The Matriarchate of Periaslavl is the largest country in Shijuren, based on land size. It stretches generally east to west for around three thousand miles. It is ruled by the Velikomat, or Great Mother, usually with a designated heir, the Velikodoch, the Great Daughter.
Periaslavl is a matriarchate ruled by the Velikomat, or Great Mother (see below). As of 1711 MG, it is divided into 23 oblasts, all of which are ruled by a kniaz. Within each oblast are various subdivisions including towns and various landholdings including ones as small as individual izbas.
As a large and wealthy nation, Periaslavl faces raiding from several quarters. In the west, kreisarchs have routinely raided across the border, especially hoping to plunder caravans on the North Road. To the south are many harsh mountains from which nomadic raiders often appear. In the east, neighboring nobility of Amaranth often seek to fatten their purses.Anzhedonev Oblast, astride the largest east-west trade route in Shijuren, is a common target for them. In the northeast, the zaldun of Euskalerria will often cross the border less to raid villages and more to skirmish with the pomestniki stationed in the area.
They have better relations, though often touchy, with the realms in the northwest. Svellheim, the Seven Kingdoms, and the Western Isles all try to avoid major conflicts, especially concerning the Kreisens, as such conflict would like explode into a major war that none of them want. Much the same can be often said about the Empire of Makhaira, but the level of tension between the two largest powers in the world is often decided by the temperament of the current emperor. Emperor Nikephoros II, the emperor as of 1711 MG, has consistently tried to provoke all of his neighbors into a war.
A country as large as Periaslavl has a wide variety of natural resources. Seroigora Oblast is one of the largest iron mining producing areas in all Shijuren. Some of that iron ore is especially prized for impurities that make excellent steel. Little of this is exported, however, as most pomestniki arms and armor are forged from it. Silver, gold, copper, nickel, and tin are also found in the Kolyvan Mountains.
Across the southwestern regions of Periaslavl are vast forests of birch, oak, and elm. Sheep, goats, cattle are ranched through much of the west and northwest. In the east, on the steppes, are the major horse-rearing areas.
Periaslavl benefits from a number of excellent navigable rivers. The Mstov runs along the northern part from the Kolyvan Mountains to Woden's Sea. and during warmer times is a major trading route. In the southeast, the Irtysh River runs diagonally southwest to the Middle Sea. In the east, the Amyr River flows all the way to the Beloye Sea. These are just three in a bustling network of riverboat travel.
Two extremely important trade routes pass through Periaslavl. Along the western border, the North Road stretches from Kvivik in the north to Basilopolis in the south. Anzhedonev is the eastern terminus of a series of large lakes running from Achrida in the Empire of Makhaira. That route extends east from Anzhedonev through Markanda to various different ports and emporia in Amaranth. Given the length of the journey and consistently bad weather in the southern seas and oceans, this route is the most important way to get from east to west.
There are two main parts to the Periaslavlan military. The first, and most important, are the pomestniki. These are trained cavalry, skilled with lance, sword, and bow. They wear fairly heavy steel lamellar, shields, and helmets. Generally speaking, these are organized in troops of about 100-120 pomestniki. Each kniazi commands their own troop, as do the Great Husbands (see below). Other troops, commanded by boyars, are assigned to various ends of Periaslavl as needed.
In times of crisis, a kniaz may call for the opolcheniye, or people's army. All males are obliged to serve in the opolcheniye should the need arise. Women are permitted to serve as well, and often do. In the central and northern oblasts, this service is rarely required. In border oblasts, especially in areas which are often raided, portions of the opolcheniye are almost always prepared for raiding.
Given Periaslavl's generally land-locked position, Periaslavl does not have much of a navy. Since their primary maritime focus is trade, they do occasionally assign troops of pomestniki to sail aboard merchant ships in times of increased piracy. This is rare, however, as almost all Periaslavlan sea-going merchant vessels are prepared to fend off pirates with slightly larger crews and heavier arms than might otherwise be needed. Also, Periaslavl benefits from their neighboring realms, all of whom have significant naval power and a vested interest in limiting piracy.
Finally, there is a force the Velikomats use for a variety of problems. These are the vestniki. While trained in various martial skills, especially the Euskalerrian martial art known as borrokakital, they are primarily spies and troubleshooters, not warriors. Given their training, their close contact with Periaslavl's nobility, and the kinds of tasks they perform, the pomestniki and the vestniki often do not get along. While this rivalry is perhaps to be expected, both groups are generally willing to work together to benefit Periaslavl. However, this rivalry has, on occasion, exacerbated other problems.
In 263, two nomadic groups reached, at about the same time, a flame rising from the ground on a bluff overlooking the Cheremshan River. The two groups fought for possession of the flame in what would become known as the Battle of the Pyre. The defeated group was driven away and has been lost to history. The other side, though victorious, lost its leader, Rurik Kyrre.
Rurik's heir, Volodomyr Rurikson, decided to feed Rurik's body to the flame, which then became known as Rurik's Pyre. Volodomyr also decided to found a settlement at the site. Because Rurik's tribe had been attacked several times by bears during their travels, the settlement was called Medvedgorod.
Over the following century, Volodomyr and his descendants founded several more settlements in the area. The most significant of these was the town of Ryazan, on the banks of the Irtysh River, founded in 291 MG by Hakon Rurikson, Volodomyr's brother and Rurik's second son.
Initially, Hakon accepted the primacy of Volodomyr. However, upon Volodomyr's death in 301 MG, he and both of Volodomyr's sons Rurik Volodomyrson and Jovan Volodomyrson, all claimed the title of velikokniaz. In the end, the three compromised without bloodshed, but it was a close-run thing. Hakon was named velikokniaz, Rurik became Kniaz of Ryazan, and the two pledged assistance to found a new area north and west from Medvedgorod on the Cheramshan River. This would become Chernigov.
Unfortunately, a similar conflict arose following the death of Hakon in 312 MG, as both Rurik and Jovan claimed the title. This time, the two faced each other in the Battle of Ryazan, in which many of Periaslavl's best warriors perished. Jovan emerged victorious, but suffered grave wounds. He died in 346 MG, at which point all five of the sons of both Rurik and Jovan stepped forward to claim the title.
The Velikomats of Periaslavl
Helga Mikhailovna (348-387)
Feodora Borisovna (387-498)
Lizaveta Radoslavna (498-572)
Diana Aleksandrovna (572-664)
Bogdana Bogdanovna (664-701)
Ivanna Mikhailovna (701-792)
Lyudmilya Sergeiovna (792-894)
Nadya Miroslavna (894-967)
Aleksandra Aleksandrovna (967-1043)
Alisa Iosefnovna (1043-1054)
Marya Vasilovna (1054-1112)
Agata Dominovna (1112-1201)
Gavriila Gennadovna (1201-1361)
Katenka Fedorovna (1361-1423)
Ustinya Vasilovna (1423-1501)
Olga Sergeiovna (1501-1629)
Irina Ivanovna (1629-1711)
Anzhela Tomanovna (1711-Present)
For two years, the various claimants competed for the title of velikokniaz. In general, all of the claimants were smart enough to want to avoid a major battle, though they fought many small skirmishes as their alliances shifted.
Finally, the people of Periaslavl had had enough. The tradesmen, skilled workers, major landowners, and all but a small fraction of the kurioi from the entire Grand Duchy stepped in. Facing the prospect of fighting not only the other four claimants, but also the entire population, the claimants sought some form of compromise.
In the end, the only possible compromise required the leader of Periaslavl to come from someone other than the family of Rurik. All eyes turned to Helga Mikhailovna, already beloved by many within the realm, matriarch of a prosperous merchant family, and widely known as one of the most powerful ocharovat ever to come from Periaslavl.
Helga accepted the title of Velikomat in 348 in a ceremony held in the Firehall. At the moment where she stepped up to the throne, Rurik's Pyre flared to the ceiling. All present took this as a favorable omen. In return, she built the original Dvorets Materi, or "Castle of the Mother," as an extension of the Firehall. Her successors have enlarged and improved the Dvorets Materi over the year, but always ensured that the Firehall would be available to all who wished to visit.
Helga also realized that Rurik's Pyre could amplify her power over emotions. In the small collection of towns and cities that formed Periaslavl under her direction, she discovered that with the Pyre's help she could influence emotions across the whole country. By keeping her people optimistic, she found they grew more food, produced more goods, and built more than ever.
By 360, Periaslavl saw the most prosperous time the land had ever seen, thanks to Helga's skilled leadership combined with her powerful magic. However, at this point Helga was 74 and though she seemed in excellent health, people wondered what would happen when she died.
With the power to amplify her magic in mind, Helga reached out to ask Feodora Borisovna if she would be the Great Mother's heir. Though only 19 at the time, Feodora was already recognized as a talented ocharovat in her own right despite coming from a relatively poor family. Her background proved useful, as all the wealthier families could accept her where they would have objected to one of their rival families gaining that much power and prestige.
Helga named Feodora her Great Daughter, the Velikodoch. Again, this was done in the a ceremony held in the Firehall. Again, Rurik's Pyre flared to the ceiling. This became the accepted seal of approval for the position.
In 387, despite remaining surprisingly healthy for a woman 101, Helga stepped down as Velikomat and Feodora stepped up. Helga, again despite her age, soon left Medvedgorod, though few knew her destination.
Feodora, at this point, was 46, yet she looked as if she hadn't aged a day. She chose her Velikodoch, Lizaveta Radoslavna, in 443. By this point, all knew some form of magic had to have assisted her, for she was now 102 and still looked 19. She stepped down in 498, now over a century and a half old, and Lizaveta became Velikomat.
This, too, became accepted. The Velikomat would rule as long as she wished, seeming not to age at all, and choosing her successor at some point in her rule. This successor would then repeat the process. It has provided Periaslavl with extremely stable and skilled leadership, with only the death of Alisa Iosefnovna in 1054 in The Days of Sadness interrupting their smooth transition of power. Fortunately, the Pyre flared the moment Marya Vasilovna, a successful ocharovat and poet, stepped into the Firehall. The line of the Velikomat has proceeded ever since.
Most of the area around Periaslavl during the early centuries was occupied only by small nomadic tribes, of the type that Rurik had led. Periaslavl grew quickly in those early centuries and Feodora realized that she needed help so she decided to get married. This man, Igor Antonov, became the first Great Husband.
None of the Great Mothers have, ironically, borne any children. However, Igor Antonov also seemed to possess the long life enjoyed by the Velikomat. He became a brilliant general, a wise advisor, and a beloved connection between the Great Mother and her people. Lizaveta recognized Igor's importance, and soon chose her own husband, Fedor Radoslavich.
Following Feodora stepping down in 498, they people of Periaslavl discovered the price Igor paid for his position. While Feodora remained in fine health until she left Medvedgorod, Igor passed suddenly, as if each day was a decade of his life. He died a frail, ancient creature within two weeks of Feodora stepping down.
In 1054, Marya Vasilovna was already married at the time of her accepting the title of Velikomat after Alisa Iosefnovna's death from the plague that ravaged Periaslavl. Upon taking the title, she faced increased threats to Periaslavl from nomads to the east, the Empire of Makhaira to the south, and the devastation caused by the plague. She decided to marry Alisa's husband Ivan Sergeiovich in the hopes that he would not die as all the other Great Husbands had.
Her plan worked. She was able to take advantage of his wisdom and experience as well as that of her first husband, who also found his life extended. She also discovered that having two Great Husbands allowed her to have strong, wise leadership in two different places in Periaslavl. When she picked her Velikodoch, Agata Dominovna, she urged her to marry two husbands as well.
By the 14th century, Periaslavl had grown to encompass nearly all the northern portion of Allyria. Katenka Fedorovna decided to marry three husbands, which has become the accepted traditional number of Great Husbands up to the 18th century.
- The banners of Periaslavl are white with a red, orange, and gold flame in the center.
- The personal standard of the Velikomat adds a gold border around the banner.
- The standard of the Velikodoch has a red border.
- The standard of the Great Husbands of the Velikomat charges the flame with a black bar.
- The Husbands of the Velikodoch have no personal heraldry and display the standard of their wife when necessary.