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This is an old revision of BellakarHistory made by SampsaRydman on 2010-09-17 18:21:15.

 

History of Bellakar

Adapted and modified from Bellakar (2001) by Eric Dubourg

According to ancient Southron legends, the land of Bellakar was once verdant and lush. Vast forests covered its coastal regions, the most favored of them centered upon a mighty lake set amid the green hills. Further inland, forested highlands rose above endless expanses of grassy savanna and reed marsh. The Cuind, a tribe of Dark Elves, were first to wander the land, before the first rising of the sun, sharing its starlit trails with spirits, dwelling in caves about the wooded shores of the great lake and in sheltered vales scattered through the land. Cataclysmic deluge following the War of Wrath had repercussions throughout Middle-earth, one of which was the desiccation of Haradwaith. The vast forests of Bellakar gave way to desert. A few sizable oases remained, but only along the coasts did woodlands linger. And the Cuind are no more, except maybe their immortal spirits, which haunt the deserts.

During the early Second Age, men of Harad, hunters and herdsmen from the mountains east of the great desert, established themselves along the coasts. Some taught themselves to sail the ocean in small but sturdy boats. They drew fish, squid and seal from the waters. Others found patches of good land for farm and orchard; they sustained themselves on wheat, olives, dates and grapes. Númenóreans, whose ships towered over them like the houses of the gods, first set foot on the shores of Bellakar around 1300 II. The apysaic-speaking coastal people who allowed the newcomers to live among them acquired their lore and sometimes even mixed bloodlines with them. Númenóreans taught them agriculture, and where was agricultural surplus, a new social and political order emerged, centered upon cities that grew up around the Númenórean camps.

Earliest recorded history


Earliest city-states and the Númenórean colonization

The political concept of the city-state first took shape during the early Númenórean colonization period, somewhat around 1800 II. Slowly, over many lives of Men, Númenóreans came to colonize all the coasts of Middle-earth, and ties between the coastal people and the Men of the West grew stronger. Concubinage of local women was not uncommon among the colonists, and on some rare occasions even legally recognized marriages took place. The mixed-blooded race resulting from these unions would be later indentified as the Bellakaranî nation, distinct from other nations and tribes of Harad.

In each Bellakarian city-state, a council of powerful elders decided matters of law and justice. In some cities these ruling oligarchies consisted entirely of the Adûnâi, wealthy citizens of traceable and purely Númenórean descent. Among themselves they spoke only the traditional tongues of Númenor: Adûnaic and Sindarin (and later only Adûnaic). In other cities, the "mixed-blooded" class, known as the Bellakaze, held some share of wealth and power. They spoke a language as mixed as their heritage that became the speech of trade and lore all through Bellakar, even penetrating into the remote villages and desert trading stations.

The era was marked by the shifting of political power from one to another of the major cities on the Bellakarian coast. The cities seem to have been ruled by governors or princes, possibly with the help of some sort of assembly of citizens. The ruler had military, judicial and religious duties. People with both Adûnaic and Bellakaze names were present from the the time of the earliest written records, and it is possible that the population may well have been mixed from the beginning. Influence of Adûnaic must have been strong from the beginning. The word âru (arru), the Adûnaic word for king, appears in a Bellakaze syllabary of the early colonization period.

First Númenorean colonization effort must have occurred during the reign of Tar-Minastir (1731-1869). According to ancient syllabaric writing preserved in Hazaj Tollin, "Kiryan-Dur, Captain of the Venturers, took haven at the mouth of a river Rothlo". Second significant foundation inscription appeared at the inland oasis of Ithillond (Nîlûlôni): Númenóreans were seeking to exercise control over the emerging caravan trade westward into Bellazen. Other important settlements established by the Guild of Venturers were Ost Doranor (Ûrêzâyan) and Thorombar (Narîk-Zadan), in 1780 II according to one extant (but unreliable) inscription.

Not all of the cities were ruled by Adûnai princes: Azra'm-Miraz in southern Bellazen was apparently the home of a Bellakaze dynasty from the earliest times, judging from the names of the rulers of its first dynasty as listed in the Bellakaranî King List. Also the name of the city is pronouncedly apysaic, as is in the case of Hazaj Tollin. Other cities included Korlea and Khibil Êphalak far inland. Êphalak, although regarded in Bellakarian mythology as the oldest city, originally founded by the creator god when he established civilization, was never apparently the home of a ruling dynasty. Ithillond/Nîlûlôni, too, enjoyed a special status as the religious capital of the plain and traditional birthplace of the patron goddess of the Haradrim, Ladnoca, mother of gods.

Each of these cities, together with its hinterland, was regarded as the home of one of the major gods of the Bellakaze pantheon. Najm, Lord of the Sea, was revered in Thorombar/Narîk-Zadan, while Ishtra, goddess of love and war, had her home at Ost Doranor/Ûrêzâyan. These patrons were expected to defend the interests of their own cities in the council of gods where all major decisions on the future of mankind were discussed. It was in this council, according to later Bellakarian mythology, that the decision was taken to flood the earth because man was becoming altogether too crafty and was disturbing the equilibrium of the gods. Najm crept out of the council, warned Nimruzîr in Romenna of the impending disaster and so enabled him to build a fleet and escape from Númenor unharmed.

Under Tar-Ciryatan of Númenor, this patchwork of settlements achieved coherence through the institution of the Bellakarian League, a loose federation responsible for gathering and paying tribute for the great king. At first, Adûnai and Bellakaze alike enjoyed immunity from the tribute, which was taken from "lesser races". The city rulers of the early colonization period do not seem to have had absolute power; there are indications that there may have been assemblies of citizens which had to ratify major decisions taken by the ruler. So when Mûrathôr of Korlea wanted to go to war, he was unable to do so until he had obtained the approval of the people. There seem to have been two assemblies in Korlea at the time, and, having failed to obtain the approval of the council of elders, he then went to the council of young men, who enthusiastically endorsed his proposal (Surpassing All Other Kings: A Bellakarian epic).

From Tar-Atanamir to Tar-Vanimeldë


The earliest records suggest that land was held by families or cities rather than individuals and all male members of the family had to give their consent to a sale. Gradually, this practice ceased, and property seems to have passed into hands of private individuals. This development happened during the time of rapacious great king Tar-Atanamir, who reversed his father's decrees. A heavy tribute was now demanded of all the cities of Bellakar. Its exaction, however, was not easily effected, since several cities refused to pay, and the king had no loyal officials or garrisons in the colonies. A royal envoy was sent to Hazaj Tollin, making it clear to their lord that Tar-Atanamir was prepared to enforce his will with military might if need be.

Tar-Atanamir soon perceived that he might increase his revenues still further by treating with each of the colonies of Bellakar individually, playing upon inter-city rivalries to intensify competition for royal favor. The king promised a reduction of tribute to those cities that pledged other sources of income to the Sceptre. Large parcels of land were given to his followers by the king as a reward for their services. This offer precipitated strife within and among the cities because the Adûnai ruling classes sought to shift the burden of royal finance upon the Bellakaze, while the more martially-inclined cities found pretexts to invade or plunder neighboring territories.

As we have already said, early Second Age saw the shifting of political power from one city to another. The power of the city-states seems to have been largely confined to the coastlands. The start of the Tar-Atanamir period in 2029 II saw important changes in this pattern with the emergence of Ciryandur II of Emerië, a Númenórean governor of Hazaj Tollin who rose to control the whole of the coast and who then pushed as far as the Dune Sea. Soon after Tar-Atanamir's death and the accession of his son Ancalimon, he took the title of Tar-Heruhyarmen, a manifest act of rebellion against the Line of Elros. In an inscription he claimed that the God Êrû had given him "all the lands between the desert and the sea", in justified insurrection against the "tyranny of Armenelos". It seems likely that this conquest was not much more than a successful raid, but it marks the first time that a local prince claimed overlordship over all the Bellakarian cities. Ciryandur's triumph was short-lived and he was rapidly defeated by a rival.

In Númenor, king Tar-Ancalimon had by now acknowledged the party of the Ârûwanâi, the "King's Men," as his favored supporters, alienating the "Faithful", who supported moderation and religious conservatism, and also the more vigorous colonial factions in Middle-earth. Many of the Ârûwanâi saw these political enemies as impure, less Dúnadan in thought and blood, than those born and living in Númenor and having their first loyalties to the monarchy. As Ciryandur probably saw it, the Line of Elros had given up any claim to rule by the Grace of the Valar and revolt against the king had become the sacred duty of all true Dúnedain.

Mûrathôr, the succesful rival and founder of a new, Ârûwanâi dynasty, had appearantly begun his political career as the cup-bearer to Ar-Zaimbar, king of Azra'm-Miraz. He broke away from Azra'm-Miraz to the new city of Korlea which became the base from which he launched his campaign to subdue all the cities in the name of the Ârûwanâim. Mûrathôr was a formidable soldier and a considerable administrator. He became one of the great heroic prototypes on whom later monarchs modelled themselves and many legends and stories accumulated round his name and his story is told in the epic poem Surpassing All Other Kings, one of the few Second Age sources. This makes it more difficult to establish the true extent of his works.

The War of the Renegades, in which Tar-Ancalimon put down the challenges to his sovereignty in Middle-earth, took place in 2280, and during that time loyal Mûrathôr and his army reached Tulwang and might have even penetrated Yellow Mountains to southern Ciryatanorë. Mûrathôr also seems to have destroyed a number of Apysani cities. He centralised the administration of the Bellakarian League, reformed the calendar, and clipped the wings of the old city-states. Korlea thus came to exercise hegemony over both the northern and southern coasts of the Bay of Tulwang, giving it exclusive control over the maritime trade routes to Bozisha-Miraz. Korlea soon became the wealthiest city of Bellakar, and its domestic territory continued to grow through colonization or forcible imposition on its neighbors. In spite of this, Mûrathôr's long reign ended in a general uprising which was eventually suppressed by his successor.

Later Númenórean period from Tar-Anducal to the Downfall


Age of Korlean Regency over Bellakar was over by 2637 II, when the new Númenórean monarch Tar-Anducal in 2637 II reinstated the League of Cities (Bâitha'n-Kadîr). But though it was to be governed, like its predecessor, by an elected body of councilors called asapthubêthî (sing. asapthubêth), the organization of the new league differed significantly from the old. Executive authority over the cities (and responsibility for collecting the royal tribute) would now be held jointly by three asapthubêthî, annually elected by the combined citizenries of the league. In addition, a standing army was formed that would coexist with the militia of the individual colonies. A stele has been found in the hills of Kes Zum, commemorating councilor Inzilkhâd's leadership of the League army and his victories over the hill people and especially over Bozisha-Miraz.

The attitudes and customs of the Ârûwanâi came to dominate the both Adûnai and Bellakaze peoples of Bellakar. Usage of Elvish language in certain place names was officially discontinued in 2899, but in practice there are no inscriptions with elvish place names dating after 2280 II. But the racial policies of Númenor caused the Bellakaze to be gradually stripped of their political power. "The lesser men" revolted against Númenórean masters many times. Most serious of these insurrections was something called the Nelegaje or "Grievance war" during the last two centuries of the Second Age, which seems to have dragged out by prolonged guerilla warfare throughout the Bellakarian hinterland. There is evidence of destruction of cities which has been attributed to the Nelegaje. In Adûnaic Chronicles the rebellion itself was blamed to Sauron and was finally crushed by prince Pharazôn in his long campaign to defend Númenórean colonies in Middle-earth.

There are very few records telling us what happened in Bellakarian League during the reigns of Tar-Palantir and Tar-Calion, and the oral histories are full of rhetorical interpolation and tall tales of marvelous wealth and incredible machines. It is certain that Bellakar did not escape the cataclysmic disaster which marked the end of the age. Korlea was destroyed in an earthquake matched to others, equally devastating, that rent the Lôkhurush and Sîres valleys, wreaking chaos in Târik an-Narduvî, Zimra-zadan and Nîlûlôni. Hazaj Tollin, Ûrêzâyan and Balkuzôr were swept away by massive tidal waves. Two thousand years of civilization had been undone in a single day, if local folklore is to be believed.

KINGDOM OF BELLAKAR



















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