds of non-major provinces were not considered citizens of the state, meaning they had no right to vote. If they were wealthy enough, inhabitants of Half-Provinces could at least become city councillors or civil servants of the provinces' Magistrates. The Minor Provinces were considered part of the empire, but their inhabitants had no access to Ealdian offices whatsoever and were not allowed to vote. The Vassal Kingdoms, the Lychango-Confederation or the Terians were numbered among this group of provinces.

In the sixth century the provinces Milum (586) and Sardum (618) were declared Major Provinces, Ratiudum, Abdum-Ra and Blodum Half-Provinces.


Imperium Ealdum