The sixth entry in the Valese History of the World chronicles a period of social reorganization. As Valia's border and population grew over the last centuries of the first millennium, the old meritocratic system became unable to cope with the internal divisions brought on by the diversity of the empire. At the same time, the strength of the religious institutions would conspire to evolve a new form of government and usher in a new era. V. From Many to Few: 650 CE to 1100 CE In 650 CE the Valese council seated in Valance, composed almost exclusively of the wealthiest merchants from the four "national cities" [see footnote], initiated what is arguably their final successful endeavor: the claiming and settling of the Big Island for Valia. The island was to be put under the administration of Far East, from where the fleet battling the Big Islanders originated, while a regiment of bowmen was provided by Tidings. A series of minor skirmishes were fought to clear the way for permanent settlement over the course of the 7th and 8th centuries, culminating in the 800 CE Battle of Big Island. The Valese victory at this encounter effectively ended native control of the island. The Big Island, a resource rich island in the Eastern Sea, was at some point in prehistory settled by peoples originating in Japan to the east. The Valese claim to the island was based off of military and naval might, leading to a brief schism between Tidings and Siam, who also had their eyes on settlement. While the eastern half of the country was busy with expansion, Valance was free to undertake large-scale projects. The threat of invasion by Babylon was always present in the Valese consciousness, with some proven conspirators among the Nijai in the west. The Great Wall of Valance was initiated circa the year 680 CE, with the most express purpose of protecting the capital, and the four ancient wonders spread between it and Tidings: the Hanging Gardens, the Great Pyramid, the Great Monoliths, and the Oracle of Cancer in Tidings. The Great Wall of Valance was completed in 840 CE, bringing the total number of Wonders in Valia to five. Although unknown to the Valese during the Middle Ages, modern scholars of course know that this placed Valia first on the rankings of most large scale projects constructed, one more than the Maya. Around the middle of the 9th century, two important events took place. The city of Comings was founded, becoming the official center of the Big Island, and by the end of the century all native encampments were razed. At the same time, a new regional power established the first formal relations with the Valese government: the Celts. Although the Celts were known to the Valese (primarily as some distant rival of the Japanese), they had yet to entreat with their leaders. The early settlement of Comings in the center of the Big Island, was the first offshore Valese territory. The location of the Celtic capital Edinburgh, southwest of Japan. This map dates from circa 850 CE; note the lack of knowledge of a route across the Eastern Sea, and the isolation of the Nijai city Miyasachan in the far west. The decision to claim the Big Island two centuries previous was more fortuitous than the Valese council could ever have known-- with the Siamese, Japanese, and Celts on all sides, the city of Comings quickly became a crucial center for international contact, a way station for commerce, military expeditions, and even religious missions. Wihda had by this time become even more central in the lives of most Valese over the centuries, particularly after 770 CE when a great prophet appeared in Valance claiming to be the reincarnation of the founder of the Church. His preachings lead to a reinvigoration of religion that vastly increased its reach and the rate of proselytizing. In fact, this uptick in religious fervor is seen as largely responsible for the gradual shift in Valese politics, from one of meritocracy dominated by commercial interests, to an oligarchy backed by the Church. Demographers estimate of Valia's rankings in the world circa 900 CE. With rapid growth in the eastern cities, the population passed one million for the first time, putting previously unknown levels of stress on the government and on resources. Over the course of the 10th century unrest grew and grew as infrastructure struggled to keep up with the number of citizens. The 10th-11th centuries were perhaps the most transformational yet in the history of Valia. In 940 CE the Writers Guild was established in Far East with the inaugural poetry competition that is still held every 5 years. The famous "Lament of the Valese" was written for this first occasion, famously detailing the unrest of the times:"What tidings bring the Oracle now, While the rulers grow fat on crab, and the crab eat better than the people..." A few seemingly well intended but poorly managed attempts were made by the Council to improve the mood of the common people. In 960 CE the small island north of Comings, known as Banana Island, was purchased by the government for the purpose of cultivating that fruit. However it would be several hundred years before the plantations were of any use. They turned instead to the purchase of coliseums in Tidings and Far East, a measure of appeasement that met with limited success. The most spectacular failure occurred in the year 1000, with the "whale riots of Tidings. In a suspect deal, a particularly zealous (or perhaps just greedy) council member hailing from one of the oldest merchant families, signed a deal to trade whale products with the Siamese in exchange for gold. The promise was made to the regional council in Tidings that new acquired whale hunting grounds off of the Big Island would be exploited, avoiding any disruption in the supplies of goods provided by whaling. This promise was, like that of the banana plantations, not kept, and the ensuing shortages resulted in riots in Tidings that crippled productivity and growth for many years. The southern archipelago was first sighted during the 11th century. Note that at this time, Tidings and Far East (as well as their controlling of Big Island) outstripped Valance in importance. The threat of being "outshined" lead the capital city to turn its attention south, to these newly discovered lands, and to an unlikely new partner: the Nijai in Miyasachan. This realignment of the heart of Valia away from the East and its Siamese sympathies, would have major consequences in the years to come. At the start of the 12th century, the complex social forces that had been at work throughout the nation came together to result in a revolution. The ineptitude of the Council, which had ruled for more than a millennium, was blamed for the unrest that was crippling the east and stifling the west. The Wihda church leaders conspired with one council member to proclaim Valia a monarchy, a kingdom ruled by divine right. Arris I was crowned by the patriarch of the church in the year 1100 CE, the Council was disbanded, and the people rejoiced. The tighter control offered by the Crown ended the unrest, leaving Valia a stronger nation and ushering in a golden age of peace, known as the Pax Arrista. fin part VI. *footnote: the four "national cities", as they are still sometimes called, were Valance, Tidings, Far East, and Miyasachan (modern day Nijazahan). They were so named not only because they are the oldest, but also by right of hosting regional capitols-- Valance for the Central region (and of course for the nation as a whole), and the other three for the North, East, and West, respectively. - - - - - - - - - - About this story: Many years ago I was active in the Civ community (think AOL file sharing system to download maps!) and we used to post stories and run statistics on our shared games. I've really been enjoying BNW and decided to take some time to do a story. This game was played as the Dutch but with everything renamed, to help suspend disbelief about the plausibility of this reality. The difficulty was Prince level, and many in-game choices were made for the sake of the story, not for the sake of scoring. I have completed the whole game and will include "facts" throughout the history as they become relevant. Comments are very welcome!