From Almeopedia

Cuzei was an ancient state along the Eärdur in western Eretald. The capital was Eleisa. The language of the state was Cuêzi. The religion was Cuzeian theism, wich later turned into Arašát, the religion of the Arašei.

Etymology: Cuêzi Cuêzaye, cognate to Karazi, Caď. Cuezaie, Ver. Cuzei, Ismaîn Kuzaȥe, Bar. Kezach, Ax. Kuzaye, X. Xuzay, Ṭeôši Šuzäye.




In the fourth century before the founding of Ctesifon the Easterners invaded both Eretald and Xengiman, disrupting the civilizations they found there, and instigating chains of movement which would take centuries to finish. The invaders of Eretald were the Central and the Cuzeian peoples; the latter were clearly dominant. Like the Ezičimi in Xengiman, they retained as much of the governmental machinery of the conquered people as they could find, though the Cuzeians, already believers in Iáinos, made no attempt to take over the institutions of Monkhayu paganism. The invaders had a more hierarchical bent than the Monkhayu; their Empire of Metayu (proclaimed in -375) was rather more organized than any Monkhayic state. The name comes of course from Meťaiu; as it was the first kingdom they encountered, the Cuzeians applied its name to the whole of Eretald.

The Cuzeians pressed on to the Eärdur, where they founded the kingdoms of Cayenas (-360), Sūās (-355), and Eleisa (-350). In their early years these kingdoms would have consisted of a barbarian élite ruling a peasantry of different culture and language; the bulk of the Cuzeian peoples were still concentrated along the Svetla.

Over the next few centuries the Cuzeians migrated into the valley of the Eärdur (which they called the Isrēica), and cleaned up the Monkhayic states now appearing in the southwest, founded by Monkhayic lords fleeing the barbarian onslaught. The Central tribes would settle in the center and east of Eretald, and the pure Monkhayu were pushed to the north. A huge number of Monkhayu, however, must have stayed in place, learning the invaders' language and interbreeding with them. Unlike the Ezičimi, the northern tribes had no great consciousness of race; Monkhayu who learned their languages could be completely assimilated.

This is the time in which the Cuzeian epics are set: a time of many kings, frequent war, and bronze weapons, into which the chivalry and orthodoxy of two centuries hence were retrofitted.

The Calesiōre clan of Eleisa organized the Cuzei as a state around -250, uniting the Cuzeian states along the Eärdur, except for Sūās.

Early Times

Much of the Book of Eleď deals with the early years of Cuzei. Cuzei was always in theory what it actually was at this time, a league of independent Lords (namō) whose king (narrûos) was only first among equals, and acquired absolute authority only in wartime.

Economic activity in other regions at this time was either individual (you grew something or made something for your own benefit) or governmental (rulers managed production to benefit their own class or the people as a whole). In Cuzei there was an unusual emphasis on community action. The planting, harvesting, and distribution of grain, for instance, was viewed as a task of the community as a whole. The basic organization of society was feudal: you owed your lord certain traditional duties or goods; he in turn was responsible for your protection and general well-being.

Religiously, the Cuzeians were followers of a single god, worshipped under the triple aspects of Iáinos, Eīledan, and Ulōne. Unlike the Monkhayu, the Cuzeians actively sought out the wisdom of the ilii. We have a record of an amusing correspondance between a Cuzeian prince and an iliu lord: the Cuzeian offers to drive the Monkhayic invaders out of Davrio; the iliu explains that the ilii vacated "Laiuën" voluntarily.

The earliest Cuzeian records date from about -200. The Cuzeians apparently learned writing from the ilii, since they were certainly illiterate when they invaded Eretald, and their script bears no relation to that of the Wede:i. It isn't much like ilian script, either; the best arguments for the ilian connection are the Cuzeians' own testimony, their known intercourse with the ilii, and the fact that both scripts are alphabetic (unlike any other human script, the Cuzeian never went through a logographic or syllabic phase).

Golden Age

The time from 104 to 440 is usually seen as the Golden Age of Cuzei. The state tended to become stronger over time; in the time of Beretos (260-340) it operated as an aristocracy. However, the first market economy on Almea developed in Cuzei during this time, too. In the first century some of the larger Houses (aurē), and some of the growing cities, had moved first to an abstraction of the feudal duties, and then to a true cash-based economy. Credit-based might be more accurate, as transactions were recorded not by the exchange of money but by recording units of work in the House's books. In the cities there was a tendency to use mediums of exchange-- pigs, chickens, silver, spices, and wine were early choices. Within a century or two, almost every village had its market, specialized craftsmen multiplied, and the cities boomed.

Previously, trade had been handled at the governmental level: when a deal could be worked out, one chief bartered goods with another; if not, the goods could be acquired by war, or by colonization. The first individual traders came from Cuzei. As among the ancient Greeks, earning one's living this way-- aiming for a profit instead of an even exchange-- was considered base and immoral. Cuzei never quite came to admire traders, but trading accounted for an ever-larger proportion of its economy. (The practice was also taken up by the Caďinorians and, more enthusiastically, by the Monkhayu.)

Cuzei absorbed the other "High Cuzeian" state of Sūās in 104, which is generally taken to be the start of the Golden Age. (Sūās is remembered today in the name of the Nansuael swamp, a partial translation of guiscue lacatosuuele, North Sūās Swamp.)

All round its borders Cuzei could ponder a world which revolved around itself. The Nimoicu and Lovitrui, whom they called Little Cuzeians (we call them the Karazi, after their name in their own language), and the other Eastern kingdoms in Eretald owed it sovereignty de jure; nor was this power always nominal. These same peoples, and the rudimentary Cadhinorian states of Araunicoros and of the Scadrorionit (Ver. Šadoroi) (along the middle Svetla) conducted their business in Cuêzi.

Iron working began in Cuzei around 200. This increased the military predominance of the Cuzeians; if they did not create a larger empire it was only because they saw no need for one. They valued the pretense that all Eretald was united under the narrûos; but they had no stomach for actually ruling the impoverished primitives around them.

The only bleak spot in the picture was Munkhâsh. The Munkhâshi had begun to get the upper hand in their battles with the Monkhayu, and by 250 they had extended their borders to the Ctelm (Gaumê) Mountains at the edge of Eretald. In 287 began the mission of Beretos to the court of the Caďinorian baron Berak, who held the Taucrēte Pass against the Munkhâshi. Within four years his mission had failed, and the Munkhâshi established a small military presence in Berak's castle. In the land of Babblers, Beretos' subsequent written apology for his mission and indictment of Cuzei's arrogant "barbarian" policy, is one of our most important documents on early Caďinorian civilization (and a very honest depiction of contemporary Cuzei).

The Cuzeians had a vibrant urban life, with merchants, artists, and shopkeepers in addition to the lords, administrators, priests, soldiers and craftsmen that could be found in the cities of other cultures of the time; with Eleisa, they boasted the largest city on the continent. The cities belonged to no noble House; in a sense their inhabitants were the first truly free men in Ereláe. The tendency in Cuzei was for the cities to grow but not to become more numerous, perhaps because all the land outside the cities belonged to some House or another.

Silver Age

For over a hundred years the failure to secure the Taucrēte Pass seemed to have no evil consequences. Then, in 440, the Munkhâshi poured through the gap, and within fifteen years had occupied half of Eretald.

Their advance was facilitated by two military innovations: the newfound ability to ride a horse in battle, offering superior mobility over the chariot; and use of iron weapons-- a trick the Cuzeians had never shared with their Caďinorian wards.

The Demon Realm found that there was no question of making the Caďinorians and Monkhayu compliant slaves. These were not mesolithic primitives, impressed by the bounty of wheat, like the first human subjects of Munkhâsh had been; they could only be put down by merciless repression. Brutality and terror, then, were the order of the day. Between 440 and 500 over 5 million Monkhayu and Caďinorians were sacrificed on the battlefield, or on the altars of the Munkhâshi gods.

Almost all of the Central tribes were conquered, but no Cuzeian, High or Low, ever bowed the knee to Munkhâsh. It was in fact Cuzei which halted the Munkhâshi advance, breaking the three-year seige of Eleisa in 458, and pushing the Munkhâshi back past the Svetla.

The ilii sent a legion of two thousand to the assistance of Cuzei-- a gesture which they have repeated for no other state. (Ervëa would receive the help, but not the command, of two hundred ilii in 1644.) This amount of ilii is quite significant, not least because the ilii possessed swords of steel, as well as mild explosives, based on black powder. The size of the human armies is more difficult to estimate, but reasonable estimates would be 200,000 for the Munkhâshi forces, 100,000 for the Cuzeian, and about the same number, but nowhere near as well-organized, for the Caďinorians.

The Munkhâshi invasion is taken as the start of Cuzei's Silver Age. The war required a strong central ruling hand and standing armies, big and not very welcome changes in Cuzeian eyes. Religion became more public and normative; at the same time the prophets were more denunciatory. Some took the rise of Munkhâsh as a sign that Iáinos was displeased; others, that Amnās (the chief of the demons) was struggling with Eīledan-- in any case, a time to be serious, pious, and patriotic. The excessive riches of some trading Houses was also deplored, as offenses against Cuzeian unity, and as being "built on nothing"-- merely moving goods around.

Around this time, Cuzei expanded to Lake Bérunor as part of a forward policy toward the Somoyi-Methelyi, whose pesky raids were a distraction from the eastern war.

For a century Cuzeians and Caďinorians struggled to push back the Munkhâshi, and had some sucesss; the Scadrorion states of Sisos and Sciael pushed them well away from the Svetla, the Monkhayu of Leziunea reoccupied the Mišicama coast, and the Cuzeians cleared the left bank of the Svetla of Munkhâshi, reorganizing it as Lācatur (`Northland'); it had been so depopulated by Munkhâshi terror that most of its new inhabitants were immigrant Caďinorians. The Monkhayu of the Kešvareni plateau rebelled in 550.

The long decline

Around 575 the ktuvoks took the offensive again. They reduced Sisos and Sciael in two years, moved on Eleisa but were fought back, and retook the mouth of the Svetla in 581. After this they suppressed the Monkhayu rebellion. Cuzei was alarmed. The general Maroūsias believed that unity against Munkhâsh should be pursued above all other goals; his speeches were met with only theoretical agreement. In 590, putting his program into effect, he invaded Dācuas. He continued with campaigns against the other Little Cuzeians; by 600 he had succeeded in uniting all the Cuzeian states except Nayas, and had even conquered the Caďinorian states of Cayenas and Duvondos.

In 601 he deposed the narrûos and named himself zîtenarrûos, or Emperor. But surely, some thought at the time, it did not please Iáinos that Cuzeians fought Cuzeians in the shadow of Munkhâsh, nor that free Cuzeian cities and Houses were subject to a general made emperor. Cuzei was at the height of its power, but to many Cuzeians it had fallen. Maroūsias' coup is taken as the end of Cuzei's Silver Age.

Once generals had gotten accustomed to the throne room, it was hard to make them leave. Rival emperor/generals started to split the Cuzeian empire, while Lācatur, Cayenas, and Duvondos reasserted their independence.

The middle Svetla, traditionally a patchwork of minor baronies, organized itself into the strong Caďinorian League, with its capital at Ctesifon. The Central states then forgot their respect for Cuzei. Araunicoros finally adapted the Cuêzi alphabet to write its own language, around 650; the Caďinorians followed half a century later. Both states also adopted the Cuzeian innovation, the market; lacking the communal and anti-trade mindset of the Cuzeians, they quickly proceeded to a roaring money economy.

For the last part of Cuzeian history, see the first sections of the article on the Arašei.

See also

Author: Raphael
(Well, almost entirely copied from Zompist's Historical Atlas)