|495 - 885 ; 938 - 1595|
|Native:|| ancient Meŋeland, |
|Government:|| dictatorial (uŋaltas)|
|Ruler’s title|| aŋelot|
The city of Meŋeland [ˈmɛ ŋɛ land], modern-day Baburali, was an important nation of ancient Skouras, located in the north of the Gelihur peninsula. It's chiefly remembered as the home city of the famed generals Minnukitum and Eŋŋuḷoşum.
Meŋeland first appears in the annals of Skourene history in the early half of the second century, as a dependancy of the city-state of Guṭḷeli. Even though it wasn't technically a colony of the latter, but their close proximity and the bsepa ties that linked them cemented the authority of the slightly older city. As part of the reprisal for the Guṭḷelik seizure of Ḍarroḍ, Iṭili besieged the Meŋeland and managed to burn down most of the city, setting back its development. The blood in the water proved irresistible to Imuṭeli, which besieged Guṭḷeli in 276 and incorporated it into its empire. In the following years, Meŋeland was a battleground between the Imutelik general Epuneka and his enemies, when it was besieged and occupied more than once before being returned to Guṭḷeli in 299.
In the Quadrilateral War of 404, Miligenḍi captured the city again, and would maintain its rule in spite of several Guṭḷelik attempts at recapture. Only in 465 did it change hands again, this time falling into those of the usampara alliance, under the leadership of the Engidorid asemop Minnukitum.
After his stellar performance against the Miligenḍik, Minnukitum was considered the hero of the usampara. But in accord with senatorial principle a new asemop was elected in 471. Minnukitum found this hard to accept, and relocated to his new conquest, Meŋeland, which was happy to elect him governor (474).
Minnukitum found a lot to like about Meŋeland. It was wealthy, it was less crowded by other cities, and it was in his pocket. Back home he was merely one clan leader among many; here, merely because his presence, his bsepa was dominant. He was the liberator of the city, and it elected him asemop year after year.
The next move was plain, but he took years to prepare for it: in 495 he declared Meŋeland independent. Engidori was caught flatfooted. It managed to enlist Imuṭeli as an ally; Minnukitum thrashed them both.
If this was not a sufficient hint that the balance of power had moved southward, the rebellions of Peligi (vs. Miligenḍi, 545) and Ṭisuraku (vs. Ṭisuram, 555) were a clincher. These developments were facilitated by a plague (the ḍaukiurli), which struck the delta starting in 530 and spread north along the Šinour, killing up to a quarter of the population. It had much less effect in the colder and less populated Littoral.
Even though their influence had been reduced, the delta cities still saw themselves as the guiding lights of Skouras; it was a great shock, then, when Meŋeland declared war on Imuṭeli and, in two years, actually conquered it (683-4, under Minnukitum III). It was the first sign that the era of the city-state (the ṭreta) was ending.
Guṭḷeli had been steadily growing in influence over the past century, with the colonization of Luduyn and the conquest of Teralam, Ageşoram and Miligenḍi's Barmund possessions, culminating in the conquest of Iṭili. However, Guṭḷeli’s aspirations of empire were now obvious to all. Papliopagimi, Engidori, and Meŋeland all allied to meet the threat, and declared war.
The war dragged on for more than twelve years. Ṭailsiugga, the Guṭḷelik asemop, first concentrated on winning territory, then on direct assaults on the allies’ capitals, and then just tried to hold on. For three years Guṭḷeli itself was under siege, but the Guṭḷeliki were able to supply the city by sea. Finally Kolatimand was induced to enter the war, and the allies defeated the Guṭḷelik fleet, leaving Meŋeland’s brilliant general Eŋŋuḷoşum to direct a triumphant assault on the city (786). The allies divided up Guṭḷeli’s empire: Kuḷiŋibor and Pitrat went to Kolatimand; the Namal to Meŋeland; Papliopagimi got its old territories back, plus Ḍarroḍ; Engidori took Iṭili and Ageşoram.
Eŋŋuḷoşum, now dictator of Meŋeland— the city had established the dictatorship during the war, and neglected to end it afterward— believed that he had found Ṭailsiugga’s mistake: he had proceded without allies. He saw his opportunity in Iṭili, which according to his sources was preparing to rebel against Engidori. He secretly sent the rebels arms, and promised to come to their aid if they could hold out on their own for a month, long enough to tie up the Engidorid army. In the meantime he signed an alliance with Guṭḷeli.
Iṭili rebelled according to plan in 795, and after the agreed month Eŋŋuḷoşum sent an army to support it, while Guṭḷeli attacked Ageşoram. Engidori sent an army southward into Meŋeland. Eŋŋuḷoşum had anticipated this, and prepared ambushes all along the south road, the Gerredtar. He sprang his trap and destroyed the Engidorid army. Engidori had no choice but to sue for peace.
Just five years later he was ready for his next target: Papliopagimi. He let Guṭḷeli besiege Ṭisuraku, while he (with the help of Iṭili) attacked Nibureli. Engidori declared war as well, but Eŋŋuḷoşum beat the Engidorids again in a battle near Imuṭeli that was almost as decisive as Gerredtar. Almost as an afterthought, he sent his navy to take Ḍarroḍ. Papliopagimi and Engidori conceded defeat. Engidori was forced to cede a good deal of its hinterland to Meŋeland.
Eŋŋuḷoşum now had a good swath of central Skouras, a protectorate over Iṭili, a reputation for invincibility, and a plan to take out Engidori for good. And then he was assassinated, in 807. Later histories run to conspiracy theories: he was murdered by the Engidorids, or by a clique of wizards, or by senatorial rivals. Contemporary sources point to a disgruntled member of his own bsepa.
Rebellions immediately broke out in Nibureli and Imuṭeli; the Engidorids invaded; and it took four years for things to be brought under control. (Engidori had to be given back its hinterland.) Meŋeland’s empire was not dismantled, but the imperial idea was dead— or at least this path to it. If it couldn’t be accomplished by Eŋŋuḷoşum, perhaps Skouras’s greatest military genius, it probably couldn’t be done at all. The other Skourene states would mobilize before the job was half done. As well, the high cost of militarization— the cost of maintaining armies and defense works, the loss of liberties, the interruption of trade— did not go unnoticed.
The confederation and decline
Meanwhile, to the west, the star of Axunai was rising, and it managed to conquer the Jeori empire in short order. The northern Skourenes merey shook their heads and deplored the situation; Kuḷiŋibor insisted early and often that action was needed, and proposed a confederacy or mḍera. In 885, emperor Tima sent an army to take the cities of Arṭali and Korileŋ in Barmund. This was enough to convince Meŋeland to join the confederacy and send an army to fight the Axunemi. Meŋeland itself was still expanding as well, suppressing the Iṭiliki independence movement of the 860s, effectively turning it indo a province.
After the threat of invasion had passed, though, the Muḍureg's attentions turned to those who had ignored their call for unity, and in the war with Guṭḷeli (930-38), Meŋeland was sacked and burned. The war was won by the confederacy, though, and Meŋeland recieved a seat on the council of the Skourene League, intended to promote Skourene unity. While the Muḍureg crumbled, though, the League was strengthened with the addition of Engidori.
As time went by, however, the Engidorid League under Ḍolbunodu found itself embroiled in endless wars, lording over and suppressing the other league members. Engidori proved unable to regain their trust, even after having deposed Ḍolbunodu, and Meŋeland revolted in 1115, styling itself the Dreşa Anamti or Rising League. This initiative never gathered much support outside Meŋeland itself, and the balance of power in the Littoral tipped towards Peligi, which was leading the defense effort against the Tžuro of the Kurundasti Tej, chiefly by conquering the opposition. That fate befell Meŋeland as well by the 1640s. Gurdago opposed Peligir dominance of the Littoral, which led to a clash between Gurdagor and Peligir armies in Meŋeland's hinterlands (1645-1647). Gurdago, the eventual victor of that conflict, managed to annex Meŋeland. Even so, both parties continued to oppose one another at every turn, exhausting their resources considerably. When the Tžuro hordes turned their attention south once more, neither proved capable of defending their territories, and Meŋeland fell in 1720 as they moved south through the Gelimtar peninsula.
It may be a sign of the times that the most popular literature in the era of the Meŋelandik empire were epigrammatic comedies, paradoxical philosophies, and accounts of foreign or imaginary Skourene empires. A leading Meŋelandik thinker of the day called himself Umiṭṭḷek (‘empty head’) and prided himself on never asking a philosophical question which could be answered— or at least, as he said, “none that cannot be answered in a dozen ways; is this not the same thing?” Whether this was progress or not is a question worthy of Umiṭṭḷek.
Eŋŋuḷoşum’s wars inspired the two greatest Skourene military classics. Nkiuttador of Meŋeland, who had served on Eŋŋuḷoşum’s general staff, attempted to distill the master’s knowledge in the Nladalil kreika (The School of War). Nkiuttador likened war to education, and applied the lessons of teaching: know more than your opponent; ensure that lessons are clear; respect but dominate the pupil. Meanwhile Nreşasok of Guṭḷeli, the daughter of a diplomat, accompanied her father to postings all across Skouras, and took the opportunity to research the conduct of the war, producing a very informed and objective history of the conflict.
The city itself was beautified by Kuḷiŋŋusdu the architect and Ḍuikraseg the sculptor, two of the Dedlenul or Divine Three of Guṭḷeli, who were induced to come to Meŋeland after its capture.
- For a comprehensive history of the Old Skourenes, please refer to the Historical Atlas of Skouras.
- For the history of Meŋeland under the Tžuro, see Baburali.