Of all the kingdoms, realms and empires that have risen and fallen in Aralath, Alindor (Al. Alindurya 'Sun Realm' or 'Land of the Sun') was the greatest. At its height it's Empire encompassed more of the world than any had before, or since, and the cultural seeds it scattered have borne fruit across the world.
As the Empire spread it took with it Alindorean culture and ideas concerning religion, government, politics, economics and civic order. The very language of the realm, Alinduryi, itself became highly influential, and is the tongue from which many modern languages (such as Almeidan, Kendish, Selmari, etc) descend.
The religious tradition of Alindor was heavily influential as well. The motif of the Sacred Serpents left its imprint around the world. It can be seen among the Druids of Keledon, who hold serpents as sacred and personify magic as the Dragon; among the adherents of Tharan, who speak of Lurana Kayni's Serpent Path to wisdom; and within the High Path, which holds the One too lofty and remote, and whose adherents approach the Absolute through the intermediary of the Magedar, or saints.
The Empire of Alindor endured for nearly half a millenium; it's end was catastrophic enough that the modern calendar begins its years with that of Alindor's fall--1 A.S., or "after sun", referencing the ubiquitous symbol of the Empire. In its earliest years it was lean, expansive and glorious. Lands that fell under its dominion were soon gifted with roads; schools; the security of a standing army; justice; and prosperity. After an initial expansion period, it was increasingly less common for the Empire to expand militarily; the promise of prosperity encouraged many smaller, less capable states to seek status as vassals. Alindor was advanced culturally, socially, philosophically and technologically, and it shared its advancements with all who bent the knee.
As time passed, however, the Empire gradually grew bloated, heavy and ponderous under its own incredible weight. The bureaucracy needed to manage the vast territory was expensive, byzantine and sprawling. Accustomed to luxury and fabulous wealth the Emperors had allowed their power to erode, and the Priesthood, so central to the governing of the Empire, increased its own power and authority until it outstripped that of the throne.
Alindor's eventual end was based in its deep spirituality. At the end of each twenty year period of his reign the Emperor would hold a great religious festival designed to renew his strength and that of the Empire. This coincided with the great Damwe pilgrimage. In the final year of the Empire's existence, when a million pilgrims from across the Empire had gathered on the plain outside the capital a slow and deadly plague began to infect the population. While the disease was highly contagious, and deadly, it took weeks to manifest symptoms--weeks during which it was most contagious. Unwittingly the pilgrims returned home, bringing the plague with them throughout the Empire. By year's end the population was ravaged, that of the capital nearly obliterated, and the Empire descended into chaos.
As Alindor's influence spread out beyond its borders
The religion of the great empire still persists today at brought with it learning, s well, although it has fallen considerably.
According to the oldest tales of Alindurya its people were blessed with a noble destiny from the earliest days of time.
According to the Alindoreans they descended from a heroic figure called Indalin ("sprang [from the] sun"). Indalin was a sun god, born among mortals in secret to experience life as a mortal, and learn their ways. In his early adolescence Indalin met a sabaar, or priest of the Two Serpent Path, who read the fortune of the young man and proclaimed his the savior of his people. Other sabaar and subiri came to disprove these claims, an each left as convinced as the last. Indalin adopted the faith of the Twin Serpents. and spent the next ten years traveling and learning as much about the world as he could. He traveled as far as Chong-Di and Shatiulbar.
When he returned home, so the story goes, Indalin found his clan enslaved by a newly risen local warlord. He met with the small and ineffective resistance. At a secret ceremony the sabaar and subiri manifested the Two Serpents, who spoke to Indalin, and a new spirit of war and kingship who had not come before. And they blessed him, and commanded him to carve out for himself an empire; to remember himself for the god he was; and to bring his light to those in darkness. So the story goes.
After this Indalin galvanized the resistance, and soon overthrew the upstart who had taken his people. Word of his blessed status spread, and the charismatic young leader soon found himself in command of a growing host possessed with religious fervor. As he led his army to victory after victory, he built his capital on the lands where his people had always lived, calling it Kindemalin (Al. "City of the Sun"), although in practice it was equally called Alindor or Alindurya along with the Empire. And as his Empire spread it brought with it the priests of the Serpents, who joined with the new Emperor to govern the empire. Indalin took the regnal name Alinamar (Al. "Sun Crowned"), first Emperor of the Empire of the Sun.
By the time his Empire would fall, nearly five hundred years later, it would encompass lands far to the east, west and north of its heartland. The Twin Serpents and the Sun as religious and spiritual symbols, were spread out across the world, and the priesthood of the Serpents would have slowly leeched away the power of the throne.
The Empire of Alindor was first proclaimed 492 years before the present calendar begins--492 BF (before the fall). (to be cont)
Religion (Main Article)
The state religion of Alindurya was Hittah Damwena, the Two Serpent Path. Within the hierarchy of the Empire its priesthood occupied a rarefied position, especially at the higher rank of Sabaar / Subiri. The faith venerates Damwe-Azha and Damwe-Aisa, the Serpent Father and Mother. It is a religion in which the priest/esses undergo possession at the hands of the Gods, who speak directly to their followers.
Within the Empire priests filled the roles of teachers, healers, magistrates, bureaucrats, and governors. As a highly educated class the priesthood became essentially an arm of government. The deification of the Emperor only served to heighten this association. Beyond the heartlands of the Empire, where other religions held sway, the Alindoreans did not directly encourage conversion. Instead they extended economic and social benefits to members of the faith, and thus subtly brought more into the fold. Eventually membership in the Serpent Cult was a requirement for full citizenship within the Empire.
Alindorean society was stratified, with clearly defined levels of membership and attendant rights. At the top were the True, full citizens of the Empire who possessed the full rights thereof (including land ownership, inheritance, freedom of travel, etc). The True included those of pure Alindorean blood, priest/esses of the rank of subaar / subiri, and the aristocracy.
The second rank was that of Citizen--people free in and of themselves. Physicians, artisans, priests and priestesses, Class
Alindorean society was heavily influenced by Hittah Damwena. Artistically, the motif of the Twin Serpents and that of the Great Sun were found everywhere.
Within the Alindorean Empire there were multiple classes of citizen. At the top were the True, who possessed the full rights of citizenship and were free to come and go as they pleased. The True included not only those born of Alindorean blood, but also those priest/esses of the Serpents who attained the rank of Sabaar or Subiri and a favoured position within the bureaucracy. The aristocratic class was also part of the True.
The second rank was that of the Free Citizens--persons free in and of themselves, possessed of some land or property and largely of the middle class. This included not only merchants but also military officers, sages, and highly skilled labourers, such as sculptors and stonemasons. Free Citizens were able to travel freely throughout the Empire and in legal matters were granted the right to a trial by their peers.
The third rank was that of the peasant class, or Batar. These were the farmers, labourers, fishermen, and other poorer people. Each lacked the full rights of citizenship--they could appeal to a magistrate for justice, but were not entitled to a trial in the way that Free Citizens were. The Batar were not permitted to freely travel throughout Alindorean lands and required permission from a local magistrate or higher ranking citizen in order to travel. Batar usually owned some small property--a home or somesuch--but were certainly not well off enough to become Free Citizens.
The fourth and lowest class was that of the slave. Slavery was permitted in Alindor, and was a source of incredible revenue. A slave could be freed by his master, either by buying his freedom or as an act of generosity. Such a freed slave could move into the Batar class by acquiring a home or small plot of land and beginning to work it.
The social classes of Alindor were rigid, and it was difficult to move between them. Outside of Alindor proper, in the reaches of the Empire, these social classes were far less firm. However the True and the priesthood of the Serpents never surrendered their rank and rights. During the height of the Empire, the highest ranking military figures were counted among the True.
The family was the essential unit of the Alindorean people. Following from the example of the Serpent Mother and Serpent Father, a family's father and mother were considered, jointly, to be the head of the household. A household lacking one or the other was considered unbalanced, and therefore a widow/er would quickly seek to remarry.
Blood ties were incredibly important among the Alindoreans, both as ancestor worshippers and as those aspiring to the ranks of the True. Adoption into a family conferred all the status of being born into that family, with the exception of entry to the True class (unless the adopted's bloodline was verifiably of this rank).
Marriage was often considered an arrangement of financial, legal and familial benefits and was less often undertaken for love. More common were marriages that united families or strengthened the ties within them.
One of the early and vital projects of the Alindorean kings, beginning with Alanamar I, was to encourage a basic level of education among the people. Such education was provided based on the social rank of the family in question. Slaves were educated only at the whim of their masters, and those with an education were often employed as tutors by wealthy owners. The Batar were offered a very basic education that included religious principles and the fundamentals of reading. The children of Free Citizens were offered an extensive education that included history; religion; politics; reading and various other essential topics. Finally, the offspring of the True were expected to complete an extensive education involving not only the above but also languages, music, philosophy and other forms of art and learning. Alanamar sought to create an enlightened society and believed that education was the first great step towards such a goal.
Alindurya was ruled, at the top, by the Emperor and King of Alindor. Beneath the Emperor was a council of advisors that assisted the king in the administration of such a vast empire. Within the Sun-Realm itself the people were governed by a loose collection of local nobles who swore fealty to the Emperor. Each maintained his rank and position at the sole discretion of the monarch.
Outside of the traditional lands of the Sun-Realm authority was wielded by governors who reported directly to the Emperor and his council.
Alongside the government proper, the Serpent Priesthood was also highly influential and the guidance of the spirits, divined in ritual, was considered vital. The Emperor himself was considered to be the embodiment of the Serpents themselves. Indeed, the sacrifice of a virgin priestess on the occassion of a new Emperor's rise to the throne was a ritual no king ignored. It was believed that the soul of the priestess would become one with that of the monarch, creating of the two one balanced soul. Just as the father and mother of the family were both considered vital, so too did the Emperor require a balance of male and female elements to rule effectively.
The Laws of Alindurya were codified in the Tables of Great Aumantiran, named for the third king of the land who finalized the basic principles of the law and extended rights to each class in Alindorean society.Alindor