Šura is highly urbanized; its largest citiy is the capital, Jippirim, with 175,000 inhabitants. Cities of more than 60,000 population are Pajimi, Ičili and Dusilim; those with more than 30,000 are Mutab, Modrim, Jintej, Sukand, Kurundim, Baburali, and Gudral.
The main language of Šura is Šureni, a member of the Tžuro family; the written standard however is the language of the Kurundasti Tej of 1800 years ago, as used in the canonical editions of the Baburkunim and other sacred works.
Fighting the Sainor
The Sainor conquered Skouras since 2790-95. They were brutal to failed rebels; the Tžuro took the lesson that rebellions must not fail. Their first major success was the liberation of Dusilim, on the southern coast, in 2875, creating the kingdom of Dusila. Easily supplied by sea, Dusilim was an excellent base for harrassing the Sainor, though it was not strong enough to roll back the occupiers. An alliance with Šurantal and Baburali, however, succeeded in liberating Ičili in 2940.
In 2986-88 Dusila, Ičili, and Šurantal reconquered Jippirim. The question naturally arose, would a new atej be named, and if so who? The elders of Jippirim produced a remote heir of the Anajati, but the allies had no interest in handing over power to an unknown who had not even participated in the war; but then they didn't trust each other either. In the end no atej was named and the three kingdoms remained separate. They almost fought a war over who would control Jippirim itself, ending with a compromise: the city would be ruled by a council of four, one representative from each of the allies plus one named by the reconstituted Jippirim mafali (senate).
This arrangement persisted till the first serious disagreement. Šurantal wanted help fighting the Uṭandal; the others viewed this as a foolish distraction from the fight against the Sainor. In 2993 Šurantal was expelled from the council, and a war was begun to liberate the Šinour valley. This went well, but Ičili was annoyed: the delegates from Dusila and Jippirim always voted together. This was no coincidence: the Jippirim mafali hoped to dominate Šura, and wagered that Ičili would be a long-term challenge but Dusila would not.
Kurundim was liberated in 2997, Sukand in 2999, and Pajimi in 3003, completing the reconquest of the Šinourene cities, but re-opening the arguments over who would rule. The temporary expedient was to expand the council idea: each city was ruled by representatives of Dusila, Ičili, and Jippirim plus a local.
Jippirim's soft takeover
In 3012— at Jippirim's suggestion— the councils simply voted on joining Dusila, in effect kicking out Ičili. By a private arrangement, Jippirim would rule itself under Dusilan sovereignty. Only Pajimi balked. Ičili threatened war, but agreed not to pursue it if the other parties would recognize Pajimi's independence.
The bulk of the population of 'Dusila' lived along the Šinour, and the natural center of trade and culture was Jippirim. The city's next move was subtle: it invited the other Šinourene cities onto its mafali: three seats each to Sukand and Kurundim, one each to three minor towns. Dusilim had no seat, but the king was entitled to send a personal representative with the right to vote. In theory the mafali was simply the city council for Jippirim, but it was now seen as the legislature for the entire Šinour valley, with royal approval— and Jippirim retained a majority of votes (11 of 21).
There was no serious resistance to this move. Tžuro nationalism was running high with the reconquest, and Jippirim was the traditional capital anyway; it seemed only reasonable that mafali should govern the Šinour valley. The senate was careful to give the king of Dusila his due as sovereign, and to make no moves to apply its laws to Dusilim.
By the late 3000s the king was resident in Jippirim for half the year anyway; it was politically expedient, and there were still campaigns against the Sainor to oversee. (The Sainor meanwhile converted to Jippirasti, in a last-ditch effort to reduce resistance to their rule. The Tžuro were unimpressed, but the Sainor applied their new zeal to converting— and conquering— the Fei.)
Union of Šura
For decades Pajimi maintained an alliance with Ičili. Helu, king of Dusila from 3153, worked hard to win over the king of Pajimi, Agoš. Agoš remained wary, but when he died in 3159 his daughter Janei made things easier by falling in love with Helu. Helu commented to his advisors that "her only beauty is her crown," but that was enough. He romanced her— and her people— and they married in 3162.
Three months later the couple were declared king (ajos) and queen (ñajos) of Šura, in Jippirim. There was some grumbling in Dusilim and Pajimi, but not much— popular sentiment was strongly in favor of a resurgent Tžuro Skouras.
The united kingdom
|Kings of Šura|
|3162-3179||Helu and Janei (co-sovereigns)|
War with Ičili
Ičili protested that the union was a violation of historic accords and a threat against the other Tžuro kingdoms; its own implied threat was to close off shipping, as it controlled the mouth of the Šinour. Its own generals counselled peace, but the Ičili senate was feeling its oats— tired, they said, of being pushed around by the Šureni. In late 3171 an Ičilik ship was seized in the Skourene Sea for piracy; Ičili declared the river closed in retaliation.
Helu was grateful for the casus belli and invaded in force. There was no real contest: Ičili was a ghost of its ancient self, and had no resources to back up its claims. Helu conquered it within six months.
The senatorial coup
In 3179 both ajosu died from an illness— ipeja si Fananak, 'Fananak disease', one of several diseases brought back from Arcél. Their son Apač was six years old; the mafali declared itself to be his guardian. At a stroke the nation had become a republic, with a figurehead king.
Apač was carefully educated: praised and indulged, and no hint given that he should ever have any political power. There was resentment over the mafali taking power, but only among those who for historical reasons weren't represented in it. Before this could become a divisive issue, the mafali was expanded to give representation to Dusilim (3 seats), Pajimi and Ičili (2 seats each), and Jintej. This incidentally reduced Jippirim's share of mafali seats to 11 of 29, which defused another incipient source of dissent.
That left plenty of room for debate, however. The mafali was small enough to be efficient, but too large to run a government. Should there be a single long-term president, or even an atej? A short term premier (ažraŋ), as in republican Čeiy? A small committee of state, as in Revaudo Xurno? Should the cozily oligarchical mafali be broadened into a broadly supported national legislature, as among the exotic Kebreni?
Various solutions were tried. The Jippirim senator Tžandau dominated the first decades of the 3200s, a combination of party boss and tycoon; corrupt, cunning, and arrogant, he soured Šureni on the concept of a president. In 3225 he was deposed by Apač's son Fudru, to general satisfaction. This turned to alarm when Fudru showed signs of wanting to rule the country. If Fudru had merely insisted on consultation, he would likely have won; the country was in a mood to restrain its senate. But he wanted to name judges and officials, issue decrees, and run the army. In 3227 he was arrested by the senate, which spent another three years deciding what to do with him. In the end it exiled him (to Gudral) and named his lackluster brother Iŋela king.
In the 3250s the mafali quarreled with Iŋela's son Nitaseŋ over his extravagant lifestyle, and ended up simply deposing him, quietly ending the monarchy.
For lack of any better alternative, the mafali named one of its own as ažraŋ each year.
Šura saw itself as the national state of the Tžuro people, and carried on an ongoing war wherever Tžuro were ruled by foreigners. At first this largely meant the Sainor, but once these were pushed entirely out of Šura, it started to press the Lenani, especially the once powerful Bendasti Tej. By 3300 it had expanded up to the Lenansava, the mountains that form the southern edge of the Lenani steppe. (The mountains seem like a natural boundary to the Šureni, but upper Skouras is really a pastoral zone, and the expansion brought many Lenani and Sainor under Šureni rule.)
The Uṭandal were also traditional enemies, and there was a good deal of back-and-forth in the Namal. At first the fighting favored the Uṭandal; in 3028 they conquered Mutab. Šura reconquered the city only in 3351.
The eastern Tžuro states spoke an unintelligible language, worshipped oddly, and had a strong state in Jaešim— all good reasons to leave them alone. But the Šureni could not see good reasons for the western states to exist, and when conflicts arose they thought annexation was a good resolution. Baburali was absorbed in the middle 3200s, and in 3370 it grabbed Šurantal. Presently the only other western Tžuro nation is the little city-state of Tral.
The modern republic
Šura is one of the richest and most progressive states of southern Ereláe, along with Čeiy and Belšai. Its version of Jippirasti (Sačutu) is almost unrecognizable to the Lenani, who retain a purer, more zealous faith (Staji). It is friendly to the northern powers and open to ideas such as the scientific method— though there is some resentment as well... why do these pagan states have such overwheming power and knowledge?
The senate mafali was originally a pure oligarchy: only the most important eleven families of Jippirim had a seat. As seats were given to smaller cities, the local elite chose one or more of their own to represent them.
As this system persisted, there was increasing resentment among the burgeoning middle class. By the late 3300s people were talking about revolution. After a particularly horrific scandal— a clique of senators had collaborated to corner the wine trade, which then led to a collapse in several other markets— the oligarchs were demoralized enough to agree to sweeping reforms. The mafali was nearly tripled in size (to 99); half the new seats went to newly prominent families, the other half were elected.
The senate elects a Trustee (ažraŋ) who administers the government, and can be recalled by majority vote at any time past his first year of office.
When Kebreni ships first came to the littoral in the 3100s, the chief goods they bought were Šureni wine as well as re-exported spices and horses; the northerners by contrast had many tempting articles: fine cloth and steel, glass and chinaware, coffee, cocoa, telescopes, eyeglasses, alchemical equipment, printed books.
Many other areas, including even Xurno, were content to buy these novelties, but the Šureni did their best to analyze them, learn the art of making them if they could, and start to sell them themselves to their neighbors. The first industry to be so revitalized was shipbuilding, in which the Šureni had long experience anyway; then glassmaking, loom making, and steel refining. In the 3300s they purchased printing presses from both Kebri and Verduria, took them apart, and learned how to make them; they were the first nation in southern Ereláe to publish printed books, though the Xurnese had long used stencils for mass publication. (It didn't hurt that the Jippirasti alphabet was the most suited to printing of all the southern scripts.)
The Šureni exported many of their local manufactures to other Tžuro and Uṭandal states, as well as farther abroad. This in turn has sparked modernization in Čeiy and Belšai and to a lesser extent Xurno.
Šura is particularly strong in the arts of language, from theology and philosophy to drama, poetry, history, fantasy, and works explaining the rest of Almea. Practical works from abroad are translated, but the Šureni have little interest in other people's literature. Notable writers include the Jippirasti teacher Ajažril, the poet Tžigau, and the philosopher known as Agalun, the Unorthodox.
There is a long tradition of stoneworking, which leads to fine architecture, statuary, and fortification. (After their recapture from the Sainor, Dusilim and Ičili were so heavily fortified that other peoples considered it ridiculous... shouldn't they fight, rather than hiding behind walls?)
The chief visual arts are sculpture, tapestry (highly appreciated in a cold country where stone walls predominate), watercolor, and wax painting. Oil painting has recently become popular, picked up from Xurno.
Jippirasti strongly discourages drunkenness, prostitution, and male homosexuality; none of these things can be indulged openly even in large cities. Travelers stay at dormitories run by clerical caregivers rather than at inns; the customers of winesellers are not allowed to drink on their premises. All this simply means, of course, that the really good parties are private and quite debauched.