Posted on Monday, June 25th, 2012
This is it, then. This entry concludes several things: my regular run of columns (although I reserve the right to post additional articles from time to time), my Novagallia series, and my three-week June theme on magocracies. It’s Mureure, location of Chateau Delinoix and a rather sizable number of TDA-related people (Delinoix, Bouvillier, and others). It is also where the Lady Delinoix spends much of her time.
As you might imagine, then, I have a lot to talk about here.
Before I begin, though, I want to publicly thank the columnists for their fifteen months of dedication and imagination. Primarily, I want to thank Sean for taking over the creative director role and doing a better job than I ever could. Without Sean stepping up to take over, the columns would have ground clunkily to a halt many months ago. But his vision, drive, and dedication kept us going until we figured we had enough worldbuilding to be able to start telling more stories. Thanks, Sean! And thanks, too, for the rust bunnies.
And let me not in any way downplay the awesomeness of Marci, Sister I, or Geoff, who have all contributed immensely and amazingly to the canon of the Ingressa. I have enjoyed reading all of their columns, day in and day out, for so many weeks, and I hope everyone else has as well. Some of my favorite highlights from them include Marci’s Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain series, Sister I’s introduction of demon binding to the House of Bouvillier (which I loved so much I add mentions of it everywhere I can), and Geoff’s irregular series about the Minoan Trail planets.
Although the regular columns conclude this week, we are all staying in contact with one another, and several of us already have plans underway for the next fun thing to come out of Royal Archivist. But until then, I need to blather at you for several thousand words about Mureure. Let’s get started.
Unlike its friend and neighbor Sakosta, Mureure is an independent nation. It remains tied culturally and linguistically with France, its motherland, and the two nations are on good terms, but it no longer is compelled to obey Paris.
The first Frankish colonies on Novagallia came about in the time of Charlemagne, although they and their inhabitants were not what we would today recognize as truly French. Over time, those colonies struggled against repeat invasions from Pec and Nord raiders and consolidated into one walled city—the now-capital city of Reaux.
A few centuries later, French pergressors fleeing first the Black Death and later the ravages of the Hundred Years’ War found themselves emerging within Reaux’s dilapidated wooden walls. They quickly made peace with their new-found neighbors and worked speedily to shore up the city’s defenses, bringing with them new technologies their backwards kin hadn’t yet developed. Reaux blossomed in a generation from a small town barely surviving against repeated attacks from the north into a powerful bastion. Its growth fueled by an influx of French refugees, the city took on its now-characteristic French character.
Over the years, as Reaux’s influence spread across the land, it began sending out pioneers and explorers. More French cities sprang up. As the Age of Discovery blossomed on Earth, more and more immigrants came to the burgeoning colony, hoping to become wealthy from the land’s abundant natural resources.
Then came the first Suri invaders, who in the course of a decade marched relentlessly across western Ebrasae. When they reached the frontiers of Mureure, it was at war with its upstart rival Sakosta, but the two nations quickly put aside their differences to oppose the Suri invaders. Even the Pec and Nords—who had not yet been subjugated by Sakosta—as well as the Akaeans, suspended their raiding to allow the Murse to defend the frontier and the final barrier between themselves and the Suri. The Murse defenders, allowed thanks to their treaties with their neighbors to focus on protecting their eastern borders, gave better than they got, and the governor of the colony declared, “We then are the wall protecting the lands of Europeans from marauding barbarians.” Over time, this quote was shortened and paraphrased, giving birth to the phrase “mur l’europ,” or “Wall of the Europeans.”
This phrase became such a symbol of the French colony that when it rebelled in the earliest months of the French Revolution and became its own nation, it took the name of Mureure.
Why did Mureure separate itself from France when the revolution there began? Because by that point—as is still the case today—it was controlled by its magical nobility (see the Government section).
Relation With the Factions
More will be said about Mureure’s royalty and nobility in the Government section, but it is important to note here that the monarchs of Mureure belong to the House of Bouvillier, one of the Associates families that also control TDA. As a result of this tie not only with the Bouvilliers but also with TDA’s Delinoix and Rouvroy families, the nation is closely entwined with the corporate faction. Critics of either the corporation or the nation (or both) decry this connection as direct control, although, at least publicly, TDA merely enjoys many privileges within the country. More likely, it is the individual families that exert control or influence within Mureure—particularly in the case of House Delinoix. Regardless of the specifics, TDA enjoys a highly positive, mutually beneficial direct tie with Mureure.
In exchange for generous tax waivers (as in, TDA pays no taxes), the corporation invests hundreds of millions of denari and Francs a year into factories and other job-creating infrastructure within the nation. The faction also barracks a sizable portion of its private army—I mean, it’s security forces—with Mureure, and considers its branch in the nation one if its major strongholds. And in addition to the private castles and chateaus dotting the landscape owned by the various French-descended houses of TDA it also owns a dozen or so fortress-like facilities just outside the nation’s major cities and near strategic locations all across the country. Officially, these facilities are called “research and development labs” or “heavy industry testing grounds,” but few doubt what purpose they also serve. All of these facilities also house Royal Guard forces to augment the corporation’s own private security, and many Royal Guard soldiers receive advanced training from TDA’s heavy security trainers.
Recent activity within one of these heavy industry testing grounds, overlooking the city of Surre, seems to be connected with TDA’s interest in Piranesi. Hundreds of personnel have flooded the facility in the past six months, and the construction of a massive tower is well underway. Royal Guards, who report directly to the king of Mureure, augment TDA heavy security patrols at the facility. Several over-ambitious reporters have been forcefully turned away from the area, but rumors speak of at least one who disappeared completely.
Mureure is closely allied with Xindaming, itself a strong supporter of the Roman Empire. This connection through mutual friendship puts Mureure in good stead with the empire, although the two powers are not directly tied together through treaty. That said, Mureure and the Roman Empire enjoy brisk trade with one another through Xindaming’s ports. Thanks in part to this connection, Mureure and the Wàiguó Liánméng rarely interact, and when they do their relations remain cool and excessively polite. Known Murse attempts to capture Toshimese secrets regarding matic suits does nothing to improve its relations with the union.
Being essentially within the pocket of House Delinoix and TDA, Mureure attracts a lot of attention from the Derinam Corps. Every few years or so, Murse gendarmes raid suspected Derinam strongholds, but they have yet to dig up anything other than circumstantial evidence linking those locations to the Derinam. On the other hand, raids by unknown—but suspected Derinam—operatives on government outposts and TDA-owned properties occur several times a year. Again, authorities can find no concrete ties between these raids and the Derinam, but the tension between Mureure and the corps remains high.
Perhaps because of TDA’s strong secular influence in the nation, the Murse are not terribly religious people. Despite that, or possibly because of it, the Order of the Red Clover has found moderate success in spreading into Mureure. The government of Mureure remains friendly toward the religion of the All-In-One, perhaps because of the ties between the Order and TDA, and past kings have granted parcels of their own land (as have members of the House of Rouvroy) for the Order to build sanctuaries. Most of these sanctuaries exist near the nation’s largest cities, especially in the western half (with several standing in or near the capital of Reaux itself).
In the early months of the French Revolution, not long after the storming of the Bastille but before the Reign of Terror, the French-Murse nobility realized the uprising could spread to their own colony if they took no action. To prevent a similar revolution on Novagallia and to distance themselves from the possibility of being connected to a republic, should the rebels win out, they gathered their forces (ironically composed mainly of non-mage commoners) and staged a coup. Today, the nobility—composed entirely of families with a proven lineage of mages—dominate Mureure, but with each passing decade its stranglehold on power slips a little more.
Mureure is a monarchy with a weak constitution offering minimal protections for its common people and maximum privileges for its noble elite. Republican sentiments run deep in Mureure, however, and the nobility frequently makes concessions to the increasingly agitated majority. Although reluctant to relinquish power in sweeping reforms, or even to create the appearance of equality as in neighboring Sakosta, the noble mages of Mureure seem content to release just enough hints of power to the commoners to avoid a full-scale revolution. Despite these increasingly common steps toward a true republican state, discontent among the masses remains high.
Mureure is ruled by King Jean-Pierre III, of the House of Bouvillier. Called “the Prince of Men” by the Murse and “Jean-Pierre the Marionette” by Mureure’s critics and enemies, External observers attribute this popularity to the king’s willingness to put the needs of the nation’s overall wellbeing (including that of its commoners) ahead of both his own best interests as well as that of the nobility.
Like Sakosta, heredity noble titles pass down along mage-producing families, from one mage in the family to the next, and only proven mages may hold noble titles. Compared to Sakosta, though, Murse nobility is harder to gain and easier to lose.
A single mage born into a non-mage commoner’s family is not granted a title, although such a person is granted access to the middle tiers of the government (higher than a regular commoner could ever achieve but lower than any hereditary mage would ever willingly serve). A family must produce mages for three straight generations before the king may grant it with a title. Since mages tend to only marry and breed among themselves, a first-generation mage usually has little problem producing a magic-wielding heir, who in turn finds it even easier to give the family its third and most essential mage.
On the other hand, a family that skips more than one generation without producing a mage is stripped of its title. The same happens to a family that skips more than two generations in five. These kinds of failing families tend to have trouble finding proper suitors for their scions, putting them into a downward spiral into commonality. It is not uncommon, though, for these fallen families to regain their nobility and honor with a spontaneously born mage who then marries into the better families.
While gossips and those who work the machinations of power enjoy watching the rise and fall of various families, it is with those houses which can consistently produce multiple mages every generation where true power lies. The House of Bouvillier counts among these eternally powerful families, and indeed it is from this house that every Murse king has hailed. The House of Bouvillier can trust in the ongoing support of the families of TDA, and as a result no attempt has yet been made to usurp the throne (although on occasion an unpopular king has been removed by Bouvillier’s allies, to be replaced with one of his relatives).
Mureure dominates much of the western peninsula of Ebrasae, stretching from borders of Kasalfki, the Xindaming Pocket, and the Vomburg Principalities in the east to ocean shores in the west. It is the largest nation of the peninsula, although many of its neighbors and near-neighbors to the east dwarf it.
Mureure’s borders with those eastern neighbors run along the Arness Mountains in the east-southeast (separating it from the Kasalfki Tsarinate), and a series of smaller ranges in the northeast (the division with Vomburg and Xindaming).
The mountainous eastern edge of the country gives way to flatlands through its heartland and to its western end. A curving plateau forms much of the nation’s interior, with a short range of low mountains sweeping northwestward and forming the Nelbion Peninsula, on which mainland Sakosta stands. West of the plateau stretch a series of lightly forested, slightly hilly lowlands that eventually reach the sea. In the southwest, the land rises and breaks up into rocky badlands that give rise to the low mountains that form the Akaean Peninsula and Akaean Archipelago.
Mureure’s people overwhelmingly trace back to mainland France, and are called French-Murse (or, less commonly, Murse-French). The French-Murse share a linguistic and cultural heritage with France, and the two nations remain connected through their commonality. Trends and fashions from France tend to have a greater impact on Mureure than the reverse, but Mureure supplies its own influences thanks to the tie both nations have through TDA and the houses Delinoix and Bouvillier (and to a lesser extent, Rouvroy).
The largest minority groups in Mureure consist of descendants of Vietnamese immigrants from the time France controlled that nation, as well as Novagallian British-Sakostans, Ming, and Dan. Despite the borders it shares with Vomburgian nations, the hostility felt between the two peoples drive people of Vomburgian heritage out of Mureure into the relative welcome they find in the principalities or tsarinate.
Mureure’s largest break with France comes in the form of religion. Murse-French tend to not publicly practice their faith, although festivals of different religions do fill the streets of villages or various city neighborhoods at several times a year. Those who do put effort into their religion tend to be practitioners of Buddhism (particularly across the eastern plateau of the nation, where the Xindaming, Vietnamese, and Dan influences are strongest) or worshipers of the All-In-One (especially in the nation’s largest cities, especially in the western half).
Although the government denies it, Christian visitors to the nation occasionally accuse Mureure of suppressing and discriminating against not only Roman Catholicism but all of the Abrahamic religions. Religious scholars (and Adax, who weighed in on the subject in Theories on Metareality and the Manipulation of Fate and Existence by the Persistence of Allegorical Sapient Beliefs, Volume VII) speculate that, if such an agenda exists, it is no doubt driven by the powerful families of TDA. Part of that agenda would no doubt come from the non-secret connection the House of Bouvillier shares with demonic forces (of which, it should be noted, the king is prohibited from engaging in). At the same time, House Delinoix is no friend to the Abrahamic faiths, although in truth most of its members show no religious inclination at all.
Bouvillier and Delinoix
The House of Bouvillier sits on the throne of Mureure, but House Delinoix—or more specifically, the Lady Delinoix—controls it. Every king of the nation has known he rules only as long as he does not overly anger the matriarch of House Delinoix, and most have done well to abide by that. A few, of course, have pitted the power of the throne against Chateau Delinoix. None survived the attempt. Although it is not required by law or custom, before a king publicly announces an heir he first gains the approval of the Lady Delinoix.
This sharing of power occasionally tests the friendship of the Houses Delinoix and Bouvillier, but it takes only a few short years and several friendly gestures to resume the bond. Since no king has challenged the power of House Delinoix in more than a century, the two families share a hundred years of solidarity, friendship, and extensive interbreeding (although House Delinoix forbids marrying for political reasons, its members frequently mingle with those of the House of Bouvillier).
In practice, the House of Bouvillier—primarily through the king, of course, but also with familial connections—controls the capital city, Reaux. Its family members and their allies (human, demonic, and otherwise) serve at every level of government, including the Council of Mages (which serves as both an advisory body for the king as well as a controlling body of which families display the requisite magery that entitles them to nobility). Through these connections, the House of Bouvillier exerts considerable influence throughout other large towns and cities in the country. This, of course, is in addition to the overwhelming dominance the family enjoys through ruling the country directly from the royal palace.
The power of House Delinoix exists economically, with many of the nation’s largest factories and mills under the direct supervision of a member of the House (most of which, of course, belong to TDA). Thanks to the nation’s connection with TDA, it is arguably the wealthiest nation on Novagallia, and most of that wealth passes through the hands of House Delinoix at some point. The seat of House Delinoix power on Novagallia sits in Chateau Delinoix, the personal residence of the Lady Delinoix and occasional home to various other members of the family. Numerous favored daughters of House Delinoix have been born in Mureure, and many more have lived in the nation for at least part of their lives.
Of course, both families exist on many worlds in the Ingressa, but both maintain a strong base of power in Mureure. A member of either house knows he or she can find safety and support in Mureure. The trick is getting there.