© 2001-2012, Kevan Hashemi

Caravel

The following essay is by by Raymondo Elia, Department of Political Science, University of Gondiath. It appeared in the Gondiath Enquirer on 24th September 2481. The Gondiath Enquirer is a newspaper printed daily in Gondiath, the second largest city on the Isle of Endromis. The article attracted attention because it revealed the contents of a letter written in confidence by the Endan ambassador to Caravel. Note that the use of the words Endromis and Endor can be confusing when we refer to events around the time of the Reconcilliation. In modern usage, Endromis refers to the island of Endromis and Endor to the nation that is made up of Endromis, Anon, and other smaller pieces of land and islands on the east coast of the continent. Also note that in Endromis, the relationship between temple plots, churches, and the gods are discussed openly in the newspapers and acknowledged by their own church.


Map: Locations of the Various Nations In and Around Caravel.

The ancestors of the Caravelli were slaves of the orcs in what is now the Western Outlands. They were freed from slavery by the advancing armies of Endromis, and forced to move north to what is now Caravel by the terms of the Reconciliation, which gave over to the orcs most of what was once the ancient nation of Mareo. According to the official histories of Caravel, the Caravelli are descended from the inhabitants of Mareo. At the time of the invasion of the orcs, some time in the sixteenth century, Mareo was a province of the Weilandic Empire, but centuries before that, Mareo had been a free and independent nation, whose citizens were drawn from all races, and with whom Endor was frequently at war.

The Caravelli make much of their heritage, referring to the time before the Weilandic domination. They make much of their toleration of other races, telling of a community of halflings in the north, one hundred dwarves living permanently in their northern city Calipsi, and elves living in their central forest (claims supported by the most recent Olympian Census). Their current monarch, Queen Lativa, makes much of her patronage of the arts, and her tolerance of free discussion. But she remains a monarch, with absolute power over her people, and such a form of government is so at odds with the sentiments of bygone Mareo as to make their claim to cultural inheritance seem disingenuous.

Nevertheless, Caravel is a strong nation, united under its queen, whom a majority of the people agree is far-seeing and formidable, and of whom a minority appear to be able to speak as they wish. The nation's population is, according to the most recent Olympian Census, three hundred thousand sapiens. According to the Queen, her standing army is three thousand well-trained infantry and cavalry, and she has the capacity to call up ten times that number in time of war. We doubt her second claim, but her claim as to the size of the standing army appears to be accurate. We cannot speak for the quality of the troops. Caravel's main source of foreign trade is their wool cloth, which they weave with their own wool and imported wool. They use their mountain streams to drive their mill-operated weaving factories. The queen appears to have no shortage of foreign currency with which to equip her palace with luxuries, or her army with dwarf-made weapons.

As slaves, the ancestors of the Caravelli, we can assume, were like most second-generation slaves in barbaric sapien nations: uneducated and acquiescent. When these slaves were freed, as we have said, by the advancing Endroman forces, the Endromans moved them to the borders of the Outlands not because they wanted to be near their old homes, but because Endromis viewed the people and their future state as a passive barrier between the orcs of the Outlands and the rich fields of Equina and Anon [senate transcripts 2005:78-79]. Next door to Caravel, and also acting as a border, is Laconia, but Laconia is a strong and martial ally of Endor, despite their distinct culture, modeled by their pantheon on that of ancient Terran Sparta.

The original Caravel government was a democracy set up and defended by Endan troops. The people, however, were politically apathetic, and Endromis could not stop, without violating its commitment to the new nation's constitution, a royalist party taking control of the Caravel senate in 2103, fifty years after the first elections. The royalists moved towards a monarchy and the dismantling of the senate. Eventually, Endan troops moved into the towns to protect Caravel's constitution. The people, however, had been persuaded against Endromis and democracy by speeches made by royalists attacking the foreigners for their interference in Caravelli affairs, and siting dark reasons for Endromis' continued interest in the country. The Endan soldiers clashed with angry mobs and then withdrew. The first king of Caravel was crowned soon after, with absolute power over his subjects.

Caravel has many fast-flowing mountain streams, and access to wool produced in its own foothills, and those of Anon, Equina, Lakh, and Rank. Wool must be pounded before it can be turned into fine cloth. In the years after the formation of their democratic government, the Caravelli had built mills and water-powered factories on their streams until they produced enough cloth to satisfy the Anon and Endan markets. Although their fabric industry grew rapidly under their democracy, it began to shrink under the monarchy.

The king, and his successors, wanted to build an army strong enough to dominate Kiali, Rank, and Lakh, and so obtain wool cheaply and by force, thus increasing their profits on finished fabrics [Caravel's Royal Record]. To this end, the king raised taxes and confiscated fortunes from rich cloth manufacturers who objected to his plans. The cloth-makers shut down their businesses and left the country, or hid their profits from the king.

In building his army, the king was disappointed in the fortitude of his citizens. They failed to win their battles against their neighbors. The next king hired mercenary troops from Laconia and attacked Kiali and Lakh in force. Between the years 2150 and 2350, there was near constant war between Caravel and its neighbors. The fabric industry struggled on, providing the money to pay the mercenaries. Endan gold bought the wool, Caravel passed the gold on to Laconia, and they in turn passed it back to Endromis for arms and imported goods.

Endromis was satisfied with the arrangement because their trade with the region around Caravel was equitable. Laconia was content to send mercenaries. But in 2356, a Laconian mercenary captain took control of Caravel's capital city, Jitain. Other captains moved quickly to take parts of Caravel and its neighbors. Endromis, thinking that the affair had gone too far and that the fabric industry would collapse, forcing it to import from Weiland via Ursian waters, sent troops in to oust the mercenaries and restore the Caravelli Constitution. At that time, Endromis and Ursia were at odds over trading rights and there was rumor of war between them.

The Endan intervention was well-intentioned, at least in the eyes of the Endan citizens, but it was a debacle. The Caravelli took to arms against all invaders. They were no match for their opponents, however, and won only a few skirmishes. The real fighting was between the mercenaries and the Endans. The Endans cornered the mercenaries in several mountain provinces, but could not defeat them. The mercenaries took what they needed from the people. The Endans burned fields and displaced farmers. The fighting became bitter in the spring of 2364, when the Laconian mercenaries formed an alliance and tried to get to more food.

That spring, too many Endan lives were lost, and Endromis pulled her forces out. The Endan king himself was loath to back down, but a newly-elected senate forced him to order the withdrawal. The Caravelli were left at the mercy of the Laconians.

It was now that a leader emerged among the Caravelli, a half-Laconian bandit of the borderlands who's ambition was to make himself king. He build and trained an army of Caravelli renegades, and won the support of the people by his contests with the Laconians. In ten years, the Laconian generals' heads were on stakes outside his palace. His name was Yves Parlier. He was 38 years old.

Yves was poisoned and decapitated in his hunting lodge in the winter of 2388. His son took over, and his son after that. The current queen of Caravel, Lativa, is Yves' great grand-daughter. She is seventy-five years old, and has reigned now for fifty years. We present here a report from Richard Crockford, Endan ambassador to Caravel.

"Queen Lativa takes longevity drugs and likes to hunt. She allows business to flourish with little intervention. She has formalized the Caravelli laws of taxation, representation in court, money-lending, and dueling. The Caravelli men carry small-swords, and regard duels as a respectable way to settle their differences. They are elaborately polite to one another."

Caravel's population has swollen to three hundred thousand. Their fabric industry, which centers upon their fuller's mills, once again supplies Endor. The Queen keeps a standing army of close to 2000, including 500 heavy cavalry. Her people are armed and able to fight. She has made a close trading alliance with Kiali. She has reduced contact with the Outland orcs.

The Queen makes generous payments to the Church of Caravel, as do her nobles. The church supplies longevity drugs to these generous doners, and provides medical services to all. According to the Olympian Public Record, the Carivelli temple plots are owned by various gods, all of whome are members of the Odyssius Pantheon. Among the gods, membership in this pantheon is selling at three hundred times current annual profit. The economy appears to be growing by almost 5% a year, measured in terms of taxation revenues, along with the population. The pantheon is rich enough, we conclude, to buy population blocks to sustain the growth. The people of Caravel believe in one god, who they call the Almighty, or simply God, or The Creator. Any suggestion that such an all-powerful being does not exist, or that the church is in fact run by a collaboration of divine beings who are free to sell their share in the enterprize at any time, is illegal under the Herasy Laws that the Queen herself has strengthened in the years of her reign. The church acknowledges that the work of the church is done by many beings other than the Almighty, and describe these beings as angels. Worship of another god or another church is also illegal, if the worship involves any affirmation of heretical beliefs among a group of people. So there is only one public church in Caravel, but in private people can, in practice, worship their own gods.

Until several years ago, Endor did not officially recognize the Caravel monarchy. Such recognition would be legally problematic for Endor because they committed themselves to defending the constitution they put in place there hundreds of years ago. There is a feeling among many Endan senators that Caravel's monarchy is a blight upon the region. Its existence is Endor's failure to see through to the end what it began, and as such is a sign of the nation softening with prosperity and peace. Despite the fact that Caravel's population is only a third of a million compared to Endor's ten million, there are those in the senate who say that Caravel's wealth and consequent expansion pose a long-term compromise to Endan security on its eastern borders. They site Caravel's harboring of Anoni rebels, and its taxation of trade with Kent, as examples of its willingness to sow discord within Endor and to separate Endor from its allies in the east.

Recently, recognition of Queen Lativa's government was granted by the Endan senate after an official nullification of the Endan commitment in Caravel, an action that was followed immediately by the arrival of an Endan ambassador, the same Richard Crockford from whom we obtained the above-quoted report on the current state of the nation.

The mission of the current ambassador appears so be to negotiate with Queen Lativa a reduction in the heavy taxes Caravel charges on Kentish goods, and to arrange an extradition treaty that could be applied to Anoni rebels. The taxes on Kentish goods offend the Endans in particular because the Caravel society is for the most part libertarian, like its ally Kiali, and makes a policy of not interfering with trade, beyond its taxation of income. The queen has given only the following reason for the fifty percent tax on the value of Kentish goods, "We protest the imprisonment of free-trading people by the Kentish government." [Richard Crockford], by which comment we assume she is referring to her cousin Marc Parlier, who is in jail for life in Kent on charges of importing a banned narcotic called "heroin".

In Kiali, however, rumor has it that the taxes are funding the construction of naval ships in Arbalast, north of Caravel, on the other side of the Star Mountains, and that these ships will one day attempt to interfere with, or sever entirely, the trade link between Kent and Endor through the Whispering Sea, forcing all goods from Kent to pass through the hands of Caravel and her allies. This theory, the Caravelli say, is far-fetched because is would require open war with Endor and Kent, a war they could not hope to win. Nevertheless, the Caravelli do not deny that the ships are being built.

In reaction to Caravel's taxes on Kentish goods, Endor has offered incentives to merchants trading between Endor and Kiali, encouraging them to travel across the Whispering Sea, and through Kent. Until six months after the ambassador's arrival in Caravel, Endor had been enforcing intermittently an embargo upon all trade with Caravel. As a result of the ambassador's negotiations, this embargo was dropped. The ambassador hopes to convince the Queen that Endor has never wanted to dominate Caravel, but only keep its ancient promise to the Caravelli, a promise that the rest of the world may forget with the passing of centuries, but which Endor, whose senate has ruled for twenty-five hundred years, still remembers with shame. Now, with the cancellation of that promise, an the issuing of a formal apology to the Caravelli in the Endan senate, the ambassador hopes to forge a new trading and military alliance with Caravel to the benefit of both nations.

On matters of religion, the citizens of Caravel attend the Church of Caravel on Sundays, although they are not obliged by law to swear to its creed. The Queen's policy in matters of religion is on of 'outward conformity'. They refer to their god simply as 'God', and regard all others at best as manifestations of their own, and at worst as devils and demons. The enlightened manner in which we regard the our own pantheon as serving us kindly but by no means being the omnipotent and omniscient creators of the world, is to them proof that it is their God, not ours, who is omnipotent and omniscient. We advise travelers to Caravel to beware speaking on religious matters, because our attitudes will offend them if spoken openly.

Although our own pantheon attests to the existence of an afterlife, and to their ability to help us behave in such as way as to enter it well, they do not claim to control that afterlife, but attest instead to a higher being that sits in judgement of mortal lives. We are taught to live well without praying to this higher being, but the Caravelli pray to him directly. We consider such direct prayer to be impudent, but the Caravelli consider praying to any other, lesser god as blasphemy.