The Bokisig Confederation was the major political entity of the Bokisig people as well as likely the entire eastern seaboard of southern Damta throughout at least the second half of the ninth millennium PS.
The Beginnings Edit
The Bokisig people descended from hunter-gatherer tribes that had been populating the savannah of the eastern seabord of southern Damta (E4) since at least approximately PS7,500. The survival of the tribes, who at that time were speaking Proto-Bokisig, was under constant threat not only by nature and foreign foes, but also internal fighting between tribes and clans. The common language provided a bond, and a common enemy provided urgent impetus for some sort of unification: Around PS8,000, an offshoot of the Txabao people from the desert to the west of the highlands and mountain range ventured onto the territory peopled by the Bokisig.
The Warring Age Edit
In these wars, later referred to as Me’uat (/mɛʔu-at/, ABL-struggle; i.e. struggle away [from the established order]”) in Early Bokisig, the hunter-gatherers were no match for the camel cavalries of the Txabao, and the latter managed a series of quick conquests. The camel – or rather the name of the Txabao camel-deity “Neidu” – also was the source for the Bokisig exonym for this invading people, Nëduki /nedu-ki/, “camel-people”.
By around PS8200 the tribes had been fully pushed into the southeast of the savannah, behind the river Katas (/katas/; eternal water) and a kingdom the Bokisig referred to as Nëdusu was formed in the western and northern part. However, the success of that kingdom was short-lived; while the savannah provided rich game, namely the hadrosaurids called Abomhiz (/a’bomhiz/, “ground-shaker”) in Early Bokisig, the newcomers lacked the experience and skill set necessary to successfully live off the lands of that savannah. The kingdom had overstretched itself and had to rely on plundering and even keeping camels for food.
Meanwhile, by around 8,300, the Bokisig people had regrouped in the southeast and established fortified settlements in this land as a confederation of tribes later termed Bokisig (/boki-sig/, “gathering of nomads/hunters/gatherers”). Furthermore, they combined their invention of the wheel with domesticated camels – either caught in the wild, after they had escaped the Nëduki, or captured directly from the latter – to construct and field camel-drawn war chariots, which finally gave them an edge over the Nëduki forces.
Thus ensued the successful yet bloody wars of reconquest called Bo’at (/bo-ʔat/, LAT-struggle; i.e. “struggle to get back towards [the established order]”), during which a large swathe of land up to the highlands in the west was won back, and most of the remaining Nëduki fell back to a small kingdom in the north of the savannah and south of the desert to the north of it. Those Neduki who fled back to their ancestral homeland, the desert to the west of the highlands and Kadolëkom (/ka-dole-kom/, eternal-mountain-forest) mountain range bisecting the continent, brought with them the Bokisig invention of the wheel, spurring huge growth of the Txabao civilization in the Western deserts of the continent.
With the external threat of the Nëduki all but disappeared by around PS8,350, the confederation now covering most of the savannah was more susceptible to in-fighting between tribes and clans, as evidenced by the uprisings of the Sëhinsig clanand Kë’ohu chiefdom during the early 8400s. Such full-blown civil war, however, did not recur after the successful suppression of these revolts – this may be at least partly due to the introduction of large-scale exogamous marriage between clans, based upon a development that had already taken place on a smaller scale in the southeast as a means of strengthening bonds between tribes, as stable relationships had been a prerequisite for being able to muster up the resources to successfully defend the land and make use of new technologies to then lead the reconquest. In addition, the loose-federation system then put in place for peace time respected the fierce independence of the individual tribes and clans.
First Confederation Edit
During the first confederation (approximately PS8,350 to 8,720), lifestyle and technological changes occurred, though they were resisted by some groups.
The assimilation of those conquered Nëduki people who did not flee or were forcibly driven out varied between tribes, with wholesale enslavement at the one end of the spectrum and almost complete assimilation at the other. Only in some larger hubs strategically placed at crossroads of trade and transport routes did a culturally distinct diaspora remain; it was this diaspora that also enabled commerce with the nascent Txabao trade power to the west through mountain pass routes. This role was so crucial that it even resulted in the Txabao numbering system being used for trade and business purposes well into the second half of the age of the confederation, after which the system merged with the native system.
Domesticated camels, brought into the area by the Neduki, were adopted by most clans as beasts of burden (pulling carts as well as riding), and agriculture was adopted most fertile areas. The areas where population had concentrated around fortresses during the wars experienced urbanisation, and it was around these fortified cities that advanced agriculture was pursued most intensely. In particular, the area on the southeastern half of the river Katas, after the confluence with the river Setas at Katassig, as well as its tributaries, with a lot of the population concentrating around the fortress-turned-city Ugpessot (/ug-pɛs-sot/, AUG-stone-shelter; i.e. “large stone fortress”) since the days of the great wars.
Inspired by the now-widespread use of camels, attempts at domesticating the Abomhiz – that had until then been equally feared, venerated and hunted– were made, but this was a venture fraught with failure until the discovery of rich iron deposits in the western highlands and mountains propelled further technological advances.
A major fact in unifying the tribes of the confederation was the link between religion and power. All the tribes shared a general polytheistic belief system that was referred to as Xi’osaku, but there were differences regarding the significance of both specific deities and religious office holders. In the tribal hierarchy, there already was a lot of overlap between religious office and leading or supporting positions. Once the political landscape had changed to a confederation between city-states and other entities under firmer central leadership from the de-facto capital in the East, Ugpessot, religion also become more organised, although it kept a number of decentralised features. Under influence from the marriage system, which had so far been based on exogamous marriage outside one’s own tribe, developing into a moiety system, the religion split into two distinctive branches, which were considered to complement another – a compromise to satisfy as many adherents as possible under a “big tent” religion with a semblance of choice.
The two branches are Kasa (/ka-sa/, “eternal language”, “language of the gods”) and Xi’osahëku (/xiʔosaheku/, “the fact of being puzzling/mysterious”). All the faithful belong to only one of the branches, and marriages are only allowed between adherents of the opposing branches; children attending religious schools are allowed to choose their faith upon reaching puberty, with the possibility of switching later one single time. The choice is “locked in” upon marriage – or the decision to pursue a religious office. Which religious offices are available and the selection process for them depends on the branch.
Political landscape of the First Confederation Edit
While the urbanisation in the east had originally been the consequence of forced fortification triggered by the Txabao wars, its advantages – amongst them a relatively more secure environment, a more organized approach to agriculture and more social contact, which in turn resulted in more technological and societal advances - resulted in population growth.
Therefore, the population in the west also slowly began to adopt urbanisation during the age of the confederation; however, the western half was still primarily inhabited by tribes or clans with either an elected or hereditary chieftain referred to as Pim at the helm, who reported directly to the confederation’s leadership. None of these chiefdoms could be fully considered hunter-gatherers nor fully nomadic anymore, and all had begun to build capitals and other settlements.
Religiously, they usually followed one branch or the other as a whole (which, due to the exogamous marriage system based on religious branches mentioned above thus required inter-marriage with other chiefdoms). A good number of them were also quasi-monotheistic in their worship of a primary deity, such as for instance the Kë’ohu, who adhered to the Xi’osahëku branch and dedicated themselves to worshipping solely Ke. Notably, they were not only one of the bigger chiefdoms overall, but would probably have been the by far the most populous had it not been for their failed rebellion against the rule of the confederation, due to which they had to supply a huge proportion of their able-bodied men and women to the standing army of the confederation. One purpose of this standing army was to protect the western and northern border regions still threatened by the Nëdusu - this force was referred to as the Sixsabom (singular /six-sabom/, edge-warrior; plural /six-sabom-sig/; furthermore, /six-sabom-kom/ [edge-warrior-forest] came to be used for either the whole of the border forces, or a specific contingent, and then also for the borderlands geographically).
In the southeast, a capital that represented the confederation’s centre of power and whose administration lay in the same hands like that of the Confederation itself had formed around the fortress of Ugpessot. The surrounding lands had the highest concentration of tribes in the whole of the Confederation, given that it was here that the whole population had been forced to concentrate during the long war against the Nëduki. The Kë’ohu and the Isaz had been the quickest to completely move back to their homelands in the West and North, respectively, and thus had a huge advantage in resettling those areas, giving them more influence. Smaller tribes in the southeast choosing to stay there as well as the native population of the area was largely assimilated to the stronger chiefdoms there, namely the Sehinsig and Atbata, or moved towards the coast.
Early Development of the structure of the Confederation itself Edit
The first man (or woman) in the confederation was the Saghop (/saɣop/), who commanded the standing army defending the confederation against external threats. Collecting and recruiting the necessary supplies and able-bodied men and women from the tribes and chiefdoms was the responsibility of tax collectors and marshals, named by the Saghop. The holder of the position was elected by the individual chiefdoms, with each chieftain casting one vote, and initially seen as little more than a ceremonial role during peacetime. The names of the first few Saghop are lost to history, but the records refer to all of them as capable commanders with no remarkable involvement in other politics; they also indicate that, as a symbol for their serving the interest of the whole confederation, they gave up their tribal name for their elected term of 10 years each, after which no re-election was possible. Later on, the role became an appointment for lifetime, but it was still customary for a Saghop to submit themselves to a public trial after lost military campaigns, and to stand down after successful ones.
The role of the Saghop became more important during the uprisings between PS 8,425 and 8,450, and from these civil wars on, most of the names of the Saghop are known. The rebellion by the Sehinsin tribe was brutally crushed by a Saghop given the by-name Ugatki (/ʔugatki/ AUG-war-person, i.e. “great warrior”; NB that /ʔatki/ is used only in names - /sabom/ is the normal word for “warrior”), while that of the Kë’ohu resulted in a prolonged civil war between that chiefdom and the standing army led by Zahe Mazsotmog (/za-hɛ mazsot-mog/, two-GEN west-child); i.e. “Mazsotmog [name] the Second”, so there must have been one earlier Saghop with that name). After achieving a narrow victory, he showed magnanimous restraint in dealing with the Kë’ohu chiefdom – only the remaining warlords not already slain in battle were executed, and the population was forced to give up no more than around a third of their lands as well as required to provide a larger quota for the standing army; the Kë’ohu chiefdom even kept both its active and passive suffrage in the Saɣop elections.
After achieving this compromise, Zahɛ Mazsotmog resigned, but not without issuing a list of recommendations to be considered by the electors choosing his successor: to prevent attacks by external threats in this time of weakness for the confederation due to the ravishing civil war, the gods should be appeased by greater focus on religious worship, and trade ties fostered by giving the capital the power to negotiate trade on behalf of the individual chiefdoms; to avoid future rebellions, unity should be strengthened by giving the office of the Saɣop more political power; and last not least, to implement these policies, there was nobody better suited than his daughter Bomhu, so she should be elected in his stead. It was a bold move, but successful, and Bomhu was elected narrowly, notably with the support of the Kë’ohu elector.
Compromise between Fire and Bow Edit
(Senë Mu’aguma Biso [/senɛ muaguma biso/])
One of the new policies Bomhu introduced to realise her father’s vision was one that not only saved a religious tradition from likely extinction, but also had a huge impact on the agriculture of the whole country. The religious office of the Sëhu (/se-hu/, fire-builder), from the Xi’osahëku tradition, had customarily been the ceremonial keepers of fire, the only one permitted to handle that essential yet dangerous power; in the wake of societal and technological development, this restriction had, however, become untenable a long time ago. Therefore, the Sëhu had over time been forced to fulfil a solely ceremonial role.
Since the advent of agriculture, slash-and-burn had been the cultivation method of choice for the Bokisig people: areas with high tree density were turned into family-owned plots of land by controlled burning, and these were used until the soil was exhausted, at which point the family moved on, and the land was allowed to recover and regrow. The distribution of the lands was traditionally negotiated between families within tribes and chiefdoms, but in the wake of the population growth during the early years of the confederation, this had frequently given rise to disputes. In order to forestall such disputes in the future as well as strengthen an old religious office – while also centralising power - Bomhu decided that the Sëhu should now govern all matters regarding land use and controlled burning.
Not only the political manoeuvre, but also the theology made perfect sense. The compelling religious logic justifying the change was that the Sëhu traditionally had been the arbiters of the use of fire, that precarious gift from the gods, and that the soil and trees were ultimately subservient to the fire. Giving laypersons, who on the one hand had not undergone the ritual training like the Sëhu, and on the other hand had a vested interest in when and where to slash-and-burn, any say on the use of fire for agriculture was naturally prone to anger the gods. And this was something that could not be risked, lest they send down heavenly sparks to let fires spiral out of control or, worse even, retract their divine gift by call all means of making fire back to heaven, leaving humanity bereft of artificial sources of light and heat.
Sometime later, when the conflicts arose between tax collectors and Sëhu, and the dual pressure of tax collectors and Sëhu on farming families resulted in widespread discontent, it became apparent the policy needed some fine-tuning, to more clearly delineate the respective rights and responsibilities. This is known as the Compromise between Fire and Sickle, which soon became the term to refer to the whole policy and all the associated changes.
The Atbata dynasty (PS8,597 – 8,720) Edit
For somewhat over two centuries, the presidency of the confederation kept changing hands between rulers from different chiefdoms and families; rulers came to frequently issue recommendations for their successor, which were traditionally given more weight if the ruler stepped down while in good stead with most of the chief-electors. A full hereditary monarchy was, however, not established until the early 8600s, when the Atbata chiefdom, named after the clan of the same name, made their way to power.
When the almost thirty-year reign of Namhe (IV) Mazsotmog was ended by his death after a long sickness, the chief-electors were not entirely unwilling to follow the late ruler’s recommendation to elect his wife Listo as his successor, though there were some misgivings about once again voting for a member of the same house, especially one that looked set to rule for a very long time, being healthy and just on the cusp of adulthood. When, however, only ten days after her husband’s death, a freak accident involving a hadrosaurid claimed the life of the young queen-to-be, rumours were rife in the capital about how this could have happened – yet it was generally agreed upon as a sign by the gods, and Zahe (II) Lishëki, from the house of Atbata, was elected instead of another relative of the former president.
In the year PS8,611, Zahe (II) Lishëki fell victim to an assassination. It was first suspected that a relative of Listo out for vengeance over the Atbata’s presumed theft of the crown was responsible, and riots erupted in both the latter’s stronghold Atbatahe Sot and the capital; but an enquiry led by a Kasaki (scientist-priest) named Kibegh brought to light that a disgruntled former lover was responsible for the killing. Still, it was agreed by the electors that a neutral ruler would be the best solution in the current heated and paranoid political climate, and so Salis, another Kasaki, was elected as Saghop. Quite surprisingly, five years afterwards, he resigned, and recommended Lishëpim Atbata as his successor. The election was a shoe-in, as the Atbata had just before managed to ally themselves with multiple electors, paving the way for a hereditary monarchy, though one that would require a careful balancing act by the rulers.
The Atbata rulers were quite deft at this balancing act, keeping confirmatory elections a part of the large-scale festivities they introduced for the coronation of new Saghop, and on two occasions even allowing puppet-rulers, both from a humble, religious background, to be crowned. That they kept favour with the other chiefdoms was largely due to their success in expanding the empire – primarily in the northeast.
Up until that time, the lands in the northeast had been poorly explored and only very thinly settled by Bokisig tribes for multiple reasons: the desert stretched further out from the Kadolëkom mountain range, leaving less land that could be used as hunting (and gathering) grounds; freshwater was a lot less readily accessible, making the area somewhat more inhospitable for both the tribes themselves and their food sources; and the Bokisig tribes were generally not very fond of the ocean, or even coastlands - which, to make matters worse, in that area were quite ragged.
Uzhe (III) Lëgtopim Atbata began the Tatasbo Lolo (/tatas-bo lolo, ocean-LAT journey; i.e. “Seawards Journey”) to finally claim this area by first establishing strategic strongholds during the 8630s, then connecting them to the rest of the empire by the Sesotsu Duma Agudo (/sɛsotsu duma road/, north/desert go.through road; i.e. Northern Road), a route that led from the westernmost reaches near the Kadolëkom through the Nëdusu kingdom in the desert – not part of the Bokisig empire, but associated, and despite rebellions from time to time considered fairly safe - to the newly-acquired northeastern areas; furthermore, the road branched off at Kasotbo Donedo (/kasot-bo donɛdo/: jungle-LAT angle; i.e. crossroads that leads to the south, or simply Southern Crossroads).
The area was not entirely unpopulated; there were both ethnic Bokisig and unrelated hunter-gatherer tribes in the area, but neither the population density nor the technology level in the interior was very high, and it was not very hard for Uzhe (III) Lëgtopim Atbata to convince all of the inland tribes that life under the confederation would be a better choice than resisting. The populace of this region was assimilated similarly quickly, and so the non-Bokisig languages as well as the Bokisig branch that had developed here were lost. From some villages on the coastline, where the more adventurous Bokisig had settled centuries ago, dedicating themselves primarily to fishing, sometimes even exploring the fearsome ocean further, the most successful of these seafaring Bokisig had reached and settled the eastern shore of the Great Bay, which was still unreachable for the Bokisig by land for more than a millennium to come, given the impassable northern jungle blocking any easy access. As the Bokisig remained uninterested in the ocean, contact with the East Bay peoples grew sporadic and all but ceased soon after the integration of the northeast into the confederation, resulting in the East Bay branch of Bokisig languages splitting off.
The end of the Atbata Dynasty and of the First Confederation Edit
The end of the Atbata rule could be seen as the sum of multiple military failures, multiplied by the factor of the growing dissatisfaction amongst the other chiefdoms and houses, who had become more and more unhappy with the principle of hereditary rule, mostly because it was not them with a firm grip on the crown and the ability to pass it on to their offspring. In the early 8700s, Saghop Uzhe (III) Lëgtopim Atbata set out to quell the unrest, namely by conquering new lands; his target was the Northwestern Desert Kingdom of Nëdusu, successor of the first Txabao kingdom east of the Kadolëkom range. While it had for a long time been a subservient vassal of the Confederation in all but name, recently there had been signs of more independent growth and aspirations, encouraged by trade ties with the Txabao to the west and discoveries of iron sources in the desert that rivalled those the Confederation itself had unearthed in the highlands at the westernmost edge of the Kë’ohu chiefdom.
The Nëdusu campaign was an utter failure, and Zahe Lishëpim returned humiliated, having been forced to sue for peace under unfavourable terms, accepting a levy on all transport through Nëdusu territory on the Northern Road. This was not the first time voices urging a return to the “old ways” of the Saghop subjecting themselves to a public trial where the failures would be assessed, but now they were growing so loud as to be hard to ignore, while Zahe Lishëpim tried to keep up the appearance of “business as usual”. He might well have got away with appeasing at least some of the frustrated parties, but his failure to act quickly was too much for the Isaz, a large chiefdom inhabiting the area bordering on the new lands in the Northeast the conquest of which had been one of the main achievements of the Atbata rulers. The arrangements made after this conquest had felt like a slap to the face for the Isaz: the newly-gained territory had been made a constituent of the confederation in its own right, namely one where each of the chiefdoms was able to re-settle unhappy peasants, while still gaining a large part of their taxation. The reason the Isaz had been so unhappy with this solution was that they had regarded these lands as their birthright, given they had had to single-handedly defend the confederation against any incursions coming from there, and also had already had some established relationships with peoples in the border areas. When the whole area was integrated into the Confederation, they had grudgingly accepted all of those previous efforts being reset to zero in the Grateful Settlement of 8672, which reduced the levies they had to provide the confederation to a token amount - but now their unhappiness erupted in open rebellion, and Sa’abomhiz Akmehihin declared the Isaz territories, including the whole Northeast, independent.
Given that the Isaz were still able to live up to their long-standing reputation as fierce warriors and, in addition, now had more soldiers than ever at their disposal – given they had not been obliged to provide huge levies anymore since the Grateful Settlement – Zahe (II) Lishëpim’s campaign against the rebellion was yet another military disaster, and an even bigger personal one for the man himself – he died in the First Battle at Podëzghuz, before the reinforcements that his oldest son, the new Saghop Namhe (IV) Lëgtopim, had commandeered from the Western Borderlands were beaten again in the Second Battle at Podëzghuz, and the new Saghop fled back to Ugpessot, leaving Sa’abomhiz Akmehihin free rein to claim the northeastern territories and use the title Saghop of Isaz.
Upon his return to the capital, Namhe (IV) Lëgtopim and his remaining entourage were greeted by an angry mob of citizens and the news that the Nëdusu kingdom had seized the opportunity to invade and occupy a chunk of the normally heavily guarded Western Borderlands, which had been left exposed by the new Saghop’s use of border troops to turn around the campaign against Isaz. Namhe (IV) Lëgtopim immediately resigned, appointing his younger brother Beɣsa as successor. The Confederative Diet, the gathering of representatives of the different chiefdoms – including Isaz, although it had recently declared itself independent – traditionally convened to elect a new ruler now had the whole future of the Confederation to decide.
Decisions by the Confederative Diet: A New System Edit
The first order of business was to decide about a new ruler who could – which would be the second order of business – negotiate peace with the Kingdom of Nëdusu. There was an overwhelming majority amongst the electors in favour of doing away with hereditary rule, and after some negotiating, two birds were killed with one stone: Sa’abomhiz Akmehihin would be elected the new Saghop under the conditions that he would bring the Isaz chiefdom back into the Confederation, and that he would not make any recommendations for a new ruler upon his resignation, which should take place in ten years’ time; Isaz would be allowed keep all the northeastern territories. More detailed rules for succession were to be decided later. In the peace negotiations with Nëdusu, losses had to be accepted, and Nëdusu annexed the occupied territories, which formed a good part of the Kë’ohu chiefdom.
In the subsequent trial, in which Namhe (IV) Lëgtopim was sentenced to death, the decisions about the future of the Confederation proved quite revolutionary. Each Saghop was to be elected for 10 years, and at least in theory could be re-elected indefinitely. The new structure divided the lands of the confederation into three parts:
- A western part consisting of the remnants of the Kë’ohu chiefdom – it was largely controlled by decentralised smaller clans and religious office-holders, and also comprised the iron-rich westernmost highlands;
- A Capital region that now additionally was to incorporate all of the lands of the Atbata chiefdom, and in which cities and villages could hold municipal elections, provided they did not fall under the rule of either of the two houses whose ancient rights in the area were given priority over the populace, the Atbata and the Mazsotmog; and
- The Isaz chiefdom stretching out over the whole northeast.
At the end of a Saghop’s term of office, each of the three parts of the confederation sent a single elector to Ugpessot for a vote about either keeping the Saghop in office, or installing a new ruler; if the decision was in favour of ousting the old Saghop, the electors had to agree on a new ruler. The elector for Keohu was chosen by the heads of the clans as well as religious office holders from all over the region, and they often ended up sending a popular Sëhu (priest); Isaz sent the hereditary Egpim (great-chief); and in the Capital region, the choice once more came down to a three-way vote, as their decision was made by the head of the Mazsotmog house, their Atbata counterpart as well as one representative chosen by the cities with free elections - in practice this meant that the people’s representative usually was able to choose between the head of either of the houses, favouring the one promising more favours for them and their electorate.